There is so much uncertainty that surrounds us. Our economy seems to be going nowhere, unemployment continues to be high and our national deficit is rising. Many worry about their future and the future of their children. This seems to be a time when we must take stock of our situation and rebuild.
Many have said that we, as Americans, have veered off course. Instead of valuing our democratic freedoms and appreciating our heritage, we have become a nation of self-interest groups all lobbying for preferential treatment. We cannot go on in this manner. We must realize that if we commit to change, and change we must, the fix will not be easy.
When anyone attempts to build or rebuild, he or she must check the foundation. I don’t claim to be a prophet, but it is obvious we cannot survive as a people if we continue on a course of secularism and eliminate God from consideration in our daily lives. If we do not have a trust in God, our vision is limited and our foundation will not sustain us.
Many have questioned whether our Founding Fathers were men of faith or just merely pragmatic individuals seizing an opportunity to enhance their political position.
I constantly come across quotes that seem to support their confidence in God. In 1787, when members of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia failed to open their session with a prayer, Benjamin Franklin stated: “I have lived a long time, 81 years – and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth, that God governs the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured by Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.… I therefore beg leave to move that thenceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.”
Our confidence in God removes us from a selfish and self-centered outlook and requires us to see ourselves as part of God’s greater plan connected to our brothers and sisters.
We have tried to isolate God and religion from the public forum by appealing to our sense of fairness. Public officials argue that references to God or religion aren’t tolerant of diverse views. It appears the only intolerance is of any expression of a belief in God. I am not confident that the current political leaders will offer much change.
Blessed John Paul II was a true champion for the dignity of the human person, but as a society we have diminished our protection of human life. We are only as secure in our rights as is the most vulnerable in our society. Blessed John Paul II implored us to create a culture of life and to reject the culture of death. He challenged us to understand the evils of abortion, contraception, euthanasia and neglect of the poor. He reminded us that these evils can be rationalized, treating the human person as a commodity, a means to an end and ignoring the inherent dignity in each individual.
Since 1973 well over 50 million children have been aborted. Contraception has increased promiscuity, objectified women and devalued human sexuality. Euthanasia, under the guise of compassion, has been increasing as a means in order to end human life and remove the burden experienced by those caring for the sick and elderly. The percentages of the poor seem to be increasing while at the same time we decrease our governmental commitment to education and health care. Our political leaders do not voice a concern for human life.
Certainly fear about our economy dominates our attention, but the very strength of our resolve as a people is founded in our respect for life. It’s easy to point out the problems, but we must be part of the solution. It begins with our own knowledge about the teachings of the Gospel and the church. It’s embodied in our support for those who reflect the church’s vision. It is witnessed in our practice of the faith. To think that only 25 to 30 percent of those who claim to be Catholic actually attend Sunday Mass on a regular basis; imagine if that increased by just 10 percent.
We have much work to do in the area of evangelization. The Catholic Church’s involvement in the development of our country is remarkable. Where would we be without the schools, the hospitals and the parishes? It was the church that cared for the immigrants and stood with workers. We need to again assert our Catholic identity as we venture forth in this Third Millennium. As the conscience of a society that needs to respect the dignity of human life and unabashedly profess its dependency on God, the Catholic Church can be the force that gets us back on the right track.