As Americans across the country celebrate the nation's Independence Day this weekend, they should humbly remember their dependence on their Creator, said Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.
In a column written this week, he reflected on the celebration of Independence Day and called on the faithful to proclaim a “spiritual Declaration of Dependence” on God that is “downright revolutionary” in American society today.
The archbishop then spoke of the false contemporary understanding of freedom “as the right to do whatever we want, whenever we want, wherever we want, however we want, with whomever we want.” Our culture has lost the true understanding of freedom as “the liberty to do what we ought,” he said.
He observed the modern trend of “freeing” oneself from “any sense of obedience to God, His revelation and the basic code of right and wrong He has engraved upon the human heart.”
This false understanding of freedom has devastating consequences, he continued. “The Ten Commandments become a list of suggestions, the Eight Beatitudes a set of nice ideas, the Bible mere literature, the Church unnecessary, religion a crutch for the unenlightened, objective truth an outmoded oppression.”
By adopting this distorted mindset, we elevate ourselves to the level of gods, the archbishop said. This is evident in today's culture, which claims dominion over life in matters such as abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, he explained. Focused on consumption and convenience, the culture presumes to re-define marriage and family as it sees fit, revels in violence in its movies and music and resorts to war and terrorism without regard to the demands of morality.
This phenomenon is “curious,”Archbishop Dolan said, because the very culture declaring itself independent of God and morality has become “terribly dependent” on “money, insurance, gas, weapons, security systems or even upon alcohol, pornography, lust, gambling and drugs.”
The archbishop contrasted this false sense of freedom with the true independence that the founders of America fought so adamantly to gain.
“The patriots who won independence for us in 1776 had no trouble at all acknowledging their total dependence upon God,” he said. “In fact, the normative documents of our beloved country presume the existence of a providential God, objective truth, moral duty and the right to life itself.”
This acknowledgment of total dependence on God is something we must preserve, he said. We must boldly admit to the world “that every breath we take, each day we have, every opportunity we are given, come from an omnipotent God.”
Offering a courageous witness to a hostile culture, we should “bask in the fact that we are totally dependent upon Him,” the archbishop said. “He is sovereign, He is Lord, He has power and dominion.”
Emphasizing Christ's teaching that “the Truth shall make you free,” Archbishop Dolan invited the faithful to take seriously the words they pray at every Sunday Mass: “We believe in God, the Father Almighty...” Recalling a comment from Cardinal Francis George, he explained that this opening line of the creed is “perhaps the most revolutionary statement we can make these days.”