Should we go to Mass on the 4th of July?
As we observe Independence Day, let us pray that our country, so rich in God’s material blessings, will contribute generously to the wholeness, the all-embracing peace, of the whole world
Q. July 4 is our most important civil holiday, but I think we would do well to mark our Independence Day by going to Mass before going on a picnic or going water-skiing. Do you agree?
A. Yes! Participating in the Eucharist on Independence Day is an excellent way to let freedom, God’s holy freedom, ring in our hearts.
Really every Eucharist is a celebration of independence, because it celebrates God’s delivering us from slavery to sin and death through the resurrection of the beloved Son, Jesus Christ. And every Eucharist commits us to help establish the reign of God in our country and in every country, a reign of freedom, justice and peace.
As one of the prefaces to the Eucharistic Prayer for Independence Day declares, Jesus’ “message lives on in our midst as our task for today and a promise for tomorrow.”
We desire our country to be “one nation under God” — not over God, or against God. For usChristians, every day is “independence day” if we find, in the Eucharist and in our prayer, the strength to live our daily lives in the power of Christ’s liberating work for our salvation. How else can our country be a light to the nations and a place of hope, a place where all that is good and right and true will find a home?
In this we are one with the people of the Old Testament. The history of the ancient Israelites shows that they were intensely concerned with material prosperity and political prominence.
Although they were called to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, they devoted lots of time and resources to fighting and trading, marrying and rearing children, planting and building, pursuing immediate goals and the normal business of living.
The founding fathers and mothers of our country were also concerned with such things. But when the Israelites saw things clearly, they acknowledged God to be the source of their greatest blessing: peace.
The biblical idea of “shalom” — peace — is completeness, fullness, unity, wholeness. This is similar to the Russian idea of “mir”: something whole or complete like the world itself. As we observe Independence Day, let us pray that our country, so rich in God’s material blessings, will contribute generously to the wholeness, the all-embracing peace, of the whole world.
So I offer these intercessions:
On this Independence Day, let us ask to know the saving power of Jesus Christ in answer to these prayers.
That the Lord Jesus will be the strength of all who lead the churches in our country, let us pray to the Lord:
That the Lord Jesus will be the stronghold of all who serve and defend us, let us pray to the Lord:
That the Lord Jesus will be the protection of all who suffer from hunger, disease and homelessness, let us pray to the Lord:
That the Lord Jesus will be the Savior for us in every difficulty, let us pray to the Lord:
That the Lord Jesus will be the joy of all who have died, let us pray to the Lord:
God rich in mercy, we ask you to answer these prayers that spring from our faith in you and love for you. Renew within the people of this nation the love that Jesus Christ showed to all in need.
We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Happy Fourth of July!