Independence Day. It seems we’re a nation wondering what that all means today. So where can we learn about what this day means? Historians tell us it say didn’t happen without much struggle. Political fighting, interest groups, foreign powers, war–all had a part in it. Founding our country was not as easy as we might think. But somehow all these conflicting interests came together around an ideal.
Can we remember that ideal today?
The Declaration of Independence was a statement of great ideals, but those ideals still need to be applied to some others. Have the native peoples here on this continent before us, the African peoples brought here as slaves, been treated as “created equal” with “certain unalienable rights?”
Have the poor and the immigrant been seen as equal?
Church feasts celebrate graces of God. They lift us up to aspire to great ideals and promises. We’re called today to do what church feasts do. Pray and still celebrate. But we always begin feasts with prayers for forgiveness, acknowledgement of failures, and calls for mercy: “Lord, have mercy.”
“America the Beautiful… God mend thine every flaw, and crown thy good with brotherhood, with liberty and law.”
Then, hope it can all come true, dreams that went into Independence Day.
Father of all nations and ages,
we recall the day when our country
claimed its place among the family of nations;
for what has been achieved we give you thanks,
for the work that still remains we ask your help,
and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation, grant that, under your providence, our country may share your blessings
with all the peoples of the earth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Join in prayer for our country:
We lift up our hearts, O God, on this day of celebration in gratitude for the gift of being Americans.
We rejoice with all those who share in the great dream of freedom and dignity for all.
With flags and feasting, with family and friends, we salute those who have sacrificed that we might have the opportunity to bring to fulfillment our many God-given gifts.
As we deny all prejudice a place in our hearts, may we also clearly declare our intention to work for the time when all people, regardless of race, religion or sex, will be granted equal dignity and worth.
Come, O gracious God, who led your children Israel from slavery, keep us free from all that might hold us in bondage.
Bless our country and join our simple celebration that we may praise you, our Source of freedom, the One in whom we place our trust.
~ Edward Hays – A Pilgrim’s Almanac:
Reflections for Each Day of the Year, p. 111
Independence Day Prayer from Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers
God, source of all freedom,
This day is bright with the memory
of those who declared that life and liberty
are your gift to every human being.
Help us to continue a good work begun long ago.
Make our vision clear and our will strong:
that only in human solidarity will we find liberty,
and justice only in the honor that belongs
to every life on earth.
Turn our hearts toward the family of nations:
to understand the ways of others,
to offer friendship,
and to find safety only in the common good of all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.