Posted by: fvbcdm | July 4, 2017

Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (4 July 2017)

When I think of the Fourth of July, a whole pastiche of impressions and memories come crowding back into my mind.  One of them is of a beautiful, sunny afternoon in early fall, as my travel group and I sailed out of New York Harbor on our way to Nova Scotia and Eastern Canada on a cruise.  Most of the passengers on deck lined the rails on deck to watch as we sailed by the Statue of Liberty.  That beloved symbol of our nation is tremendously impressive as you sail by it.  The lady who lifts her lamp beside the golden door.

Now, do you know the official title of the statue?  It’s properly called “Liberty Enlightening the World.”  Later that afternoon, one of the ladies in my group said to me, almost as if she were going to confession, “You know, when we passed the Statue of Liberty, I cried.”  I assured her that it is not a sin to cry when one passes the Statue of Liberty.  I got pretty choked up over it myself.

There is a close parallelism between the natural enlightenment of the world by liberty and the supernatural enlightenment of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. In the early Church the Sacrament of Baptism was often called “the Enlightenment.”  To this day, in the Baptismal Rite, a small candle is lighted from the Pascal Candle standing beside the font and given to a parent or Godparent representing the newly-baptized child.  The Church says, “Receive the Light of Christ.”

How does liberty enlighten the world?  How does Christ do the same thing at the supernatural level?  They do this by showing mankind how to live so as to achieve our proper goals.  At the natural level, we must live according to law, justice, and order, if we are to achieve the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that our Declaration of Independence speaks of.  At the supernatural level, we must keep God’s commandments of love of God and of neighbor if we are to achieve the eternal union with God, which is the ultimate goal of all human existence.  Both natural and supernatural liberty demand duty, responsibility, work, vigilance.  As has often been said, liberty does not mean that one can do anything one wants, it means that one can do what one should to achieve one’s proper goals.  It is this wonderful opportunity which America offers to us to such a great degree and which we celebrate each year on the Fourth of July.  Thank you for allowing God to love you, God bless you.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

 

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