This homily was given at St Timothy's Catholic Church in Maple Lake, Minnesota at Holy Mass on the 4th of July , 2012, when Americans celebrate Independence Day.
On the 4th of July Americans celebrate the gift of freedom which we believe is a gift from God, a gift which many Americans have died to protect. Many countries around the world like to speak of rights and freedoms, but perhaps only in the USA is it truly, in actual fact, a land of opportunity. I have lived all over the world and the more I travel the more I realize the Untied States of America must be a gift from God where anyone can come and seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a singularly unique way. Freedom cannot but be a gift by which we are endowed by our Creator.
We therefore owe the Lord Jesus Christ our gratitude, who died on the cross that we might be set free from sin. The most holy Eucharist is not only a sacrifice of expiation but one of gratitude, and how appropriate we should thank God for our country through the sacred liturgy.
We should be grateful to all our troops who have served and some have even given the very high cost of their lives, dying to protect our freedom. Minnesota and Maple Lake itself has an excellent legacy of veterans in wars.
The First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first in the nation to answer President Abraham Lincoln's call for troops in 1861, and they courageously served with great distinction. The 262 men of the First Minnesota played a heroic but tragic role at the Battle of Gettysburg. 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Over 2500 Minnesotans died answering President Lincoln's call to end slavery. Slavery was the key issue of the day. Looking back, perhaps those who lived at the time might not have understood that it was worth fighting and dying to end such an evil. Slavery might have appeared to them to be "just another political issue" but we can say for sure that it was THE issue, aside from which a person could not be said to be fighting for freedom unless he was working to end this abomination.
Here are a total number of Minnesotans who died in wars:
*For these wars I couldn’t find a number only for Minnesotans, but I had to average out the number of states in the conflict with the total losses of those who died in combat.
As we can see from these numbers, more Minnesotans have died in the year of 2011 in the sanctuary of their mother's womb's than the total number of Minnesotans who have been killed in combat, and as we have not mentioned the number of those wounded in wars, the number that abortion wounds is also much greater, for a mother, a father, and those who have been deprived of a loved one.
How can we possibly say that we honor the memory of those who have died to protect our freedoms if we do not mention those who have died because of our "freedom" gone awry? Do we believe as the Declaration of Independence says, which was published 236 years ago today,
"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."
LIFE! What has happened to the right to Life? Let us not say that we celebrate freedom if we do not hold the self-evident truth, that all men are created equal, when unborn persons in this country are, like the slaves in civil war era, not considered yet to be citizens and therefore considered not worthy of all the rights and protections which we hold so dear, most especially the unalienable right to life which is endowed by our Creator!
No woman ought to be free to kill her baby and wound herself so deeply by abortion. No woman - even in cases of rape, cases which many pro-aborts would claim is an exception. Most of these people have never talked to rape victims and do not know them, what is on their heart and what they suffer. After working in women's shelters on different continents, I know from experience what happens when a woman adds to the trauma of rape the horror of taking her own child's life. One Minnesotan woman said that the child she aborted is the first thing she thinks of when she wakes up and the last thing that she thinks of when she sleeps, and that she has long since forgotten being raped because the psychological and emotional wounds from abortion are by far much deeper. Another Minnesotan woman told me that giving birth to the child that was conceived by rape was for her the most beautiful experience of her life. She even said she wanted to name the child "Sky" because she felt she could almost see the sky open up when she was being born! She was so happy to give this child life and then gave the child up for adoption to a couple who couldn't conceive on their own.
If we are truly to celebrate this day we must celebrate authentic freedom, freedom that Jesus Christ gave us on the Cross by freeing us from sin. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want, for this is license that leads to licentiousness, permissiveness, and all sorts of evils. Freedom is the ability to choose the good so that you are free to love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself. We must recognize, like those in the era when slavery was still decriminalized, that THE issue of our day, the political and moral issue that must hold pride of place is the end to Abortion and the to its decriminalization in legislation. Killing in the name of Freedom is the deepest wound on our capacity to be truly free. We must recognize our responsibility to let freedom ring in our legislatures and courts by enacting laws that will not attack but defend our capacity to do good.
Allow me to close with the momentous words of a great American, Martin Luther King, Jr.
"And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, [let us add here born and unborn] will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"