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For Country and Christ

Saint Thomas Aquinas:
“Man becomes a debtor to other men in various ways…man is debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God. Wherefore, just as it belongs to religion to give worship to God, so does it belong to piety, in the second place, to give worship to one’s parents and one’s country…The worship given to our country includes homage to all our fellow citizens and all the friends of our country.” [Summa Theologica II-II Q. 101 Art 2]


In this quote, St. Thomas Aquinas emphasizes the importance of recognizing one's debts to others and their effect on us after that of God (of course). He highlights the connection between worshiping God and showing reverence to those who have contributed to one's well-being and prosperity. The concept of "piety" is central to Aquinas' thought, as it involves not only worshiping God but also showing gratitude and respect to those institutions that have played a significant role in one's life, mainly our parents and nation. In the context of Independence Day, this quote can be seen as relevant to the idea that Americans have a debt to their country, which has provided them with the freedom and opportunity to worship God as they see fit.


Viewed in this light, the celebration of Independence Day is not just a patriotic duty but also an act of piety. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, righteousness is not just about worshiping God but also about showing reverence and gratitude to those who have contributed to our well-being. Our country has granted us the freedom to worship God as we see fit, and it is our duty to ourselves and our fellow citizens to acknowledge and honor this gift. The sacrifice of our military troops is a crucial aspect of this debt. Without their bravery and selflessness, we would not have the freedom to gather together and celebrate our independence. Their service is a testament to the values of courage, honor, and sacrifice that are essential to our nation's identity, no matter how we pray. As Americans unite to commemorate Independence Day, our focus often gravitates toward the fireworks, parades, and patriotic music, yet amidst the festivities, it is crucial to grasp the profound significance of this holiday.


Some claim celebrating Independence Day is a whitewashing of our nation’s history. No society is perfect; however, we will never become better by ignoring our duty to the country in which we are raised. We must move forward together, remembering the past so we do not repeat it and striving to make our nation a better place for all. By recognizing our debt to our country and its defenders, we are not only reminded of the importance of living virtuously but also inspired to contribute positively to society. This also means holding our elected leaders accountable for the mistakes of history.


Samuel Adams, recognized as the father of the American Revolution, fearlessly expressed his religious beliefs. For him, affixing his signature to the Declaration of Independence signified not just breaking away from Great Britain but allowing the nation the freedom to seek God’s will collectively as well as individually. Consequently, in his mind, America would be liberated from human control and able to devote itself to Christ—if fairy tale endings were indeed a real thing.

As Christians, it is crucial to be mindful of our responsibilities. Our primary focus should be on serving Christ, and we are fortunate to have the freedom to do so in our country. Our greatest enemy is not some foreign nation that seeks to destroy us. It is the enemy that uses distractions to divert our attention from fulfilling our Christian duties. We could blame it on the devil, but there is also plenty of human blame to go around. Mindlessly getting caught up in Fourth of July festivities can lead us to overlook the holiday's true significance.

How should we celebrate Independence Day?

American freedom is a gift from the divine and is defended by selfless individuals who are a part of something bigger than themselves. Due to our liberty, we can express our religious beliefs and fearlessly share them with others. It's important to acknowledge that this is not the case in many other parts of the world. The sacrifice for following Christ is much higher for our fellow believers elsewhere. It's essential to take a moment to reflect on the ways in which we have been blessed in our lives and to make a commitment to not take our freedom for granted. While we gather with loved ones, let's take the time to honor the gift of freedom that we have received.


The implications of celebrating Independence Day as an act of reverence are multifaceted. The celebration of Independence Day is not solely a patriotic duty but also an act of piety. The concept of "piety," as emphasized by Saint Thomas Aquinas, involves not only worshiping God but also showing gratitude and respect to those institutions that have played a significant role in one's life. Moreover, celebrating Independence Day serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by military troops and the values of courage, honor, and sacrifice that are essential to our nation's identity. It also presents an opportunity to reflect on the blessings and freedoms we have been granted and to renew our commitment to upholding these values.


Additionally, it allows us to recognize the gift of freedom and the responsibility that comes with it, inspiring us to contribute positively to society and hold our elected leaders accountable. Therefore, celebrating Independence Day is in itself an act of reverence that encompasses expressions of gratitude, acknowledgment of sacrifices, and a commitment to preserving the values that have made America great. When we come together to celebrate, let's remember that our freedom is not just a privilege but also a responsibility. May we strive to uphold the values that have made America great and honor those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom while we thank God for all we have been blessed with because of where we live.

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