Dear Friends, the boy in the image above was reading the Declaration of Independence emblazoned on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial when I visited there in October 2007. He represents our future.
The folks in the following video taken at Colonial Williamsburg represent our past as they reenact how our country was born. Our fore fathers and mothers pledged their “lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor” in order to birth America.
Tomorrow we’ll consider how severely that cost was for many of them and their families.
Now consider what you and I can and must do in order to ensure the re-birthing of America in its third century.
Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. Click here.
This is an actual image of one of the four panels of the words of Thomas Jefferson emblazoned upon the walls of perhaps America’s most sacred shrine, the Jefferson Memorial. The image was taken in October 2007 on my first pilgrimage to pray for our country’s transformation.
As I offer my thoughts, I invite you to observe this Fourth of July with an interior observance of the heart, as I do, year-after-year. Take time to make these words, of the Declaration of Independence, your own. Those of you who are young people, realize that these words conceived, founded and established our country.
What existed only in the minds and hearts of our founding fathers and mothers became the United States of America.
But, we have wandered far way from this vision. We fail to realize that we must constantly re-birth America — for good or for ill.
It is my sense that at this critical point of American history that we — each and every American — ought to re-visit that moment of our founding.
Imagine what it was like.
Imagine their vision of what did not yet exist in the external world.
Imagine the courage they had.
Next to the Word of God, there are no words that are more sacred for me than these. They are sacred because they reflected divine reality. God blessed these words of Thomas Jefferson. And our country was born on the Fourth of July 1776.
When I lived in Washington in the summer of 1979 when I was 36 years old, I would often go and sit in the rotunda of this sacred shrine and ponder anew the vision of these sacred words.
I’d like to share with you what was going on in my head and my heart 36 years ago They are faith-based thoughts. I don’t want to impose them on you. I just share them because they led me to a very positive view of our country and our world, a view that resists the hatred and violence, the self-indulgence of our comatose society. As you ponder my thoughts, ask yourself what vision of America, what vision of the world and our future do you yourself have? What do you want for you, for your children, for our country, for our world, for our planet?
I believe your Holy Spirit inspired these words:
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT THAT ALL [PEOPLE] ARE CREATED EQUAL AND ARE ENDOWED WITH CERTAIN INALIENABLE RIGHTS. AMONG THESE ARE THE RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
As a Christian among other God-fearing women and men, I address You and love You as my Father. You are my Father. But this means that You are not just my Father, but the Father of all those you have created. You care about every person on this planet who has ever lived or who ever will. Therefore, we are all equal in Your sight. We are all Persons. You conceived and created each human being with a unique identity, a body and soul, in Your mind and heart from the very beginning and you sustain each one of us today and for all eternity.
I have come to recognize that ALL of us are in Your family, Father. And that makes us but sisters and brothers. Help me to embrace all of Your children on this planet in my heart. Help me to desire for every one what you have so generously provided for me – a little place to call home, simple food on my table, a decent education and decent health care.
Help us, Father, to recognize and support the right of every human person to life, liberty and the pursuit of other people’s happiness as well as our own. Help us not to be only concerned about our own needs, our own family’s needs, but to realize that we are all one family. Yet we are torn apart by hatred and violence; brother still kills his brother. Help us export love not hate, peace and development for all people, not war and destruction.
This is my constant prayer, heavenly Father, for the world in which I live.
I pray that you would allow us the grace to be able to help bring that about,
not only for the people of America but for the whole world.
To you, heavenly Father ~ Father of my Redeemer and elder brother Jesus ~
all honor and praise and thanksgiving now and forever.
This, dear friends, is my constant prayer for the world in which we live,
the world I wish to be a part of and help to bring into reality.
It has ever been such since my lazy summer of ’79 in Washington and always will be.
I don’t expect you to use my words as you pray.
I just invite you to make your own prayer.
Make this Fourth of July a re-dedication to our ideals in this difficult election year.
We need God in our world today.
But we too often rely on ourselves and not on God. Capitalism, by definition, creates that illusion.
I urge you to re-birth the vision of our founding fathers and mothers in your own heart this Fourth of July 2015.
We need to renew that vision, that commitment every year ~ every day,
from the mightiest to the lowest of our land.
Every year I warn us, if we don’t constantly attend to our renewal,
we will lose what we have and are. Great civilizations before us have collapsed because of their complacency.
Nevertheless, it is my sense that God will transform us if we pray and bind together.
If we just co-operate with the process.
Let us be at prayer and reflection, this Fourth of July in the midst of our celebration and fun.
Ask God for guidance. Ask forgiveness for taking all of this for granted.
We need God to bring us through these critical times.
And now, before you go, here’s a powerful song with historical images to inspire your reflection. Click here.
Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. Enjoy your celebration for it’s still a beautiful land.
As I waited for my appointment at the Genius bar at the Apple store in Ft. Lauderdale a while back, I mused about this young dad and his little son Tyler for a while.
The New York Times reported that we would spend 9.6 billion dollars that year on Father’s Day gifts.
But what I saw in this encounter between father and son is priceless — an exchange of loving touch, an intimacy, a comfortability that many of us never received or feel that we know how to give.
If you did have that kind of closeness to your own father, rejoice and give thanks for it is quite rare; determine to give it to your children.
It’s a simple gift, after all, the gift of loving touch, attention and loving presence. Little else is necessary.
And so, here’s to all the fathers I know!
And those I don’t.
To grandfathers, great grandfathers
Rejoice. dear fathers, in your daughters and sons!
Give thanks today for what you have wrought,
not only from your loins
but of your spirit.
Perhaps you have been a great father,
Just be as good a father as you can be.
That’s all your children want.
The most important part of being a father,
is not what your provide for your family ~
a nice home, good food,
health care, education, lots of cool stuff, all that.
The most important part of being a father
is the time you spend getting to know each one as a unique individual
and to call forth their gifts –
to encourage them to be who they are,
to find their own identity,
– not what you want them to be,
but to find their own place in the sun, the Son.
If life circumstances have caused you
not be the greatest of fathers,
it’s not too late.
Just be the best father you can.
Focus on your kids first.
Some fathers who have lost their jobs are discovering their children for the first time.
The most important thing is to be real.
To be honest, a man of integrity. To love.
You are also somebody’s son.
Maybe you have had a great relationship with your own father. Maybe not.
Whether living or dead, honor them today as well.
Just keep trying. Rejoice in your kids.
They are the greatest gift you have in life.
Be proud of them and they will be proud of you.
And so may we pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
we give you thanks for the life and love you share with us,
Help us as fathers to be there for our kids,
And if we haven’t,
May we do so from this day forward.We are all Your children, Heavenly Father.
We give thanks for those who have fathered us,
even though they may not have given us our DNA
– uncles, teachers, friends, older brothers
And I, too, Father Bob, give thanks to the men who have initiated me into manhood and the ways of the Spirit, such as Cistercian Father Edward McCorkell,o.c.s.o. and Father Eugene Walsh P.S.S.
I also rejoice and give thanks for all those for whom I have been a spiritual father during the forty-seven years of my priesthood by helping them to realize that it is You, heavenly Father, who give life and love to us all. To You be all honor and glory and praise! Amen!
Now, before you go, here’s Mike and the Mechanics singing The Living Years. Click Here. Grab a tissue, turn up your speakers and enter full screen!
And here are the Mass reading’s for this Sunday: Click here.