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Happy 4th of July!

July 3, 2008

Yes, happy 4th of July! According to the calendar of the Church, July 4th’s real significance is that it is the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336), a patron Saint of peacemakers.

The sad fact, however, is that if you were to attend Mass on this day, the chances of your priest mentioning this feast are slim to none. Instead, you are likely to participate in a Eucharist which has been transformed into a syncretistic ritual of american civil religion. Thank God that, despite the sectarian tendencies of the american Church, the transnational Church calls us Catholics to be a peculiar people who mark time differently than the rest of the world, and the rest of our nation.

St. Elizabeth, pray for us, that we american Catholics may truly take our place in the one, transnational Body of Christ that resists the dismemberment caused by our tendency to cling to national allegiances. And on the day that the rest of the united states celebrates its foundational myth of violence and the sacrifices of soldiering which parody the Cross, let us be ever more formed by the words of Jesus in the Gospel reading for July 4th: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

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98 Comments
  1. July 3, 2008 4:23 pm

    Thank Goodness people are not using the Saints to further a politial agenda around here :)

  2. jonathanjones02 permalink
    July 3, 2008 4:26 pm

    This Fourth of July, I intend to reflect on the Holy Father’s praise of our country – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89732508 – and I will also share, with my family, an appreciation for living here. It is a great blessing to live in the U.S., and there are many hundreds of millions who would jump at the chance to do so.

  3. July 3, 2008 4:28 pm

    I agree Jonathon. It does seem a day that we should count our blessing and thank GOD for them. We have been blessed.

    It is good for Amerians to have a day like that

  4. ben permalink
    July 3, 2008 4:39 pm

    I would add that since tomorrow is Friday, it is also the commemoration of the Passion of Our Lord, and as such the Chuch asks us to do some penance (we will be grilling fish this year).

    It is also the First Friday of July, and as such amny Churhces will be celebrating the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart.

    It is also the Commemoration of All Holy Popes, the Feast of Our Lady of Refuge and St. Theodore.

    All in all, I’d say that it would be a good and holy thing for all of us not merely to give thanks to God for the good that we recive by living in our country, but to also offer some penance for the sins of our country.

  5. Liam permalink
    July 3, 2008 4:50 pm

    Michael

    In the ordo for the United States, St Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal is an optional memorial, and the USCCB has votive mass texts that may be used. The practice of the national calendar taking precedence over the universal calendar for national days is quite common in the Church.

    That caution aside, it would be good to remember that Catholics may have a proper love of country that does not morph into an heretical “chosen nation” secular civil religion.

    And we should also remember that, as Catholics, our “national day” as American Catholics is the solemnity of our Patroness, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, on December 8. December 8 should be for US Catholics what December 12 is for Mexico, March 19 is for Italy, July 25 is for Spain, et cet.

  6. July 3, 2008 4:51 pm

    Yeah I kinda lean towards Jonathan’s idea better. That or just go out to have a bbq and a couple of drinks. The Church never wants us to be detached from reality anyway, as if her calendar should be preferred than civil holidays. The Church simply proposes that there is something more. So independence day is great not because we are free from britain, but because….and so on…

  7. July 3, 2008 5:29 pm

    God Bless these United States.

  8. July 3, 2008 5:47 pm

    Predictable — and timely! — responses from the usual suspects.

  9. July 3, 2008 5:54 pm

    …Holy Father’s praise of our country…

    Praise, he says!

    It is a great blessing to live in the U.S., and there are many hundreds of millions who would jump at the chance to do so.

    And the u.s. is hardly unique in that regard. Consider the millions who chose Canada instead.

  10. July 3, 2008 6:01 pm

    Ah yes, Canada: The land of the weak, and the home of the politically correct.

  11. July 3, 2008 6:06 pm

    Predictable-and timely!-responses from the usual suspects

    Response:
    Crap, I gotta work on the unpredictability thing. I hate it when people can predict what I will say. I love movies made by freemasons.

  12. July 3, 2008 6:16 pm

    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak
    The land of the weak

    Is this Christianity?

  13. July 3, 2008 6:24 pm

    …the home of the politically correct.

    And the home of millions of immigrants who feel welcome and are not suspected of being terrorists.

  14. July 3, 2008 6:40 pm

    “And the home of millions of immigrants who feel welcome and are not suspected of being terrorists”

    The United States suspects millions of people immigrants of being terrorist?

  15. John H permalink
    July 3, 2008 6:49 pm

    Go ahead and have your temper tantrum while the adults celebrate a national holiday, just as they do all over the world. I notice a hissy-fit didn’t come our way on the 1st, despite your current residence.

  16. Kevin permalink
    July 3, 2008 6:57 pm

    “All in all, I’d say that it would be a good and holy thing for all of us not merely to give thanks to God for the good that we recive by living in our country, but to also offer some penance for the sins of our country.”

    Spare us the sanctimony and let each of us atone for our own specific sins. Ingratitude and dwelling in abstractions, I’m quite sure are sins.

  17. July 3, 2008 7:06 pm

    I notice a hissy-fit didn’t come our way on the 1st, despite your current residence.

    You might also notice, if you paid attention, a distinct difference between the meaning of In Dependence Day and Canada Day. But I wouldn’t expect you to necessarily know that. It’s understandable that you would project your own nation’s experience of national holidays upon another country.

  18. July 3, 2008 7:11 pm

    It owuld have been nice to have a Canada Day post since we just had that. I am always curious how that day is celebrated

  19. July 3, 2008 7:22 pm

    The sad fact, however, is that if you were to attend Mass on this day, the chances of your priest mentioning this feast are slim to none.

    Let me also take this opportunity to challenge priests in america to make Friday’s liturgy a celebration of St. Elizabeth rather than of St. Thomas Jefferson. Trash that canned patriotic homily and preach peace. I lovingly dare you.

  20. July 3, 2008 7:28 pm

    Ha! Something we agree on, MI. I am no fan of Thomas Jefferson either.*

    Ah, sweet common ground.

    *I am more of a Hamilton man.

  21. July 3, 2008 8:00 pm

    “Let me also take this opportunity to challenge priests in america to make Friday’s liturgy a celebration of St. Elizabeth rather than of St. Thomas Jefferson. Trash that canned patriotic homily and preach peace. I lovingly dare you.”

    Micheal you must live in alternative America where Priests are talking about THomas Jefferson at Mass and giving remarks on the Federalist papers

    Usually I hear on these holiday- we have Freedom but true Freedom is in Christ and we have a Responsibilty as American etc etc. Sort of what Pope Benedict said on the WHite House Lawn

    How about both. THe fact is we should be concerned that people don’t go to weekday Mass period.

    We should also be concerned also that that many priest Homily skills to be blunt suck. SO I am thankful if a Homily is good period

    What are talking on a weekday Mass. Like a 5 or 10 minutes top homily?

  22. July 3, 2008 8:00 pm

    jh, I’m sorry to inform you that Canada Day is celebrated much the same way we celebrate Independence Day. You know, gathering together with family and neighbors, polluting the environment with charcoal fumes as we blacken the meat of a poor defenseless animal, worshiping at the altar of militarism (a.k.a watching fireworks).

    Detroit and Windsor, ON share their holiday, so to speak. The close proximity of the two cities and the holiday dates and nature, lends itself to be a nice international thing. The week prior to July 1, is marked as the Freedom Festival, with events and shared fireworks on the Detroit River.

    As to the meaning of the two holidays, there is a difference, but it might not be as stark as Michael Iafrate would seem to believe. Dominion Day (the old name for the holiday) marked when Canada became a dominion of the British. So initially, the holiday celebrates the unification of a people under an imperial regime, but since Canada gained her independence, Canada Day marks that as well. It’s all just an excuse to mark a common event(s), have pride in the place where you were born or live, enjoy the company of friends and family, and just be evil in your patriotism. I spent the summers of my youth in Canada, I can assure you that the Canadian spirit of their holiday is almost indiscernible from ours. In fact, as a kid it was great, we had two big fireworks nights where the whole neighborhood went in on the fireworks. It was so ecumenical in an evil civic religion kind of way. God bless Canada and America.

  23. July 3, 2008 8:08 pm

    Thanks Rick

    I saw it mentioned on a few Canadian blogs but they did go into detail

  24. Greg permalink
    July 3, 2008 9:00 pm

    Apolonio,

    I like the couple of drinks part. I will have two Imperial stouts.

  25. Greg permalink
    July 3, 2008 9:01 pm

    Michael,

    Doesn’t the same thing happen on Thanksgiving?

  26. July 3, 2008 9:25 pm

    Well, nothing against the Portu-gal, but Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Paine, Madison actually did something for this country. 18th century Deists and Freemasons got it goin’ on :)

  27. July 3, 2008 9:33 pm

    Here are the thoughts from some guys that are from a very Catholic Country- Can’t get more Catholic than Poland’

    yall may enjoy this email sent to all American troops in Afghanistan from the Polish military stationed there.

    Subject: 4th of July Greeting

    Dear Friends

    Two hundred and thirty two years ago, when your forefathers signed the
    Declaration of Independence, they changed the history of the world.
    Thanks to their sacrifices the world realized the true meaning of
    freedom. Independence and freedom are powerful words in your country as
    they are in Poland.

    When the United States gained independence, Poland
    was in the process of slowly loosing portions of its borders to its
    neighbors. We appreciate your efforts towards a unified and independent
    United States of America because we know how difficult it is to regain
    freedom and independence. Today we can be very happy with living in
    independent countries. Today we fight together for freedom for people
    in other countries, like here in Afghanistan.

    4th of July and Independence Day are identified in our country with
    aspiring to freedom and that is why we are so happy that we can
    celebrate this day with American soldiers signifying our common goals
    for peace and freedom.

    Today we wish you and your nation a peaceful and happy day.

    Polish Soldiers
    Polish Military Contingent Afghanistan

  28. July 3, 2008 9:44 pm

    My favorite 4th of July story is that Jefferson AND Adams both died on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration, no less. Btw, that HBO series is fantastic.

  29. July 3, 2008 10:02 pm

    It is often forgotten but the Catholic to sign the declaration was the last to die. He was like 95 that being Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832).

    In a tad of humorous bad hisory in the very Cool movie “National Treasure” had him in it but they mess up saying he was a Mason lol

    Anyway the last words of the Last Signer of the Declaration to be alive were:

    ” I have lived to my ninety-sixth year ; I have enjoyed continued health, I have been blessed with great wealth, prosperity, and most of the good things which the world can bestow — public approbation, esteem, applause ; but what I now look back on with the greatest satisfaction to myself is, that I have practiced the duties of my religion.”

  30. July 3, 2008 11:02 pm

    Doesn’t the same thing happen on Thanksgiving?

    Yes. See my post “Subverting the Empire’s Eucharist” here. Perhaps the worst of the bunch is Memorial Day, the worst parody of the Paschal Mystery that was ever dreamed up. (I blogged on Memorial Day last year here, and and my own blog.) Columbus Day is also a horrific feast day of the state, but fortunately most americans are realizing how screwed up it is.

    jh – Usually I hear on these holiday- we have Freedom but true Freedom is in Christ and we have a Responsibilty as American etc etc. Sort of what Pope Benedict said on the WHite House Lawn

    Consider yourself lucky then! I’m sure the rest of us could tell countless stories of inappropriately patriotic Masses.

    THe fact is we should be concerned that people don’t go to weekday Mass period.

    Daily Mass is a nice practice, but hardly obligatory.

    What are talking on a weekday Mass. Like a 5 or 10 minutes top homily?

    A lot of damage can be done in five minutes, whether in a homily or in nationalistic hymnody. Stan Hauerwas says it best:

    “One reason why we Christians argue so much about which hymn to sing, which liturgy to follow, which way to worship is that the commandments teach us to believe that bad liturgy eventually leads to bad ethics. You begin by singing some sappy, sentimental hymn, then you pray some pointless prayer, and the next thing you know you have murdered your best friend.”

    Rick – I have only been in Toronto two years, but it seems like our experience of Canada Day is different. Perhaps you see more similarities between the two because you experienced the joint celebrations on the border. Aside from a few cannons fired in the early afternoon, Canada Day in Toronto seemed pretty quiet. It wasn’t mentioned in church on Sunday, which is standard practice for the Sunday preceding July 4 in the u.s.

  31. Magdalena permalink
    July 4, 2008 12:03 am

    Geez, while I appreciate and share your concerns, your approach seems to lack the Catholic “flavor” for lack of a better word. Grim and dour and gloomy, put your flags away, turn off the Sousa, smother your fireworks! The True Christian today will go about scowling at the revelers and muttering under his breath about foundational myths of violence etc.

    It some ways it reminds me of the Ultra Trad Catholics who grimace if you let your kids dress up in non-saint costumes and go trick or treating or otherwise join the secular community celebration of Halloween. Not a perfect analogy by any means but the feel is the same.

    This is another example of the Church being much more liberal-minded than some of her members. Christianity is not a gloomy or negative religion, in fact it is radically positive. Benedict XVI’s “affirmative orthodoxy” was on full display on his trip to America. Yes, he did praise the American tradition, where it matches up with and does not contradict the Gospel. There are many places where it does contradict the message of Jesus Christ, but the Pope did not come to our country with a list of denunciations in hand, instead he chose to nourish and strengthen what he found good in us.

    The Holy Father’s visit was all about “yes, yes, yes!” not “no, no, no.” I think the Holy Father would say “yes” to Catholics observing Independence Day, as they can use the occasion to celebrate what is great and good about our country. That doesn’t mean we should forget America’s sins (abortion, racism etc) or somehow place the Republic above Christ in our hearts. But the Catholic thing to do is to find even one glowing ember of holiness in any person or place and use the bellows until it fans into a burning flame. It’s not recommended that we bemoan the ashes and the dead fire and pour cold water on whatever sparks are left.

  32. July 4, 2008 1:13 am

    Patriotic homily or peace?

    I say the priest shouldnt even have a homily or have a two liner about the reading. Sometimes homilies simply distract us.

  33. July 4, 2008 1:20 am

    Michael in these days where people wrongly try to put a barrier between Govt and Faith it is a good thing for the Church to be involved.

    In the end the Faith is part of the Culture and the 4th is day to celebrate it.

    We spend plenty of time saying what is wrong and in tons of criticism. THere is a healthy balance.

    If there were sins of our founding and perhaps the sin was that the vision was inconplete this Nation made recompense to the Almighty for that in its own blood not one hundred years later

    GOD BLESS AMERICA

  34. July 4, 2008 3:18 am

    The Empire ? No more Star Wars for you, young man !

    There better be a barrier, as Jefferson said. In a country with a gazillion faiths no one of them deserves special privilege. Not to mention that the Founding Fathers I am familiar with all had a rathrt strong disdain for organized religion. There are some quotes that’d make it impossible for someone to get elected today. Of course, we got Bush and Obama, and they had Jefferson and Adams. Oy vey. Neither of them would stand a chance. From Jefferson to born-again ex-drunk. But at least he loves Jeeeesassss. Praise the Lorrrrrd. Pass the ammunition.

  35. July 4, 2008 3:20 am

    It some ways it reminds me of the Ultra Trad Catholics who grimace if you let your kids dress up in non-saint costumes and go trick or treating or otherwise join the secular community celebration of Halloween. Not a perfect analogy by any means but the feel is the same.

    Radical is radical, only the outfits, pet peeves and hobby horses change. Which is why I don’t subscribe to any one thing anymore.

  36. T. Shaw permalink
    July 4, 2008 7:03 am

    Herein we read examplars of the real “patriotism.” “Patriotism” (pessimism) that sees America as a half-empty glass of cold urine. “Patriotism” that sees America as evil from its inception: we stole it from the Indians, er, Native Americans – GIVE IT BACK! “Patriotism” that tells you unwashed (communist) youths shouting “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh! NLF is sure to win!” were patriots while 58,000 of America’s finest youths who gave their lives to try to save Vietnam from slavery were evil. “Patriotism” that execrates the uses the vast majority of citizens make of their liberties. “Patriotism” that will love America only when we unsuspecting helots come to our senses and obey them. We see mainly collectivism and statism herein.

    Anyhow, intellectual nonsense won’t affect any of us non compis mentus helots. It’s early, it’s not deer season, and I’m bored.

    Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!

    I only said some of my prayers. Be sure I will pray for the living and dead, the ill, and those in the war; I will pray for my native land where my fathers served and died; and I will pray for VICTORY.

    Which Comandment says “Honor thy Father”? For adults that means youir country. And, St. Dante, arbiter of medieval moral theology (my opinion), places the treacherous to country in lowest circle in Hell one round removed from Judas.

  37. July 4, 2008 8:46 am

    Which Comandment says “Honor thy Father”? For adults that means youir country.

    That’s the kind of thinking Bonhoeffer fought until his death. Yes, hopefully you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

  38. July 4, 2008 8:49 am

    you unwashed (communist) youths shouting “Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh! NLF is sure to win!”

    The people you describe did those things almost 50 years ago. They’ll soon be in rest homes, complaining about their grandchildren. They can’t hurt you any more. In fact, they never could.

  39. Gerald Augustinus permalink
    July 4, 2008 9:14 am

    Silly, that’s NFL ;)

    Michael I. just wears the non-conformist uniform every 4th. It’ll probably go away with age.

  40. Liam permalink
    July 4, 2008 9:29 am

    Pace Michael’s experience, my remembered experience of over four decades as a Catholic in the US, I cannot remember when a weekday Independence Day was the subject of an announcement or even special bulletin notice the preceding Sunday.

    As for times when the day fell on a Saturday or Sunday, other than the Bicentennial day of 4 Juily 1976, I cannot recall a patriotic homily either. A homily that included prayer for our country – but not patriotic as such. Even the Sunday after 11 September 2001 was not a patriotic homily.

    Patriotic closing hymns – yes, those are common for liturgies celebrated on Sundays. And I have my own views on whihc might be most or least appropriate for such use, but I won’t drag the topic offline here.

  41. asn permalink
    July 4, 2008 10:04 am

    My Ukrainian parish is fairly liberal (if one must label it) but we still have Divine Liturgy on 4th of July and sing “God Bless America” at the end of the Divine Liturgy… I guess you have to come from a place (Ukraine in our case) where you actually experience oppression in order to appreciate freedom.

  42. July 4, 2008 10:26 am

    I just got back from Mass. We used the readings from the St. Elizabeth memorial; Father’s homily touched on the Amos reading. The theme was that with freedom comes responsibility, and he wished everyone a happy 4th. I played the organ; choir sang Faith of Our Fathers for entrance, America the Beautiful for exit. Not really what I would call an exercise in triumphalism. Just a nice day off to spend with family.

  43. July 4, 2008 10:27 am

    Not to mention that the Founding Fathers I am familiar with all had a rather strong disdain for organized religion.

    Which ones, Gerald? — I’d say they had a strong aversion to aligning national identity with any ONE religion (or denomination of Christianity, rather). Thomas Jefferson’s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779) gets at their chief concern (non-coercion):

    We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

    I found Michael Novak’s On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding a corrective to the notion that most of our founding fathers were hostile to Christianity.

  44. July 4, 2008 10:44 am

    T. Shaw – I was just pointing out that your rants about communist youth are severely out of date. I live in Berkeley, for Pete’s sake. Last time I was on Telegraph Avenue (next to the campus) there were street vendors selling tie-dye t-shirts to young, liberal college students…most of whom had crew cuts, and regarded the t-shirts the same way that their grandparents, the historical hippies, might have regarded bobbed hair and Al Jolson records: relics from a previous age.

  45. July 4, 2008 10:54 am

    Who cares if they were hostile to Christianity, where they hostile to Catholicism? I don’t care a whit what a bunch of Deists and assorted Protestants thought. This is a Protestant nation, and always has been– Catholics who get too close will only get burned.

  46. July 4, 2008 11:17 am

    Who cares if they were hostile to Christianity, where they hostile to Catholicism? I don’t care a whit what a bunch of Deists and assorted Protestants thought. This is a Protestant nation, and always has been– Catholics who get too close will only get burned.

    Your love for your country and your Christian brothers and sisters is truly stirring. Thank you, MM.

  47. July 4, 2008 11:19 am

    Who cares if they were hostile to Christianity, where they hostile to Catholicism? I don’t care a whit what a bunch of Deists and assorted Protestants thought. This is a Protestant nation, and always has been– Catholics who get too close will only get burned.

    Actually, while Catholics were in the minority, and there indeed existed some anti-Catholic bigotry, many Catholics were involved and supported the War for Independence. Remember that the colonists were the subjects of a king who was the leader of a major Protestant Church and who continued the persecution of Catholics that his forebearers began. No doubt, the attitude reflected in Christopher’s quote of Jefferson is far more in keeping with the principles of religious freedom that we see reflected in CST, than the Protestant Imperialist regime of the British crown. We get that you despise the US, MM, but at least try to come by it honestly.

  48. July 4, 2008 11:44 am

    I guess you have to come from a place (Ukraine in our case) where you actually experience oppression in order to appreciate freedom.

    Maybe you’re right… No one seems to be oppressed in the united states.

    Actually, while Catholics were in the minority, and there indeed existed some anti-Catholic bigotry, many Catholics were involved and supported the War for Independence.

    They must have been reading that liberation theology stuff, eh?

  49. Gerald Augustinus permalink
    July 4, 2008 11:48 am

    John Adams:
    Indeed, Mr. Jefferson, what could be invented to debase the ancient Christianism which Greeks, Romans, Hebrews and Christian factions, above all the Catholics, have not fraudulently imposed upon the public? Miracles after miracles have rolled down in torrents.

    Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved — the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!

    The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning…. And, even since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will soon find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your legs and hands, and fly into your face and eyes.

    Thomas Jefferson
    Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

    In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.

    My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there

    You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.

    Priests…dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.

  50. Mark DeFrancisis permalink*
    July 4, 2008 12:31 pm

    T Shaw,

    Why aren’t you at your annual ritual of natural praise, you know, rounding up to BBQ all of the kiddies of the neighborhood whom you suspect will grow up to be intellectuals with communist /socialist sympathies?

    I heard you had a cookout of humungous proportions/portions last 4th. Gotta’ top it this year, out of your abiding love of country.

  51. July 4, 2008 1:09 pm

    Thanks for the quotes, Gerald. I think one should bear in mind that they remain the opinions of single men — perhaps the better question here would be: what were the Founding Father’s attitudes toward organized religion respective to the state?

    Here is a religious breakdown of the “Founding Fathers”. Conscious as they were of the religious wars of Europe they had no wish to repeat what they perceived as the dangers inherent in a temporal identification of church and state. But this is not to say they weren’t favorable to, or conscious of, religion as a backbone to the moral health of the Republic.

    Jefferson was perhaps harbored the most hostility towards Christianity (as we know he took to the scriptures with a literary scissors, excising from them any supernatural references to form his own deist bible). Still, despite his personal animus towards priests, he on one occasion in 1803 supported aid to the Indians and — the majority of the tribe being baptized Catholics — “towards the support of a priest of that religion, who will engage to perform for the said tribe the duties of his office.”

    Likewise, leading by example, Jefferson as President regularly attended church services in the House of Representatives, and permitted such services in executive branch buildings — which itself is indicative of his respect for religion in relation to the health of the state. (Such services were Protestant; the first Catholic sermon wasn’t preached in the House until 1826).

    John Adams was at best a Unitarian, but even so asserted that “Without Religion this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell” (to Jefferson April 19, 1817); he also said “Our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other,” and to his wife remarked that statesmen “may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”

    See Religion and the Founding of the American Republic – an interesting online exhibit from the Library of Congress.

  52. July 4, 2008 1:11 pm

    I heard you had a cookout of humungous proportions/portions last 4th. Gotta’ top it this year, out of your abiding love of country.

    Mark — honestly, do you even have an ounce of appreciation for what occurred on the 4th of July?

  53. T. Shaw permalink
    July 4, 2008 1:13 pm

    MarkD,

    Righto.

    Order of the Day: Double rum rations and gun salutes.

    The kids in the ‘hood are safe. It’s the kittens and puppy dogs that keep coming up missing. That’s because we have no such kiddies. The hopeless souls who may breed kids with commie/socialist leanings don’t have any. They abort them or use artificial contraception.

    No BBQ. The Mrs. is doing a 12 in the MICU. She’s who (been doing it 35 years) keeps you alive if you’re in the hospital hurt locker. They broke the mold after her.

    Don’t tell her I said that.

  54. July 4, 2008 1:18 pm

    Mark – I plan to take a bath later in some red, white and blue potato salad.

  55. July 4, 2008 1:34 pm

    Christopher – Is that breaking news supposed to stand in contrast to my insistence that american Christians have a problem with idolatry and blind obedience inspired by nationalistic tendencies? Or is it more of a “FYI” sort of thing? Yes, the empire is in good shape, at least in terms of the number of bodies willing to be colonized by the state as killing machines. Are Catholics not supposed to make moral judgments about their country, or are they simply supposed to be mindlessly inspired by such examples of ersatz discipleship?

    5,500 years should be enough for McCain’s plans in Iraq and Iran, I guess.

  56. Mark DeFrancisis permalink*
    July 4, 2008 1:34 pm

    Michael,

    From my three years experience in Toronto, July 1st never, ever approached anything like July 4ths in this country.

    Yeah. Maybe I’ll invite the ‘regulars’ here over to my place and give them TWO Popsicle Rocket Pops (you know the blueberry, white lemon and cherry combos, all on one patriot rocket shaped piece of frozen ice) each. But I worry that that would that be irreverent…

  57. Gerald Augustinus permalink
    July 4, 2008 3:11 pm

    4th of July is plain, unadulterated fun. It’s shrill and loud. Anyone who takes offense should clearly be thrown up in the trees with the feces-throwers in Berkeley. Get a life. I celebrated 4th of July just now by taking a joy ride over the Altamont pass, stereo blasting, singing loudly along to Me and Bobby McGee (Kris Kristofferson original). With the widen open country in our hearts and those romantic dreams in our hearts. I just love it here, despite all the religious nutters, from SSPX to James Dobson. Here, you can still fight the good fight, like campaigning for equal rights, opposition from bishops, preachers and Michael Savage notwithstanding. America is an ever-renewing promise. The genius of those “Freemasons, Protestants and Deists” is something to be thankful for. Cheers to John, Abigail, Thomas, Benjamin, George, Martha and so forth.
    ……

    Maybe next year the predictably conformist nonconformism (look at us, we’re critical !) could take a day off ?

    I do have a problem with idolatry, but it’s Japanese, my Canon 1Ds Mark III and 1D Mark III.

    Michael, the McCain comment is funny.

    Mark – what’s there to celebrate in Canada ? Yay, soon we’ll have Sharia law ? Yay, we have no free speech ? Yay, all our actors go to L.A. ? Yay, we can’t pronounce about ? We’re French AND Canadian ? Double the pleasure, double the fun. Canadians better sleep with one eye open – once we’re out of resources… :P

  58. Gerald Augustinus permalink
    July 4, 2008 3:12 pm

    Michael, you can criticize all you want, but to do so on Independence Day is just so gauche and predictable.

  59. July 4, 2008 3:36 pm

    America is an ever-renewing promise.

    This is a faith statement.

    Mark – what’s there to celebrate in Canada ? Yay, soon we’ll have Sharia law ? Yay, we have no free speech ? Yay, all our actors go to L.A. ? Yay, we can’t pronounce about ? We’re French AND Canadian ? Double the pleasure, double the fun. Canadians better sleep with one eye open – once we’re out of resources… :P

    How about you, and others, cut out the insults toward Canadians?

    And Gerald, we all know about your new blog. No need for shameless (shameful?) promotion in this thread.

  60. July 4, 2008 5:46 pm

    You know, Gerald, Canada just bestowed it’s highest civilian honor upon an abortionist. We shouldn’t rub salt in the wound with further insults.

  61. July 4, 2008 5:59 pm

    You know, Gerald, Canada just bestowed it’s highest civilian honor upon an abortionist. We shouldn’t rub salt in the wound with further insults.

    Are you seriously going to speak with an air of superiority about this, considering the country you are venerating today continues to maintain abortion as a human right, and that it fights wars precisely in order to promote its “freedom of choice” as the superior way of life? Are you that blinded by your patriotism?

    I mean, if that’s what it takes to get you people to see reality, fine. You’re slurping down hot dogz and blowing shit up in order to honor a nation whose ideology has consistently justified the murder of its own children. There’s something to celebrate!

    Pass me the potato salad, Grandpa!

  62. July 4, 2008 6:16 pm

    The present Pope and his predecessor were not above complimenting our nation on its founding and the convictions of the signers, I’m quite content to follow their lead.

  63. July 4, 2008 6:27 pm

    Don’t project your americanist tendencies on the Holy Fathers, Christopher.

  64. July 4, 2008 6:38 pm

    Surely it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that John Paul II and Benedict XVI could appreciate the principles upon which America was founded? — I’ll let them speak for themselves.

  65. July 4, 2008 6:47 pm

    “Your love for your country and your Christian brothers and sisters is truly stirring. Thank you, MM.”

    Let’s not go through this crap again. I’m an anti-nationalist, I don’t respect the nation state. I regard the US as a mere administrative boundary that serves some functions of organization (but violates subsidiarity on many levels). And, no, I cannot “love” or “hate” a geographical administrative unit.

  66. July 4, 2008 6:50 pm

    And while we are all in “rah rah” mode, how can you possibly proclaim that the war of independence was a just war? Can it possibly have been a last resort?

    As for me, I enjoy spending time with family, and that’s it really.

  67. July 4, 2008 6:59 pm

    MM,

    America is more than a Administrative UNit.

    It is a Idea, it is a People, it is Principles. That is what is being clebrated

  68. July 4, 2008 7:16 pm

    America declared Independence. That Britain responded with military force is their deal. You should be thankful for Protestants and Deists, MM, it took Catholic countries a LOT longer to become democratic. Just look at Ireland until not that long ago for a quasi-theocracy.

  69. July 4, 2008 7:21 pm

    I’m an anti-nationalist, I don’t respect the nation state.

    I think “anti-patriot” might be a better term.

  70. July 4, 2008 7:31 pm

    I don’t know what MM’s dreaming off, but it must have gone out of fashion around the time agriculture was discovered.

  71. July 4, 2008 7:51 pm

    I hope everyone tunes in to watchthe Fireworks and hear the wonderful Music as Fireworks go off on our National Mall (insert flag)

  72. July 4, 2008 8:11 pm

    America declared Independence. That Britain responded with military force is their deal.

    Actually, the war had already been going on for over a year before (April 19, 1775) the Declaration was signed.

    …how can you possibly proclaim that the war of independence was a just war? Can it possibly have been a last resort?

    Well, that’s the tough thing when making such judgments. Recall that the war started when General Gage marched his troops into Lexington and Concord to arrest Hancock and Sam Adams AND to raid the citizens weapons store. It’s still a mystery as to who fired the first shot, but one thing for sure, at the moment the Minute Men and British regulars were squaring off on Lexington Green the British had already made it clear that the last resort had passed. And a few months later the patriots tried to reach a peace with King George when they sent the Olive Branch petition. The King didn’t accept it, he was just as bent on putting down the colonists then as he was in April. Bottom line, both sides had grievances and had reason to believe they were in the right. God knows who was just (if anyone at all) for sure.

  73. July 4, 2008 8:56 pm

    Well, I do like the outcome :) Consequentialism, I believe.

  74. Mark DeFrancisis permalink*
    July 4, 2008 10:42 pm

    Christopher,

    Your Mennonite ancestors, I am sure, would look kindly upon such a celebration of enlistment numbers and your pseudo-Catholic defense of our unjust invasion of Iraq.

  75. July 5, 2008 2:43 am

    “And on the day that the rest of the united states celebrates its foundational myth of violence and the sacrifices of soldiering which parody the Cross, let us be ever more formed by the words of Jesus in the Gospel reading for July 4th: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

    I just noticed this was not addressed. Matthew is realting what Jesus said that had personal significance to him no doubt as a person. Christ is basically say as to the scene here that the Pharisees’ are reacting too is .Christ is saying e want to be merciful, not to condemn and that he wants to save the sinner not sacrifice him

  76. July 5, 2008 7:14 am

    Michael: I hear your words of caution and I appreciate them. At the same time, I think you go too far. I am sitting here thinking that if you are scandalized at the 4th of July, you would have a complete heart attack at the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Don’t go to a Church that is “too Mexican” because those Mexicans cannot relate one bit to the separation of nationalism and Faith. And Sept 16th? Then I think about Korean Catholic community in Anchorage who celebrates their countries holidays at Mass with their flags no less.

    You focus on the US, but when I think of Poles, Germans, and Mexicans, Ecuadorans and Costa Ricans, Koreans, and Samoans (these are the ones I am really familiar with) this is just how it happens. As a people’s faith matures, though, I think they have to begin to separate what is of God and what is of man.

    But for me, after living abroad in a 3rd world country, I am grateful for my country. Is it the ONLY country that is worth living in? For me, nope, but it is the only one that is my home and I love my home.

  77. July 5, 2008 10:12 am

    At the top of this blog there is the quote:
    “In their patriotism and in their fidelity to their civic duties Catholics will feel themselves bound to promote the true common good; ..

    Again, I think when someone says “I’m an anti-nationalist, I don’t respect the nation state”, what he means is “I am anti-patriotism”.

  78. July 5, 2008 10:55 am

    Zippy – If that’s what you think, then you simply need to learn the terms. Patriotism and nationalism are different realities. The Church teaches this. Of course there is no clear dividing line between the two, and I am skeptical when folks label what happens in the U.S. as patriotism rather than nationalism though because there are clear nationalistic tendencies. As for the nation-state, it is a recent development in history, and the Church has never bound herself to the type of political organization called the nation-state. There are other ways to organize societies.

    Have no problems necessarily with a certain type of patriotism, and thus have no problems with the quote at the top of the blog. However, I do think that real patriotism needs to be de-linked from the nation-state and must refer to authentic human communities, a local-personalism so to speak. I wrote on it here: http://vox-nova.com/2007/07/18/toward-a-catholic-regional-patriotism/

    That is my position. It has been clearly stated. So you have no excuse now, and should you misrepresent me further, we can assume it is intentional.

    RCM – You make a good point, but my concerns about U.S. nationalism involve the relationship the U.S. has with other communities, not simply its internal spirit or behaviors. I believe there is a clear difference between the nationalism of the united states and the nationalisms of most other countries. Nationalism is always dangerous. While peripheral nations sometimes rightly assert their personhood, resistance and autonomy through nationalism, it can become neurotic and exclusionary. But the nationalism of the united states is a nationalism of dominance.

  79. July 5, 2008 11:36 am

    Patriotism and nationalism are different realities.

    I absolutely agree. At issue though is whether a patriot can say something like “I don’t respect the nation-state.” I think the person who says that is indeed expressing anti-nationalism, and in addition is expressing anti-patriotism. That is, I think when you try to disconnect patriotism from actual historical countries what you are really doing is getting rid of patriotism.

    Also, as I mentioned before, though the comment was deleted, I think this post is in very bad taste.

  80. July 5, 2008 11:49 am

    At issue though is whether a patriot can say something like “I don’t respect the nation-state.” I think the person who says that is indeed expressing anti-nationalism, and in addition is expressing anti-patriotism.

    Then you still don’t understand your terms.

    That is, I think when you try to disconnect patriotism from actual historical countries what you are really doing is getting rid of patriotism.

    Read the post I linked to. I am in favor of de-linking patriotism from the nation-state, because the nation-state is not a real community. But I am all in favor of being deeply rooted in actual historical communities.

    Also, as I mentioned before, though the comment was deleted, I think this post is in very bad taste.

    Your comment must have contained an insult or something irrelevant. Please review our comment policy.

    Sorry you think a return to the liturgical calendar and a commitment to the transnational Body of Christ is in bad taste, but that is a result of your weak ecclesiology. Bad ecclesiology is what leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  81. July 5, 2008 12:06 pm

    I am in favor of de-linking patriotism from the nation-state, because the nation-state is not a real community.

    I understand that. I just think it is flat wrong — countries are real historical communities. The claim that abortion is not murder because the foetus is not a real person is a similar claim, in the sense that we have to postulate that the ‘object’ in question is something that it is not in order for the argument to hang together.

    It is not at all uncommon for one who hates a thing to assert the non-being of that thing.

    And, obviously, it isn’t the issue of the liturgical calendar per se which is in bad taste.

  82. July 5, 2008 12:13 pm

    It is a bit of an odd discussion, Michael, because you and I share not insignificant understanding when it comes to acknowledging America’s flaws. The difference is precisely that while I still love our drunk grandfather, and will the best for him, you refuse to even acknowledge his existence.

  83. July 5, 2008 1:13 pm

    I understand that. I just think it is flat wrong — countries are real historical communities…. The difference is precisely that while I still love our drunk grandfather, and will the best for him, you refuse to even acknowledge his existence.

    I think we differ in our understanding of the word “community.” Of course I acknowledge the existence of the united states. But it is not a community in any real sense, at least in terms of how I understand “community.”

    The claim that abortion is not murder because the foetus is not a real person is a similar claim…

    Oh brother . . . .

  84. July 5, 2008 1:16 pm

    And, obviously, it isn’t the issue of the liturgical calendar per se which is in bad taste.

    But obviously this is the subject of my post, so why say that the post is in bad taste?

  85. July 5, 2008 1:21 pm

    “And on the day that the rest of the united states celebrates its foundational myth of violence and the sacrifices of soldiering which parody the Cross, let us be ever more formed by the words of Jesus in the Gospel reading for July 4th: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

    I just noticed this was not addressed. Matthew is realting what Jesus said that had personal significance to him no doubt as a person. Christ is basically say as to the scene here that the Pharisees’ are reacting too is .Christ is saying e want to be merciful, not to condemn and that he wants to save the sinner not sacrifice him

    As this comment is largely unintelligible, I suppose that part of my post remains “unaddressed.”

  86. July 5, 2008 1:24 pm

    But it is not a community in any real sense, at least in terms of how I understand “community.”

    Right: you must negate the community-hood of America in order for your argument to hang together. Eye roll or not, that is closely analogous to negating the personhood of the foetus in order for the pro-abortion argument to hold together.

  87. July 5, 2008 1:36 pm

    Michael yes I was not very clear as to the scripture verse

    To be more clear what Christ is talking about and teaching about has nothing to with a supposed “foundational myth of violence and the sacrifices of soldiering which parody the Cross”

  88. July 5, 2008 2:04 pm

    Right: you must negate the community-hood of America in order for your argument to hang together. Eye roll or not, that is closely analogous to negating the personhood of the foetus in order for the pro-abortion argument to hold together.

    To be more precise, I am not denying the “community-hood” of america, but arguing that the united states is not a particular type of community.

    What is your point exactly? Is there a point? Or are you simply seeking to conjure up the emotions linked to abortion to bolster your own position? It’s a bizarre association to make, unless a mere emotional response is what you’re after.

    (Not all pro-abortion arguments deny the personhood of the fetus, by the way.)

  89. July 5, 2008 3:06 pm

    We’re 300 million people, that it’s a community with a fairly common identity at all is a miracle.

    Michael, by now you should know that abortion pops up like the Spanish Inquisition in the Monty Python bit. It’s like Kevin Bacon, too, only it usually takes fewer degrees.

    It goes like this /sarcasm on (I’m adding the Hitler analogy on purpose, to check another box)

    “Hitler murdered six million Jews !”
    – “But he was against abortion !”

    or
    “Bush has started an unnecessary war that’s cost us billions and killed thousands. Our economy is in the tank and we’ve lost all credibility in combating a future real threat.”
    – “But he’s against abortion !”

    Fools to the left of me, jokers to the right…

  90. July 5, 2008 3:07 pm

    * make that trillions

  91. July 5, 2008 3:24 pm

    Gerald – I’m guessing you mean “miracle” in the loosest sense possible, and not in any sort of theological sense.

    I agree with you on the way abortion is used in these sorts of discussions.

  92. July 5, 2008 5:16 pm

    What is your point exactly?

    That you are wrong to assert that America is not a community, and that your wrongness to all appearances stems from your hatred of America as a community rather than its actually not being a community.

  93. Tulipa permalink
    July 5, 2008 8:47 pm

    Well said, Magdelena.

  94. July 5, 2008 10:15 pm

    That you are wrong to assert that America is not a community…

    So you’re ignoring my clarification then? Nice.

    …and that your wrongness to all appearances stems from your hatred of America as a community rather than its actually not being a community.

    I don’t hate America. You’re wrong.

  95. July 5, 2008 10:20 pm

    I’m leaving town for a few days, visiting the great city of Chicago and DePaul University for a conference. In light of some recent racist content in this thread, I’m turning comments off for a few days since I won’t be able to “police” them.

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