July 4, 2021 - Pastor Message10/20/2021
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness” (The Declaration of Independence).
Last weekend I had the privilege to celebrate the wedding of a former student of mine in Philadelphia. While there, I had some time to tour the historic district. I also spent some time at the National Museum of the American Revolution. The centerpiece of the museum is George Washington’s tent, which he used throughout the war when on campaign to meet with his officers, plan strategy, and conduct correspondence. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the revolution was won in that tent, and it was a special treat to see it.
As we celebrate Independence Day, it would be good for us to reflect for a moment on the ideals for which George Washington and the rest of the Continental Army and Navy fought, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, and though the revolution failed to fully realize those ideals Washington and many other leaders owned slaves long after the war was won that struggle began the long, slow, and tortuous journey to equality and freedom for all.
In a word, that is what the revolution was about freedom. But they didn’t fight just for freedom from something, namely British governance. They fought to win freedom for something, something better than the “absolute despotism” of what came before, a new age for a new world based not on the predetermined categories of the old world but where everyone was free to make a better life for themselves and their families; to practice their faith as they wished without fear of government intervention; to speak their mind, even when others didn’t like what they had to say; to defend their rights, individually and in groups; and to determine who governed them and how those people governed. This weekend, the freedom for a better world is what we celebrate. Let us use the freedoms we have received to build that world, fulfilling the ideals of the revolution.
Fr. Marc Stockton