July 4: Independence Day

July 4 gives Americans reason to celebrate. Gratitude for the gift of freedom will be marked with cookouts and family time, parades and parties. In the midst of this day on which we give thanks for our many blessings let us take time to reflect and pray; let us be renewed to continue the good work that was begun when America became an independent nation in 1776.

When the United States was young, its ideals high, its goals so blazing and brilliant in a world whose ideas had grown old and sclerotic, no effort to achieve them was too much, no failure fatal. Now freedom has new meaning around the world. Now it means the freedom to earn a just wage from Western industry; the freedom to live without fear of nuclear extermination; the freedom to pursue internal needs as well as international debt relief programs. The question today is: Will we exert the same effort for those who look to us now for these same qualities? Will we complete the good work we’ve done or have we lost our own ideals as we grow?
─From A Monastery Almanac by Joan Chittister, OSB




[Ed Hays A Pilgrim’s Almanac:Reflections for Each Day of the Year, p. 11]

We lift up our hearts, O God, on this day of celebration
in gratitude for the gift of being Americans.
We rejoice with all those who share
in the great dream of freedom and dignity for all.
With flags and feasting, with family and friends,
we salute those who have sacrificed
that we might have the opportunity
to bring to fulfillment our many God-given gifts.
As we deny all prejudice a place in our hearts,
may we also clearly declare our intention to work
for the time when all people, regardless of race, religion or sex,
will be granted equal dignity and worth.
Come, O gracious God,
who led your children Israel from slavery,
keep us free from all that might hold us in bondage.
Bless our country and join our simple celebration
that we may praise you, our Source of freedom,
the One in whom we place our trust.