Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Prayers for the Country

Happy Independence Day to all the U.S. readers of this blog. Had a good evening with the Capuchins who live at St. Joseph Friary in Hays. We had a spaghetti dinner, which was, to me, a nice change of pace from the usual Fourth of July fare of hamburgers and hot dogs! I hope you are enjoying good company this evening among your family, friends, and brothers and sisters in spirit. If you are reading this from Kansas or some similarly parched part of the country, please be careful with fireworks, and observe the burn ban in your area!

One of my prayers for this nation is that we will stop pouring so much of our wealth into armaments and all the tools and weapons of war. I pray our people will stop preparing young men and women to mindlessly defend the "interests" of the nation through force of arms.

I pray that we may achieve peace among our own and with all nations through nonviolent means. From the top down and from the bottom up, let us build peace and cease to do harm to creation, to our communities, and to our kin. If the United States as a country is worth living for and dying for, then let us advance this country through the force of compassion and the strength of our virtues.

If we are to have democracy, let us have it thoroughly, in the economy and society as well as in the affairs of state.

Let us pursue our interests by looking first to our neighbors' needs. I pray that citizens -- especially fellow Catholics -- will think twice before concluding that what is good for the United States is the same as the common good. When the two are in conflict, and often they are, we must decide who we will follow, Caesar or Christ.

We ask God to bless America, but even God is powerless to bless that which refuses to be blessed. God will not bless our cruel and inhumane treatment of undocumented immigrants. God will not bless us for punishing incarcerated persons far beyond proportion to their crimes. God does not bless so-called retributive justice. God does not bless our violence against women, children, seniors, and the mentally ill. God does not bless our prejudice against minorities, the poor, and the working class. When we ask God to bless America, let us also ask how we may make America a blessing, a light to the nations.

As Catholics in the United States, let us give thanks for the blessings of freedom and justice that have increased over centuries of struggle in this land. Let us resist the temptation to end our pilgrimage and build cities of empire, and repent whenever we do fall into sin and idolatry. Then let us renew daily, in faith, our witness to the definitive liberation of humanity inaugurated by God in the Exodus and fulfilled by Christ on Calvary.

So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.

Ephesians 2:19

Postscript: I am thankful today for my brothers' encouragement, kind affirmations, and conversations in the wake of the Walmart prayer action. It has generated a good multi-logue with the postulant brothers, especially among those who have usually held mixed feelings about the propriety of using prayer as protest. Seeds are being planted everywhere.

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