Redemptorists logo
Our Mother of Perpetual Help Icon
Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
Redemptorists logo


Thursday of the 13th week in ordinary time

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.

As we celebrate our national independence, I’d like to begin with a quote from a letter of John Adams, the second U.S. president to his wife, Abigail. He wrote:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

Adams’s prediction was off by two days, but he captured the general idea. July Fourth is all of what John Adams envisioned, although we as a nation could do better with “solemn acts of devotion.”

When the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, the war with Great Britain was only a year old. The future of the nation was far from certain. It took tremendous sacrifice and faith in God’s providence to clear our path to freedom.

The most significant sentence in the Declaration of Independence is its second: “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.” This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language,” containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history.”

The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration of Independence to be the foundation of his political philosophy and argued that it is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.

Perhaps the lesson we can learn on the this holiday is that if we as a nation pursue life and liberty as ferociously as we do the pursuit of happiness, we shall be well on our way in putting God and all of God’s people first and our pursuit of entertainment a distant second. Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

Father Kevin MacDonald, C.Ss.R.