This weekend we are celebrating our nation’s Independence (July 4). The past few years we have lived with the reality that with the danger of COVID many celebrations, picnics, family gatherings, parades and fireworks were often cancelled. As many of the restrictions of the previous years have eased and more and more people are receiving the vaccine shot, we give thanks and pray for our many health care workers and scientists who have worked so hard in the face of danger to take care of us. On this Independence Day 2022 we are called to honor the great vision of those who laid the foundation for the United States of America. While we have struggled over the years to define and live what our ideals are for us as a country, we continue to explore what it means to be free people and a citizen of these United States in the 21st century.
Now 246 years after we declared our independence we are a much larger, diverse and complex country. We have suffered and continue to suffer with wars, disease, discrimination, racial hatred, and countless other difficulties. But as a nation, though painful and slow at times, we have sought to bring equality and justice to everyone who is a citizen and all who visit our great land. We rightly prize our freedom, but too often we take that same freedom for granted. As citizens, we have rights but we also have obligations to protect especially the innocent and defenseless. Recent events in our nation challenge us even more this year to work towards the equality of ALL and justice for everyone in our country.
Over these many years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, people from many other nations, languages and cultures have been drawn to also live in these United States. Some have come for economic reasons and some because of war, persecution or turmoil in their own country. Some have come for ulterior motives that do not promote the common good. But studies have shown most people have come seeking to live in a country that promotes tolerance of those who are different, a spirit of acceptance and a country that celebrates not only our individual freedoms but also the freedom to worship God with our own faith.
As we celebrate this 246th Independence Day, may we resolve as people of this great nation to join together in celebrating the blessings of living in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Though we must promote better immigration policies that treat all people fairly, we must also promote respect for families of those who live alongside us, who worship with us, who work hard to provide for their family. The words of Pope Francis on September 24, 2015 in addressing a joint session of the United States Congress, continue to have a challenging urgency in light of actions our country has taken towards refugees coming to our borders. The inaction of our Congress to look seriously at immigration reform in our country has not helped ease the burdens faced by so many people on our borders. In his speech to the Congress in 2015, Pope Francis said,
“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12)
A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.”
When the Declaration of Independence was signed, those who placed their names on that paper knew it was a momentous act that called for courage and trust in the providence of God. As citizens of the USA in 2022 we are called to be no less courageous in our present circumstances. Please keep all our men and women who are serving in the armed forces and their families who wait at home in your prayers. Let us pray and work that peace may come to our world and all people will work to understand that we are truly brothers and sisters in God’s family.
Let us resolve to do all we can to eliminate racism in our midst and elect leaders who will work to bring "liberty and justice to all." The increasing intolerance in our country, the senseless violence that plagues Chicago and many other places throughout the country and the world calls for action against such behavior. As Catholics who profess belief in the call of Jesus we are charged with bringing peace and love to others. As we gather to celebrate the "Fourth of July" may each of us resolve to bring the peace of Christ to our world, that is so desperately in need of the message of Jesus.
We celebrate the holiday of Independence Day tomorrow, July 4 with federal facilities, banks, offices and many other places closed for the holiday. I encourage you to join us tomorrow, Monday, July 4, as we celebrate a special Independence Day Mass at 10:00 am here at St. Peter's Church. The church will be closed for the rest of the day after the Mass.
ST. PETER'S 8TH ANNUAL GALA
After two years of having to virtually have our annual fund-raising Gala on You Tube, this year we return to the Union League Club on Thursday, July 14 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm to celebrate this annual event. This is our largest fund-raising effort of the year and it helps keep our ministry at St. Peter's operating. You can purchase tickets for this event at the church or by visiting our web site. If you are unable to attend you also may make a donation to help us maintain our ministries here at St. Peter's Church.
Please continue to pray and work for peace in our cities and in our world.