by Fr. Dwight P. Campbell, S.T.D.
“The Lord is the strength of his people” (Introit)
“Oh God of power, . . . implant in our hearts the love of your Name, and increase in us the virtue of religion” (Collect)
These two verses, from the Introit and Collect in today’s Mass, provide us with worthy topics to contemplate – most fittingly, on this Fourth of July, the day on which we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginnings of the founding of our country, these United States of America.
Our Founders, although largely non-Catholics, were nonetheless deeply religious men who reverenced God and His Holy Name. The Declaration of Independence is a bold affirmation that our basic, fundamental rights come not from some king or other earthly ruler, but from God himself:
“We hold these true this to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . .”
Not only did our Founders acknowledge that our basic rights – as human beings made in God’s image – come from God; they also saw the importance, nay, the dire necessity, of religion in the forming of people in virtue and for the well-being of society as a whole; that is, for the common good. Listen to these words of our first President, George Washington, from his Farewell Address to the nation on September 19, 1796:
“. . . Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. . . .”
Washington’s words reflect not merely his own ideas, but the common thinking of most people in this country two centuries ago. I think his words still reflect the thinking today of most people in this country who call themselves Christians. Unfortunately, they do not reflect the mentality of the “movers and shakers” in our land, those “intellectual elites” who make laws and policies, shape public opinion in the media, and deform the minds and hearts of many people, especially the young, in institutions of higher education.
These cultural elites promote a “diversity” which in practice means that there can be no objective standards of morality; they advance what Pope Benedict XVI calls a “dictatorship of relativism” where basically anything goes and all beliefs and opinions are equally valid. Just listen to these words from a recent Supreme Court decision [Planned Parenthood v. Casey] which upheld the so-called “right” of abortion:
“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Ah, yes, we can all “be like gods.”
I have read surveys which reveal that upwards of 60% of Catholics favor same-sex unions and think that morality should be based on personal preference or the circumstances of the situation. Our Founders, some of whom were Deists, would be horrified at such muddled and disordered thinking. They would likewise be appalled over Supreme Court decisions which permit the murder of innocent pre-born babies in the name of “freedom of choice,” which permit pornography to saturate our airwaves and Internet under the cloak of the First Amendment “freedom of speech,” which claim that homosexual sodomy is a “fundamental right” of citizens, and which affirm the practice of “health” officials in our schools and public offices to distribute birth control to teens so they can fornicate with their friends.
What is the solution to these evil policies and practices which undermine religion and morality and thereby cause so much harm to the common good? As a nation, we must return to God, reverence His Holy Name, and obey all of His Commandments.
As Catholics, who have the fullness of the truth, we must work to extend the social reign of Jesus Christ, the King. To do this we must pray and do penance so that people return to their senses and repent of their sins. This is basically the message given back in 1917 by Our Lady of Fatima: she showed the little children a vision of Hell and said that so many sinners were losing their souls because there was no one to pray and make sacrifices for them.
We also must work to convert the minds and hearts of our fellow citizens in order that they may embrace the true religion, the Catholic Faith, and practice true worship of God and of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Our goal must be nothing less than to catholicize the culture and to establish the universal reign of Christ, as King.
Let us call upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of our country under her glorious title, the Immaculate Conception – the title which the U.S. Bishops chose when they dedicated this land to be under her protection more than a century and a half ago. O Mary, pray for our country! O Mary, pray for our people!