This July 4th, Independence Day, we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 243 years ago! We are blessed by many freedoms and privileges in the United States of America, and we give thanks for the opportunity to work for liberty and justice for all of God’s children. Many people have sacrificed much—even their lives—to secure the freedoms we enjoy today.
Enjoying freedom, however, does not mean that we do whatever we please at the expense of others. We are called to use our freedoms for the good of our brothers and sisters. As Saint Paul wrote in his Letter to the Galatians, “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love” (Galatians 5:13).
Though we enjoy many freedoms in our great nation, the freedom of religion is threatened by an increasingly secular culture and society. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have urged the faithful to intensify their prayer and penance for the protection of religious freedom in our country. Join the bishops in this prayer, asking the Lord to protect Americans’ freedom of conscience:
O GOD OUR CREATOR,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Happy Independence Day!