2021 has been an uncertain time for many things but clearly for our nation.   As we celebrate July 4th this year we celebrate the 244th birthday of our nation.  The opening words of the Declaration of Independence gives us a clear challenge as a nation:: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all…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.”  The past year has challenged the values inherent in that document and certainly awakened in us the fear that we as a nation have not stood up to those values.  For the first time in our lifetime we saw “insurrection” manifested blatantly in our capital.  We’ve become aware of the unfair treatment shown to minorities be they Black, Hispanic , Asian or LBGTQ.  We enter this 245th year with hope that we can do better and that we can move closer to the values inherent in the Declaration of Independence.

Sometimes we focus so much on the negative aspects that we forget what a blessing it is to live in America.  Although we are far from perfect, on this holiday, we are invited to celebrate our freedom and the diversity of backgrounds within our communities.  We have the freedom to speak what we feel and the freedom to choose the type of life we want to live.   We need to thank God for the beauty of this nation and pray each day that we can live up to our ideals. 

All freedoms are accompanied by responsibilities.  We need to respect the freedom of all, treat all others the way we’d want to be treated and obey the laws of our land.  Our responsibilities call us to work toward justice for all.  That means to do what we can to save our planet and to create a safety net for those who are poor or marginalized for any reason. 

The United States of America was founded by people who believed in God.  They were people who thanked God for where God brought us.  No matter what you believe, this holiday is a great reminder of how blessed we are as a nation.  Let’s try to remember that we have to share our resources with one another and with countries that have so much less than we have. Let’s remember to pray for the leaders of our country and all of our brothers and sisters.  On this holiday let us love one another, support one another and rebuild the trust and civil dialogue that is so essential to our democracy. As we pray in gratitude, let’s start loving people more and hating them less; no matter how different they are from us.

Here at the Franciscan Spiritual Center we remember the love you shared with us and the support you provided.  Our prayer on this holiday is that you will be able to celebrate our nation with your family and friends and truly appreciate how blest we are.  Remember that the hermitages and Clare house are now available for all.  Perhaps they can provide some quiet to renew your heart.  Beginning in the Fall, Sr. Clare D’Auria is doing her monthly series at the Church of the Holy Child.  May you find time to rest and relax during these summer months.

Blessings and Love from the staff of the Franciscan Spiritual Center.