Freedom: It’s Inspiring!
Her poem, “The Great Colossus,” continues to inspire Americans on how we think about freedom.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Our country is a good country. Despite our problems and challenges, our shores have provided freedom and opportunity for millions of people. In his first Inaugural Address (January 20, 1981), President Ronald Reagan said: “If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth.”
Great Challenges for Good People
Yes, America is a good country. Pope Pius XII, at the end of World War II, recognized this when he said: “The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind.”
However, we all know too well that our nation is currently challenged by many difficulties. Not only is the threat of terrorism a daily source of anxiety and fear, the rapid unraveling of every sense of moral decency is alarming. For three decades the issue of abortion has been at the forefront of a cultural war. The numbers of known legal abortions since Roe v. Wade is staggering to the imagination: 43,957,777.
Recently a new issue has entered the battlefield of the culture war. A Supreme Court decision (Lawrence v. Texas) opened the doors to a new definition of marriage.
Regarding same-sex marriage, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published a comprehensive teaching on the subject. I recommend that you read the entire text, which speaks to our nation as a whole in its concluding point:
The state has an obligation to promote the family, which is rooted in marriage. Therefore, it can justly give married couples rights and benefits it does not extend to others. Ultimately, the stability and flourishing of society is dependent on the stability and flourishing of healthy family life.
Needed: Spiritual Renewal
Many Catholics, both members of the clergy and the laity, at times are overwhelmed by the overpowering challenges that a decadent culture presents for the full living out of the gospel. Nevertheless, Catholics must never concede to the darkness of discouragement or despair. In my judgment, there are three necessary elements to a strategy that will plant the seeds for a spiritual rebirth in America:
1. Parents must dedicate themselves to the loving and responsible education and formation of their children.
2. Priests must provide dynamic, joyful and faithful parish communities that support family life through well-prepared liturgies, homilies that address the issues of our day with clarity, and efficient faith formation programs.
3. Everyone who is of age must participate in the political life of our country by voting for candidates that are unconditionally pro-life and support traditional family values.
On this Fourth of July, as we confront the many dangers that may even challenge the existence of civilization as we know it, I am inspired by the notable words that President Ronald Reagan spoke in 1964:
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.
Father James Farfaglia is Pastor of St. Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. Originally from Ridgefield, Connecticut, Father has founded and developed apostolates for the Catholic Church in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Canada and throughout the United States. He may be reached by e-mail at Icthus@GoCCN.org.