Message from Father William Bartoul
My dear Brother Knights,
This month we celebrate the 4th of July; the birthday of our nation. Happy Birthday USA! You know, historically speaking, the 4th of July is more than just a government holiday meant to promote love of country. It’s certainly that, but it’s not just Americans who have cause to celebrate. The date (4th of July) commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which, with the Constitution that was built upon it, did not just create a new political order in America. These documents and our acting upon them inspired a worldwide movement for liberty and human rights. In fact, the French Revolution was a direct result of the French people seeing Americans gaining their freedom. For many other peoples, the United States has been a light, a beacon, a sign of hope for their struggles against tyranny and injustices. Our Declaration and our Constitution have been the models for other nations’ documents of Declarations and Constitutions.
It’s important to remember that America’s freedom as not primarily linked to an economic freedom or even a freedom from morality. Rather, American freedom has always been tied to morality and religion. From the dawn of our democratic republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the certainty that the principles governing our political and social life are very much based on the command of God the Creator. The writers of our founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with “inalienable rights” grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Americans are a people of great faith and virtue.
This means that we believe in a set of values revealed by God that guide us in our understandings, our perceptions, our choices and decisions. Most especially in this set of values is the dignity of human life. Thoughtful that human life has high value is fundamental to all our laws and religious expressions. Regardless of a person’s stage of development, country of origin, gender, creed, or condition in life, every human being is a human being and therefore has a dignity as given by God at their creation. It’s not just the healthy, wealthy, or educated persons who are of value in this world. Every human being is valuable. And, along with “human dignity,” another high value is “human freedom.”
Freedom is not only a gift, but also a mighty call to personal responsibility. The preservation of freedom requires us to nurture and promote good qualities, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good, and to develop a sense of responsibility towards those who are less fortunate. Freedom has been given to us as a gift to enjoy, to safeguard, and to hand-on to the next generation. If we are unwilling to cultivate our good qualities, unwilling to reject childish ways, unwilling to make sacrifices or reach out to the needy, then we will not be able to hand-on to our children a country that is safe, strong, and free. We will have damaged the gift given to us. And so, morality and religion remain basic truths in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution of the United States.
My dear Brother Knights, this month we celebrate our nation’s birthday. Happy Birthday United States! It’s the spirit of America that inspires the world. It’s a spirit of faith, hope, and charity. There is nothing grander on this planet than to be human and to be free. God bless America. God bless you.
Your flag waving veteran, Fr. Bill