God Bless America

Tomorrow is the birthday of our nation, and with the rest of you, I will be thanking God for the bountiful blessings He has lavished upon our wonderful country.  Daily I find myself praying for citizens and inhabitants of other nations where, instead of peace, prosperity, and freedom, they experience war, violence, hunger, persecution, sickness, poverty, and oppression.  May God continue to bless America!  May the Lord keep calling us to the noble virtues that have made us stand tall: a respect for all life, the hunger for justice, the desire for peace and the fostering of family life and the common good.

The quality we Americans most cherish is liberty.  It is here that we Christians, while patriots, often find ourselves restless.  Not that we are not grateful for our freedom – you bet we are!  But we admit that too often liberty has been misinterpreted to mean license.  No one articulated this apprehension better than Pope John Paul II, who taught, “genuine freedom is not the right to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought.”  So, our American freedom is not a “cutting loose” from God, morality, virtue, or responsibility, but a bracing impetus to carry out the duties that are ingrained deep in our soul.

For us as Catholics, the teaching of the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the preaching of Jesus, the morality of the Church, all enhance and protect genuine freedom.  God gives us freedom, and then implants in our hearts and reveals to us the sense of moral duty that allows us to live “in the freedom of the children of God.”

We believers, while so thankful for our political independence, are also concerned abut a moral autonomy, which makes us comfortable living without responsibility to God.  This desire to be “free from God,” has cursed us since the Garden of Eden.  Words such as subjection, lordship, kingdom, and servant are hardly popular in our American vocabulary.  In our religious lexicon, though, they are at the core of our relationship with God.  We know that America, like any other nation on earth, indeed, like the Israel of the Hebrew Scriptures, is at its best when it acknowledges its absolute reliance upon God and its trust in His sovereignty and providence.

It has been observed that perhaps the most revolutionary words an American can utter today are those which open the Creed:  “I believe in one God, the Father almighty…”  God, not I, is sovereign; the Lord, not the state, is almighty; God’s way, not mine, is normative; the Lord’s designs, not my puny plans, are definitive.  To rebel against God, then, brings, not liberty, but slavery; to obey the Lord leads, hardly to shackles, but to genuine freedom.

So, maybe I should be wishing you all a “Happy Dependence Day.”

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10 Responses to “God Bless America”

  1. annebender says:

    I am so grateful to be dependent upon our Good and Holy God! Thank you, Archbishop, for this timely reminder!

  2. Well said! God bless America!

  3. MaryG says:

    I can’t sing “God Bless America” anymore. God can’t bless a nation that turns its back on him and legalizes sin. Especially since He gave us so much.

    We expected to be rescued by the Supremes. That is, until Chief Justice Roberts, a very human secular deity, washed his hands of our salvation by saying: “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

    Perhaps we all better download the ten commandments and spend from now to November 6 taking a hard look at the two most violated commandments. Write them down, say a prayer and bring them into the voting booth with you: I am the Lord Thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not kill.

  4. Robert Fox says:

    The Alleluia which is sung this upcoming Sunday in the Tridentine or Latin Mass (aka The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) is one of the most beautiful alleluia of the liturgical year in the old rite. You can hear it sung for free at renegoupil.org under “Sunday, July 8th, 2012 : “6th Sunday after Pentecost” as Alleluia [full version]. The Gradual for next Sunday is also absolutely astounding.

    My reason for bringing this up is the succinct but very relevant theme throughout which prays “In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded; deliver me in thy justice, and release me; bow down thy ear to me, make haste to deliver me.”

    So as we approach this 4th of July… I pray that we can have the courage to look inside ourselves and inside our own Church and have enough intellectual honesty to say what has worked and what has not worked for the past 4 decades. For the slavery of relativism which has gripped many of our own Catholic institutions can not multiply except for perhaps in progressive Catholic “institutions of learning”.

    Indeed, over these last four decades as Catholics we have permitted ourselves to be confounded. By putting our trust in “experts” attorneys, programs, political systems, we have basically been evangelized by the WORLD instead of the other way around.

    I love this country and I would be willing to die in any just war to defend her. But I also do not allow myself to forget that there is a brand of Christianity which came to this country which was anything but Catholic. In fact, there were times in the early days and even as recently as the turn of the last century where Catholics were driven OUT of the “new world”. It is important to remember this and to NOT BE AFRAID of this if we intend to become citizens of heaven and “leaven” in the world around us.

    The Mass, which IS the HEART of our Faith is first and foremost the un bloody sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. It’s principal aim is atonement and propitiation. Preaching is really secondary to this. Any joy and “sense of community” we derive from this must be grounded in this most liberating principle of the perfect sacrifice. The rest of the Christian world highly disapproves of this reality… and it has been that way since Archbishop Cranmer attempted to meddle with the Mass. As Catholics, we will never regain the social vitality we once enjoyed historically until we ground ourselves deeply in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And perhaps we need to re-examine our understanding of freedom and liberty which must always be seen from the perspective of our Catholicity as depicted in the minor elevation during the Mass… and not from a conciliarism which seeks so often to “get along”. We have had very mixed results with the “why can’t everyone get along” approach. I’m not saying we ought to look for trouble… but I am saying that our music, theology, our liturgies (especially), our leadership should be indicative of a radicalism and vitality which is ascetical yet joyful, serious yet humble, orthodox and yet approachable. These are not words which are in opposition… they are in fact complimentary.

    Do we approach the Lord’s table free from mortal sin? Do we even hear sermons about this? As Catholics are we contracepting ourselves out of demographic relevance while marching toward the communion rail? What ever actually happened to the communion rail anyway? IS 45 minutes of confession for a parish of 1,000 families really going to fix everything? Do people look at the iconography of the Mass and then believe they need to get to confession? Do men find the liturgical music at Mass as a call to battle… or does it sound more like cocktail music or the jingle to a catchy toothpaste commercial? You see where I’m going with this!

    Today’s Catholicism is being strangled by a self imposed banality, a clericalist attitude which unwittingly protects that praxis, an effeminate Christianity which seems to be almost mule-like… in that it works very hard but can not multiply. There are young movements (young enough to not remember the last Council) that are mitigating against this… sometimes they are refereed to as the “young fogies” in the Church. But I think the “young fogies” are on to something. They have moved beyond the so called “Spirit of the Council” and may actually be in a position to implement an orthodox interpretation of the 16 documents therein. I certainly hope so for my kid’s sake. Because after attending the old rite in an approved venue for the last 3 years… my teenagers find the normative rite to be “sterile, girlish and somewhat silly” (their words, not mine).

    We have a great deal to think about and pray over for the next year.

  5. RichardC says:

    Amen. God bless you Cardinal Dolan and God bless America.

  6. George C. Dinsmore says:

    As a Veteran, I relish this day every year at this time, not just as a
    Veteran, but as an AMERICAN, I don’t know what would happen, should we lose this GOD GIVEN DAY, I pray that this country of Rel-igious Belief and FREEDOM< will remain as such, but only Our Heavenly Father Knows the True Outcome of this. GOD Bless You,
    Cardinal DOLAN for walking the talk. I trully Appreciate what this
    Catholic Community has done to Promot Religious Freedom.

  7. Nate Easley says:

    Here we have a perfect example of how disconnected the Catholic Church is to what life is truly like in the United States of America–and how closely allied the Church has become to a radical right-wing facist agenda in America and how far it has strayed from the true teachings of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is in Christ’s name that I must protest the assertion that we in America enjoy unlimited “peace, prosperity, and freedom.” That is so far from the reality of tens of millions in this country. How can a church that considers itself to be the “true Church” be so blind to the fact that the great majority of citizens in our land suffer “war, violence, hunger, persecution, sickness, poverty, and oppression” as do those in other countries that Mr. Dolan admits praying for so regularly and so piously? As I write this, approximately 50% of US citizens are without healthcare coverage and access to adequate health care. Yet the right wing, all with the full support of the Catholic Church in America, strives to continue denying health care to those individuals. The Church’s opposition to birth control apparently allows Catholics to condemn our current President of the United States, comparing him to Hitler and Stalin, and to fight along with the right-wing republicans to deny health care to those who need it most desperately. How odd that I’ve never heard the Catholic Bishops speak out against the George W. Bush administration for lying about the existence of WMDs in Iraq in order to wage an unnecessary, immoral, and protracted invasion of that country, thereby, contributing to the deaths of tens of thousands of American service personnel, millions of Iraqis, and the wounding and maiming of tens of thousands of other Americans serving in our military. Heaven forbid that the Catholic Bishops should speak out against the Bush fiscal policies of taking from the poor to give to the rich that plunged the USA into the greatest budgetary deficit in our history and creating an environment in which tens of millions of Americans are subjected to war, violence, hunger, persecution, sickness, poverty, and oppression. Far be it from the Catholic Bishops to condemn a philosophy of government that requires the burden of waging two simultaneous and immoral decade-long wars to be borne by only one percent of American families, and forced thousands of American service personnel to serve, 2, 3, 4, or 5 combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq while the remaining 99% were encouraged to remain oblivious to the sacrifices of those families. Why is it that the Catholic Bishops do not speak out as forcifully against the Ryan budget that the republican candidate for president so greatly admires–a program that will not only keep our current poor struggling, but will cast millions of other Americans below the poverty level, in effect, bringing about a form of genocide upon our nation’s most needy? Let’s be honest here: you’re knowingly and deliberately lying when you tell your parishoners and when you appear as a guest on the O’Reilly show and say that President Obama is waging a war against the Catholic Church and denying Catholics their right to religious freedom. You know that is not true. But you are so pre-occupied by ALMOST having to provide insurance coverage for a few women’s birth control prescriptions that you felt justifed in lying and allying yourself to what is fast becoming the most oppressive regime in American government: this radical, tea-party right that respects nothing and has embarked upon a scorched-earth policy in which they will say anything, do anything, and harm anyone to achieve their wholly selfish political gains. If you wanted to take a moral stand on something, why didn’t you speak out against the Bush administration when they instituted a policy of torture? When they one-by-one stripped away the civil rights of most Americans? When they cut budgets, creating widespread poverty, while lowering taxes for the wealthiest people in this country? Why do you never speak out when the republican right wing increases subsidies to major oil companies while ripping out the guts of any legislation designed to save the environment? Where are your panicked screechings when the right wing cuts funding for education, for welfare, for medicaid, for veterans benefits? And when are you going to realize that your bosom buddy right wing fanatics don’t give a damn about the Catholic Church or freedom of religion? If you’re not a right-wing conservative evangelical or a greedy robber barron, your existence is meaningless to the right-wing once they’ve used you to achieve their goals–an
    America of “peace, prosperity, and freedom” for the select and wealthy few and “war, violence, hunger, persecution, sickness, poverty, and oppression” for the rest of us.

  8. Tony Paskitti says:

    Cardinal,

    Although I am not a Catholic, I am one of your greatest fans. I appreciate you going on record of what the Bible says about life and marriage. Our country needs more men like you speaking out on these important subjects of today. I am committed to pray for your safety and boldness. The truth of what Jesus spoke 2000+ years ago needs to be repeated in the public square. No one is forced to believe but everyone is entitled to the truth. “I am the way, the truth and the life” says Jesus “No one comes to the Father but by me”

    God bless you sir!

  9. Frank Tomi says:

    Cuomo tells us why he should be excommunicated

    I think Governor Cuomo was trying to tell us something when he remarked on the resignation of a town clerk who said she could not “marry” homosexual couples.
    “The law is the law. When you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose which laws,” said Cuomo, who previously served as state attorney general.

    “You don’t get to say, ‘I like this law and I’ll enforce this law, or I don’t like this law and I won’t enforce this law’ — you can’t do that,” Cuomo added, according to our intern, Alex Katz, who was on the scene for Cuomo’s presser. “So if you can’t enforce the law, then you shouldn’t be in that position.”
    Right you are, Governor! The law is the law! And you don’t get to pick and choose which laws you are going to obey! Otherwise, get out of town!

    That’s the way it works in any government or any business or any other large organization. There are rules. There are procedures. And if you can’t respect the rules then you just don’t belong!

    This is the classic case of seeing the speck in the eye of the other, and not seeing the log in your own eye!

    Or maybe, Governor Cuomo is actually directing his comments to Archbishop Dolan??? Did Cuomo really mean to say…
    “Canon law is canon law. When you enforce the laws of the Church, you don’t get to pick and choose which laws,” said Cuomo, who secretly wishes he was a canon lawyer like Edward Peters.

    “You don’t get to say, ‘I like this canon law and I’ll enforce this canon law, or I don’t like this canon law and I won’t enforce this canon law’ — you can’t do that,” Cuomo added, in a fantasy dream of Ed Peters’ son, Thomas Peters, who is also known as the American Papist. “So if you can’t enforce canon law, then you shouldn’t be in that position.”

  10. Xabier says:

    Well, unfortunately this time I am not agree at all with Fr. Dolan.

    Very frecuently, “God bless America” is a phrase leaders use to defend and promote some ideals that are not according to the spirit of the Gospel. By doing this, “God’s” name is kidnapped and manipulated in the name of freedom. You confuse “America” with the USA, which is not true. America is a continent, not only USA. By saying “America” you promote the regionalism and the syndrome of ” chosen people” that Jesus refuses as a sign of exclusive blessing of God. In fact, God bless all of us, not only America or americans, nor in the sense of USA citizens or continental people.

    USA government has to recognizes that sometimes, in the past and now, its decisions has brougth slavery, war, hungry, undevelopment, to many people around the world in the name of freedom they say to defend and promote. This double moral can’t be accepted because is contrary to the gospel of Jesus.

    By saying “God” wants this or that, is an easy way to justify clericalism, authoritarism and a kind of moral, ideological and dogmatic dependence that has nothing to do with the Gospel. In fact, Jesus brought us freedom from all kind of domination, mainly religious domination, as is proved if we read carefull the Gospels. God wants us to be gods ( as Paul says) bringing life and love to all of those around us. This means we can not accept by any means that a church or organization manipulate or control what is called God’s will. There is not an official interpreter of God’s will because God reveals himself in the conscience of any man who wants tombring life, hope and good to the world.

    USA has the moral duty to bring liberty for all not by doing war but by promoting more human ways of life without collateral damage for no one. If they do so, they can celebrate his independence from any kind of domination, against life and love, against selfishness and false pride. In this way USA will be free of the eternal temptation of dominate to others in the name of God, freedom and liberty.