I certainly studied the Declaration of Independence in elementary school and High School, but I never had a teacher who required that I memorize it. I can only quote its first words, “When in the course of human events” and, more importantly, its last words, “We pledge our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.” Historians can discuss and decide whether the fate of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence was as bad as it is often said. That their action could have cost them their “Lives” and their “Fortunes” and both reflected and required their “Sacred Honor” is beyond question, however.
July is the month in which we celebrate “Independence Day.” Hopefully, there will be “Fourth of July fireworks” in our hearts as well as in the skies over where we live. The issue, of course, is not what the Signers of the Declaration of Independence were ready for when they made that decision. The issue is always what we do with our lives.
One of my hopes and prayers is that all of us will make some time during the month of July to reflect on how we can become better citizens, both of our country and of our world. Hopefully, all of us will look for ways we can get more involved in our neighborhoods and in the other communities to which we belong. Hopefully, we’ll care enough about what’s going on in our world that we’ll form some informed opinions about what is happening and find a way to make our contribution to the common good. Hopefully, we’ll know where the candidates in the upcoming Presidential Election stand on the various issues we confront as a nation and be able to vote our convictions intelligently. Hopefully, we’ll vote.
Another of my hopes and prayers is that we will make some time during the month of July to reflect on how we can become better disciples of Jesus Christ as Catholics. For some of us, that might mean getting to Sunday Mass a little more often. For others of us, it might mean a commitment to deepen our personal prayer lives. For still others of us, it might mean a “firm purpose of
amendment” to change something about the way we’re living. All of us could use an attitude adjustment every once in awhile. Increased involvement in our families, our neighborhoods, our parishes, our civic communities, our world and in response to the needs of people may be what our Faith is asking us to consider. “Catholic” has to be not only what we are, but especially how we look at life and live it.
A third of my hopes and prayers is that we’ll actually do at least some of what we know we ought and want to do. It may not cost us “our Lives” or “our Fortunes,” but “our Sacred Honor” and our God almost always ask more of us than the little we would like to get by with and give of ourselves.
Thank you for all of the ways that you have been good citizens and good Catholics, and for the challenge your good example offers me to be a better citizen and a better Catholic myself. Thank you, also and especially, for remembering the Franciscans in your charity and in your prayers. God bless these United States, the earth and all its people, you and those who love you with...
Peace and everything good,
Fr. William Spencer, O.F.M.