Traditionally, we at Clarifying Catholicism giving our writers the Summer off. However, for special occasions like Independence Day, a few of us would like to share our appreciation and aspirations for this great nation. We asked writers to detail what they appreciate most about this country and how Catholics can work towards making it a better place. A longer reflection by Manager Juliet Mattingly is below their reflections.
“I am grateful for the opportunities this country gives us to express our Catholic faith. I truly believe that this is the best nation in the world to be Catholic in today, due to our ability to study, profess, and preach our faith without fear of censorship and persecution. As Catholics, I it is our duty to not only make the world a better place, but to preserve the values that give us the ability to do so in the place. Perhaps one of the Church’s greatest assets is its rich intellectual tradition. We must never be intimidated from contributing our perspective to the American marketplace of ideas. The United States is special because it provides all religions with a stage to shine, so let us take center stage and thrive as God’s shining city on a hill.”
–William Deatherage, Executive Director, The Catholic University of America
“It is important to me to live in the U.S. as a Catholic so that I can practice my religion freely and peacefully. It is important we stay engaged as Catholics so that our rights do not get taken away.”
-Mary Ryan, Director of Programming
“I am thankful to live in the United States because it is one of the best places in the world for free flow of information and expression. It is a stable and safe country with a myriad of cultures, religions, and languages within it. And it offers the opportunity of people to change how they want their country to function for the betterment of all. Catholics and others of faith can participate in bettering the country by fostering a culture of day-to-day goodness toward other people. This means deciding to give money to people on the street and taking care of the sick. It’s easy to think that politics is the only way to solve these problems, but we often forget that it is less direct than the easy bit of help we can give someone in need.”
–Jacob Dicken, Trustee, University of Oregon
“I’m grateful for this country for letting so many Catholics live out and practice their faith openly and protect such practice under the law. As Catholics, we must start making our parish communities better. If we all do that, we will find ourselves in a better country.”
–Liam O’Toole, Trustee, The Catholic University of America
“I am grateful for the ability to practice the Catholic religion without severe oppression from the government. It would be great if every Catholic would pray the Holy Rosary every day.”
-Leo Pio, Editor of Biblical Theology, The Catholic University of America
“I am thankful to live in the U. S. because of the U. S. Constitution, a document like no other which exists to safeguard basic, human rights that aren’t offered or protected to the extent that they are in the States. Concepts like “the presumption of innocence,” “due process,” or true “freedom of speech” seldom exist in other countries and the fact that they do in the the U. S. is a statement of what many here tend to value: a marketplace of ideas, diversity, and individuality. Catholics can make this country a better place each day by upholding this long-standing American ideal of freedom through continuing to advocate for those who need help standing in society, protecting those who are for some reason unable to stand for themselves, and by never forgetting how fundamental the family unity is in the scope of small communities to society at large.”
-Noein, Editor of Special Projects
“I’m grateful to live in a country where I can freely and passionately celebrate my faith.”- Ariel Hobbs, The Catholic University of America
“While others in the world cannot practice their faith or are persecuted, America still remains a fairly free nation to practice the Catholic faith. We must place the fate of our nation in the hands of Christ, especially through Mary.
-Catherine Viz, Manager of Recruitment for the University of Notre Dame
“I am thankful to live in the United States because of the brotherhood founded in the belief that all humanity is entitled to liberty and the individual is allowed to protect themselves (bearing arms) and seek equal protection under the law. Catholics can help make our country better by authentically living in the freedom that comes from following Christ. Through living with the child like joy that comes from choosing to listen for and try to do Gods will, receiving the grace to follow Jesus through prayer and the sacraments, Catholics can be a beacon of hope.”
-Anja Renkes, The University of Notre Dame
“I am thankful for the multitude of opportunities to better myself mentally and spiritually. I think that we, as Catholics, ought to live our faith authentically, bringing Christ to everyone around us.”
-Marianna Rice, Administrative Manager for Benedictine College
“I am proud to be an American because I have the opportunity to grow and learn much about the world. We must challenge each other everyday to be better than we were yesterday. Accept the problems you can’t change and focus on the ones that you can make different.”
-Thomas Tighe, Benedictine College
“For all the issues this country has, I’m thankful for the fact that I’m free to live out my Catholic identity everyday. First and foremost, pray for our country everyday. Pray for our leaders, that they may lead our government in a way that fulfills what the Church asks of them. Second, don’t be afraid to witness to your faith. Vote for those whose platforms authentically align with Church teaching. Protest against injustice. Be not afraid.”
-Patrick Frazier, Franciscan University of Steubenville
“I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to my ancestors and government leaders for leading our country to where it is today. It is because of their efforts towards peace, that I am free. As Catholics, we must pray for our government officials, our president, and for all citizens of America, that we may be guided towards peace in the eyes of Christ.”
-Victoria Schweitzer, Franciscan University of Steubenville
“I’m thankful to living in the United States because I’m an immigrant and if it weren’t for this country, I wouldn’t be healthy and alive. I also would be an orphan. I also wouldn’t be Catholic. I think Catholics have an obligation to be good active citizens and vote according to what they believe and actually do research before voting. That way our nation can actually change for the better.”
-Faith Kowitz, Franciscan University of Steubenville
“I’m thankful to live here because of all the freedoms we enjoy. Catholics can contribute to their communities by learning what the faith actually teaches and living their faith in their daily lives.”
-Katie Hugo, Franciscan University of Steubenville
“I am thankful to live in the United States because of the ability to serve one’s country through direct participation in government. We need more holy politicians in both parties.”
-Grady Stuckman, Franciscan University of Steubenville
A Fourth of July Reflection
by Juliet Mattingly, Manager of Recruitment for Benedictine College
On July 4, 1776, we stood up and told the British government exactly what we thought of their abuse of power. “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” We took for ourselves the right to provide for and govern our own people in the way that they deserve. “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” (The Declaration of Independence). We refused to lay down and take the injustice, instead standing up to defend our own, whatever the cost. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” (The Declaration of Independence).
When created our government, we crafted a system that would empower the people and give them a say in how their homeland would be governed. One of the most important pieces of the United States Constitution is the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” (The First Amendment). This sentence promises that each of us has the ability to influence, not only the government, but the mindset of the entire country. The freedoms in the First Amendment have empowered many people over the years to pursue political equality and a greater individual freedom. From voting rights for women and African Americans to the legalization of same-sex marriage, there are many examples of how the freedom of speech has deeply effected America – for better or for worse. Today’s America is far from the Christian-based legacy that the founding fathers left behind. The fight for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” has become centered around the ability for the individual to do whatever they please.
As Catholics in today’s America, we have a responsibility to take advantage of what we have the constitutional right to do – live our faith and speak out with heads held high. We have the ability and the right to be that radical cultural influence and counteract the negative movements of today’s society. Christ told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). Here in our own nation, we can live out this calling every day. What a blessing it is that we can go to Mass with heads held high. What a blessing it is that we can speak freely about our faith. What a blessing it s that we have the right to be a counterbalance to the current mindset of society.
“The world needs saints, and all of us, without exception, are called to holiness. We are not afraid!” -Pope Francis
One Last Reflection: Anonymous
“It is good to be an American Catholic because it permits one to work in the Department of Justice and eventually establish the integralist state[…] kidding.”