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Audio Meditation of the Prelate: Easter Sunday

Transcript and audio recording in English of reflections by Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz on the meaning of Holy Week (fourth in a series of four).

Lumen Christi! The light of Christ! These are the words that the Church makes resound in our ears at the start of the Easter Vigil, which begins in the darkness of the night.

Lumen Christi! This is repeated three times, while the candles of those participating in the liturgical celebration are being lit. The light of Christ opens up a path through the darkness of sin and death. Jesus has risen! This is the joyful message that we will soon receive once again.

Over the past days we have been meditating on Jesus’ total self-giving for us, from the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper to his death on the Cross.

Now we see that the darkness of Calvary is not the final word. The holy women, who had the strength to accompany our Lord in his Passion, lead the way towards the light of the Resurrection. Jesus rewards the love that moved them to want to embalm his Body, and makes them the first bearers of the joy of Easter.

The news of the Resurrection offers us, like the holy women, new light for our lives during this time, which is so painful for all humanity. Saint Paul reminds the Romans that we Christians are united to our Lord’s death “so that, just as Christ was raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).

Easter announces to us that we are not tied down by our past sins, by the weight of our previous mistakes. Nor are we tied down by the limitations we can see in our lives, or by situations, however difficult, like those of the present time. And so the Apostle repeats again: “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:11).

As we commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus, we want to respond to this invitation of our Lord to “walk in newness of life.”

But what newness are we talking about? The rhythm of our lives is marked by the same things repeated over and over again: the same work, the same places, the same people. Perhaps we have noticed this even more clearly at this time, if we have been obliged to remain at home because of the pandemic.

What is the sense of newness that Easter brings? It is the light of faith that illumines our lives, and that is enlivened by charity and sustained by hope.

As Saint Josemaria said: “This certainty which the faith gives enables us to look at everything in a new light. And everything, while remaining exactly the same becomes different, because it is an expression of God’s love.”[1]

Yes, by faith we know that Jesus is walking at our side in our daily life, revealing to us its true meaning and value. Faith leads us to find Jesus waiting for us, perhaps in a request by someone in our family, or in a favor we can do for a neighbor, or in a call to someone who is feeling lonely…

Through faith we know that work done for love is always valuable, because it becomes an offering to our Father, God. Perhaps right now we realize that so many things are beyond our control, and that we cannot rely on our own strength alone to achieve our goals. Perhaps a temptation to discouragement is beginning to creep in.

Remembering that the Risen Jesus is at our side will help us as we are struggling to work in trying circumstances, thinking of our family and the whole world. If we are working with Christ, all our efforts are meaningful, even when we do not achieve the results we were hoping for, because the echo of the deeds we do for love always reaches Heaven.

After announcing the news of Jesus’ Resurrection to the holy women, the angel adds: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you” (Mk 16:7). The disciples are to return to Galilee, to the place where everything began, to the land through which they had daily travelled with the Master during the years of his preaching.

The same call is addressed to us: to go back to our Galilee, to our daily life, but bringing to it the light and the joy of Easter.

Pope Francis reminded us of this a few years ago: “To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters.”[2] How much it helps us, in difficult moments, to remember the times when our Lord made his presence felt in our lives, and to renew our trust in Him.

Let us accept our Lord’s invitation. Let us often consider the meaning of the joy of Easter – a joy that is compatible with suffering. And let us receive the light He wants to give us and share it with those around us.

Like the holy women, let us announce joyfully the truth that Christ is alive. And may that conviction be reflected in our lives: in the serenity, the hope and the charity with which we want to imbue each of our days. To do so, let us turn to our Lady’s intercession. On the day of the Resurrection we see her radiant with joy at her Son’s return. That moment will also arrive for each of us, and by God’s power, if we are faithful, we will live forever in Christ Jesus.


[1] Christ is Passing By, no. 144.

[2] Pope Francis, Homily at the Easter Vigil, 19 April 2014.

Why the New Motu Proprio – “Traditionis Custodes?

Why the New “Motu Proprio” – “Traditionis Custodes:” So that we have one faith-consciousness powered by one kind of action: the Self-Gift of Christ that is the Holy Sacrificie of the Mass. Thus the Church as One and Universal.

   Pope Francis wants to bring the Living faith of the Church in line with the living Mind of the Holy Spirit as proclaimed in Vatican II’s “Sacrosanctum Concilium.” In short, John Paul II asked the rhetorical question in one of his five year [ad limina] visits with the bishops of Brazil: What was the meaning of the liturgy in Vatican II? He answered: An Action. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an Action

What is the Liturgy? An Action: The Action of Christ’s Self-gift to death on the Cross which is the meaning of Christian faith.

         “The primary function of all liturgy lies in this: `To lead us untiringly back to the Easter pilgrimage initiated by Christ, in which we accept death in order to enter into life” (Vicesimus Quintus Annus, 6. Origins, May 25, 1989, Vol. 19, No. 2). The sacrifice of the Mass is the Action of the “I” of Second Person of the Trinity exercising His Human Will in the supreme act of obedience whereby, having “been made sin” by the Father for love of us, He abandons Himself obediently to death on the Cross. Sin. being our disobedience, is thereby destroyed by the Person of the Son. The Mass is that act of obedience rendered liturgically-sacramentally on the altar. That liturgical act is the “authentic expression of the “I” – gift of the Son.This is the meaning of the Mass as expressed in Sacrosanctum Concilium of Vatican II

         “The liturgy is the authentic expression of the universal Church’s faith…” (faith as the moral act of the whole person making the gift of self in obedience to God’s Revelation of Himself).

John Paul II: 

“What did the renewal envisioned by Sacrosanctum Concilium bring to the Church? It brought her, above all, a new concept of liturgy. Previously, people had an idea of liturgy that regularly did not go beyond external aspects: ceremonies, rubrics and norms for properly carrying out liturgical actions.[1] While those aspects are also worthy of respect, the constitution told us that the liturgy is something more. In it we find the very action of Christ the Priest, in which he associates his very self with the Church. It is the action[2] of the Head and the members (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium n. 7). Thus, the liturgy becomes the privileged `place’ of meeting between Christians and God and with him whom God sent, Jesus Christ.

         “Throughout the entire Constitution, the leitmotif is participation. Liturgy is not assisting at an action that others carry out; it is celebrating something, or better, Someone. And in that celebration, all are and must be involved.

         “This new concept of liturgy brought many fruits to the life of the postconciliar Church. It led to a deeper theological consideration of Christian worship. It helped to overcome formalism and reduced the distance between clergy and people during the celebrations. This encouraged initiatives in favor of active and personal participation, freeing the Christian from the role of mere `spectator’ and leading the Christian forward towards unity with God and his brothers and sisters….

         “It is clear that the Mass is something more than a feast of fraternal unity. It is much more than a meal among friends or a free supper for the poor. Nor is it a time for `celebrating’ human dignity and purely earthly accomplishments and hopes. It is the Sacrifice that makes Christ really present in the Sacrament….

         “The primary function of all liturgy lies in this: `To lead us untiringly back to the Easter pilgrimage initiated by Christ, in which we accept death in order to enter into life” (Vicesimus Quintus Annus, 6. Origins, May 25, 1989, Vol. 19, No. 2).

         “The liturgy is the authentic expression of the universal Church’s faith…” (faith as the moral act of the whole person making the gift of self in obedience to God’s Revelation of Himself).

In my quick perusal of “Tradtionis Custodes,” I take the meaning of the Mass as the Action of Self Gift of Christ – and therefore as self-gift in all that we do –  as the point that he wants to accentuate. This the action of Christ on the Cross; this is the action of the whole Church, and Francis wants to unify the Church in its supreme and identifying act of self-giving.

The magisterium has developed to an experience and consciousenss of Christ as “I.” It is not subjectivism. It is ontological achievement and discoverable by the use of the phenomenology of experience (self-gift). St. Josemaria

escriva had that experience and that consciousness. And everyone else is able to experience it in work as an exercise of the Sacrifice of the Mass. The “I” of the last super, the “I” of Calvary, the “I” of every Mass everywhere for all time is the one, unique “I” of the Son of the Father. The “I” of daily work as the exercise of the Mass itself. And St. Josemaria experienced being that “I.” Remember: “It is Christ who renews his sacrifice of Calvary on the altar. I don’t ‘preside over’ anything. I am Christ at the altar!” (Pilar Urbano p. 151 English).  Note that Escriva experiences being Ipse Christus when celebrating Mass which is the very center of the work and family “day.”

The Mass is not another “act” performed during the day but the very meaning of the day, its center and meaning. The self-gift of work and family life will by dynamized by the self-gift and Heart of Christ celebrated and experienced on the altar. I believe Pope Francis is in search of this asceticism and experience for the whole Church. Hence, the Motu Proprio.


[1] Liturgy during the Renaissance Baroque and Romantic period of the 15th – 18th centuries in the West had become pure externalism. “for there was a time, – not so far from our own (1958), and not yet entirely past, – when it was taken for granted by many Catholics that the liturgy was sometimes to be performed, but that to understand it was, a t best, optional, never necessary or highly desirable, and, occasionally, considered even objectionable. That the liturgy was not anything in which the common people were to participate, of course went without saying…. Now it is from the sixteenth and seventeenth century idea of court life that Catholics of this kind derived their false notions of public worship. An earthly king must be honored daily by the pageant of court ceremonial, and so also the heavenly King. The courtly atmosphere around Him was to be provided by the liturgy. The liturgy, as many handbooks of the period actually say, was considered to be `the etiquette of the great King.’ … The lack of any intelligible meaning in so many rites and even in the sacred words themselves, was, therefore, praised as enhancing the impression of awe to be given to the dazzled multitude;” Louis Bouyer, Liturgical Piety, UNDP (1954) 3-4.

[2]Ecclesia de Eucharistia: 1) Mystery of Faith:

a) Not just Body and Blood of Christ, but the Action of Christ’s Self-Gift to the Father. The Eucharist is above all sacrifice: “which is given for you.” It is the sacrificial act of a divine Subject. We are not dealing here with sacred “Objects” of His Body and Blood, but of His very Subjectivity as “I.” “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM” (Jn. 8, 28). The act of that “I AM” is the gift of Himself to the Father – for us.

b) This takes place Now. Not in the past, but now. The only way to understand this: The divine “I” transcends[2] creation, but is now “transubstantiated” in it. Christ ascended as enfleshed Person and thrones at the right of God the Father, the Two spirating the Holy Spirit. That resurrected flesh (“Feel me and see; for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have”[Lk. 24, 39]) is the flesh of the Eucharist: “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (Jn. 6, 55).

c) The Eucharist is eternal life Now. “Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life: they already possess it on earth, as the first-fruits of a future fullness which will embrace man in his totality. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world: `He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day’ (Jn. 6, 54). This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection.

– With the Eucharist we digest, as it were, the `secret’ of the resurrection: self giving.

d) Therefore, we are responsible for the world now. Contrary to the intellectuals who insist that, being realists, we must not expect holiness in the world now deferring it to the eschaton,[2] the vision of John Paul II looks to the construction of a new culture and civilization of love grounded on the ontological reality of the human person as revealed in Jesus Christ. Consider Novo Millennio Ineunte, Chpt. III: Starting Afresh From Christ: “…So that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfillment in the heavenly Jerusalem” (#29). Chpt. IV: Witness to Love: “A Spirituality of Communion;” Before doing, let there be positive affirmation of others. Seeing others “as a gift for me” rather than obstacle and competition.

16TH Sunday (B) of Ordinary Time,

Mark 6, 30- 34).

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

* * * * * * * * * *

The source of apostolic desire and effectiveness is intimacy and friendship with Jesus which is heading toward identification with Him, such that it becomes true to say: “I live; no, not I. It is Christ who lives in me.” (Gal, 2, 20). I quote Cardinal Ratzinger in his “take” on St. Josemaria and this “new” understanding of holiness which is not what one does but who one becomes – Christ Hinself.

          “In this light one can understand even better what holiness means, as well as the universal calling to holiness. Knowing a little about the history of saints, and understanding that in the causes of canonization there is inquiry into “heroic” virtue, we almost inevitably have a mistaken concept of holiness: “It is not for me,” we are led to think, “because I do not feel capable of attaining heroic virtue. It is too high a goal.” Holiness then becomes a thing reserved for some “greats” whose images we see on the altars, and who are completely different from us ordinary sinners. But this is a mistaken notion of holiness, a wrong perception which has been corrected—and this seems to me the central point—precisely by Josemaría Escrivá.

Heroic virtue does not mean that the saint performs a type of “gymnastics” of holiness, something that normal people do not dare to do. It means rather that in the life of a person God’s presence is revealed—something man could not do by himself and through himself. Perhaps in the final analysis we are rather dealing with a question of terminology, because the adjective “heroic” has been badly interpreted. Heroic virtue properly speaking does not mean that one has done great things by oneself, but rather that in one’s life there appear realities which the person has not done himself, because he has been transparent and ready for the work of God. Or, in other words, to be a saint is nothing other than to speak with God as a friend speaks with a friend. This is holiness.

To be holy does not mean being superior to others; the saint can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life. Holiness is this profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy. And if, then, Josemaría Escrivá speaks of the calling of all to be saints, I think that he is actually referring to this personal experience of his of not having done incredible things by himself, but of having let God work. And thus was born a renewal, a force for good in the world, even if all the weaknesses of mankind will remain ever present. “ (Homily on October 6, 20020

No real rebuttal to Dr. Peter McCullough

I just perused a series of rebuttals to the position of Dr. Peter McCullough. I did not read carefully for specifics, but got the impression that they were making a defense of the need for the vaccine whereas McCullough’s main thrust was where were you guys when a person was informed that he had covid and there was no leadership on treatment that was possible and effective prior to any vaccine? Where were the doctors, the hotlines, the immediate protocalls for pre-vaccination… There were all kinds of semieffectivce drugs out there. But the voice of the media was: there’s nothing to do until the/a vaccine is developed. His point was that they languished at home with no guidlines until they got real sick, were sent to the hospital to die. I saw no explanation for the information shut down rebutting this.

Contrast this presentation (below) by Dr. Peter McCullough with Today’s (July 4, 2021) New York Times Editorial (next post)

Dr. Peter McCullough

Dr. Peter McCullough discusses the dangers of the novel COVID vaccine and it’s roll out. This is a product that had minimal testing but is being pushed on the masses. Must we all get the shot for things to “go back to normal”? Are you going to get the shot?

*Fleccas is not giving any medical advice here 😉

Dr. Peter McCullough has been the world’s most prominent and vocal advocate for early outpatient treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Infection in order to prevent hospitalization and death. On May 19, 2021, he was interviewed regarding his efforts as a treating physician and researcher. From his unique vantage point, he has observed and documented a PROFOUNDLY DISTURBING POLICY RESPONSE to the pandemic — a policy response that may prove to be the greatest malpractice and malfeasance in the history of medicine and public health.

Dr. McCullough is an internist, cardiologist, epidemiologist, and Professor of Medicine at Texas A & M College of Medicine, Dallas, TX USA. Since the outset of the pandemic, Dr. McCullough has been a leader in the medical response to the COVID-19 disaster and has published “Pathophysiological Basis and Rationale for Early Outpatient Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Infection” the first synthesis of sequenced multidrug treatment of ambulatory patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the American Journal of Medicine and subsequently updated in Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine. He has 40 peer-reviewed publications on the infection and has commented extensively on the medical response to the COVID-19 crisis in TheHill and on FOX NEWS Channel. On November 19, 2020, Dr. McCullough testified in the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and throughout 2021 in the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, Colorado General Assembly, and New Hampshire Senate concerning many aspects of the pandemic response.
Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH, FACP, FACC, FAHA, FCRSA, FCCP, FNKF, FNLA

Professor of Medicine, Texas A & M College of Medicine
Board Certified Internist and Cardiologist
President Cardiorenal Society of America
Editor-in-Chief, Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine
Editor-in-Chief, Cardiorenal Medicine
Senior Associate Editor, American Journal of Cardiology
For more information about Dr. McCullough, please visit: heartplace.com/dr-peter-a-mccullough

The Exaltation of the Human Person as Meaning of the American Revolution

Chesterton wrote: “The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence: perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are created equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that heir authority if for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived… The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.” (Chesterton,  “What is America?” in  What I saw in America 41).

The American Creed:

“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. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. …………….

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

JOHN HANCOCK, President —- Names of Signers

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gordon s. Wood “the Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787:” An Experiment in Christian Personalism

     [The transition from  individual living unto self to person out of self, and the consciousness accruing to that – a likeness to God]

Gordon s. Wood “the Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787:” An Experiment in Christian Personalism

       “The American Revolution was not a common event,” John Adams wrote to the newspaper editor Hezekiah Niles in 1818. “Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe.” Adams then inquired: “But what do we mean by the American Revolution?” For Adams, the revolution was not just the Revolutionary War. The war had accelerated the revolution, to be sure, and the
break with Britain enabled it to develop more freely. But the revolution itself
involved a change in thought—new ideas about who “the people” were, how they
interacted with each other and how they related to their government. “This
radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the
people,” Adams claimed, “was the real American Revolution.”

How did that radical change occur? By what means had the people of thirteen separate colonies come together “in the same principles in theory and the same system of action”? …

The most obvious change involved the elimination of monarchy and the establishment of a republic, which turned dependent subjects into independent citizens.

May I (blogger) add: They emerged from being rational individuals (animals) to
self-transcending persons as God is Person, and this because of seeking the
freedom to worship God as He was calling them to, and pursuing a life of work
and prayer for 150 years on this land. It was this inner experience of
self-transcendence in the immanence of the created world that drove
them.

                Gordon Wood wrote: “The American Revolution has always seemed to be an extraordinary kind of revolution, and no more so than to the Revolutionaries themselves… Because it did not seem to have  been a usual revolution, the sources of its force and it momentum appeared strangely unaccountable. ‘In other revolutions, the sword has been drawn by the arm of offended freedom, under an oppression that threatened the vital powers of society.’ But this seemed hardly true of the American Revolution. There was none of the legendary tyranny of history that had so often driven desperate people into rebellion. The Americans were not an oppressed people; they had no crushing imperial shackles to throw off. In fact, the Americans knew they were probably freer ande less burdened with the cumbersome feudal and hierarchical restraints than any part of mankind in the eighteenth century. To its victims, the Tories, the Revolution was truly incomprehensible. Never in history, said Daniel Leonard, had t here been so much rebellion with so ‘little real cause.’ It was, wrote Peter Oliver, ‘the most wanton and unnatural rebellion that ever existed.’  The Americans’ response was out of all proportion to the stimuli…As early as 1775 Edmund Burke had noted in the House of Commons that the colonists’ intensive study of law and politics had made them acutely inquisitive and sensitive about their liberties. Where the people of other countries had invoked principles only after they had endured ‘an actual grievance,’ the Americans, said Burke, were anticipating their grievances and resorting to principles even before they actually suffered. ‘They augur misgovernment at a distance and snuff the approach of tyranny in very tainted breeze.’ The crucial question in the colonists’ minds, wrote John Dickinson in 1768, was ‘not, what evil has actually attended particular measures – but, what evil, in the nature of things, is likely to attend them.’ Because ‘nations , in general, are not apt to think until they feel… therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.’ But not the Americans, as the Abbe Ranal observed. They were an ‘enlightened people’ who knew their rights and the limits of power and who, unlike any people before them, aimed to think before they felt.” (Edmund Burke: “Speech on Moving His Resolution for Conciliation with the Colonies,’ Mar. 22, 1775.

The American Revolution was the emergence of the Christian man as a self-determining freedom in accordance with his being the image and likeness of God. This was the prototypical emergence of man as “other Christ”  in the political, social and (to be) economic order.  (Blogger)Advertisements

Occasionally, some of your visitors m

John Adams And the Declaration of Independence

PUBLISHED ON /2021

The reason to preach July 4, 1776 to 1787 is the fact that it is not merely historical fact but a recounting of Christian faith lived over a period of 150 years. This gives some explanation as to why it is not possible to reduce the events of this period to economics, sociology, psychology, etc.  With regard to this point, Gordon S. Wood, in his “The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787,“ wrote:

“The American Revolution was not a common event,” John Adams wrote to the newspaper editor Hezekiah Niles in 1818. “Its effects and consequences have already been awful over a great part of the globe.” Adams then inquired: “But what do we mean by the American Revolution?” For Adams, the revolution was not just the Revolutionary War. The war had accelerated the revolution, to be sure, and the break with Britain enabled it to develop more freely. But the revolution itself involved a change in thought—new ideas about who “the people” were, how they interacted with each other and how they related to their government. “This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments and affections of the people,” Adams claimed, “was the real American Revolution.”

How did that radical change occur? By what means had the people of thirteen separate colonies come together “in the same principles in theory and the same system of action”? …

The most obvious change involved the elimination of monarchy and the establishment of a republic, which turned dependent subjects into independent citizens.”

           The Experience of Personhood as the Grounding of Citizenship

       BENEDICT XVI: ON DECEMBER 22, 2005 IN AN ADDRESS TO THE ROMAN CURIA, BENEDICT XVI STATED THAT “THE MODERN AGE HAD ALSO EXPERIENCED DEVELOPMENTS. PEOPLE CAME TO REALIZE THAT THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION WAS OFFERING A MODEL OF A MODERN STATE THAT DIFFERED FROM THE THEORETICAL MODEL WITH RADICAL TENDENCIES THAT HAD EMERGED DURING THE SECOND PHASE OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.” HE GOES ON TO EXPLAIN THAT “IF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WERE TO BE CONSIDERED AN EXPRESSION OF THE HUMAN INABILITY TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH AND THUS BECOME A CANONIZATION OF RELATIVISM, THEN THIS SOCIAL AND HISTORICAL NECESSITY IS RAISED INAPPROPRIATELY TO THE METAPHYSICAL LEVEL AND THUS TRIPPED OF ITS TRUE MEANING. CONSEQUENTLY, IT CANNOT BE ACCEPTED BY THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT THE HUMAN PERSON IS CAPABLE OF KNOWING THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD AND, ON THE BASIS OF THE INNER DIGNITY OF THE TRUTH, IS BOUND TO THIS KNOWLEDGE….

“The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern state with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt. 22, 21), as well as with the church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. 1 tm. 2, 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the state.[11]

 
Self-Evidence From Faith-Experience: Historically, North America passed through the experience of 150 years of Christian faith lived by mostly baptized Protestants with benefit of Scripture, prayer and work. As we have seen in previous blogs, the experience of faith as self-gift to the revealing Christ creates a consciousness of self-dignity and rights:

Russel Kirk

“(I)n the beginning, America was Protestant: that point has been emphasized by every historian of the United States. Therefore we turn to the doctrines and the mentality and the social characteristics of what we call Protestantism – or rather, of certain types of Reformers. But also we need to remind ourselves that when we call early America Protestant, we mean that America was Christian. The fundamental Christian convictions… were not undone at the Reformation. Instead, certain of those beliefs received a renewed emphasis from Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and the other Reformers…. The Protestant Reformers believed that they were reasserting and reviving the teachings of the early Church of Christ….

“The vast majority of people in the thirteen Colonies professed the Christian religion in one or another of its Protestant aspects – chiefly in Anglicanism, in Puritanism (an offshoot of Calvinism), or in Presbyterianism (another offshoot of Calvinism)…. This should be borne in mind: despite the ferocity of the Wars of Religion, the similarities among various Christian bodies are more important than their differences, where we have to do with questions of the order of the soul and of the commonwealth. Hideously though Catholics and Protestants often dealt with one another, still their understanding of man and of society had come from one Christian root.”[4]

             THEOLOGICAL EPISTEMOLOGY AS SIMON CAME TO A KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST AS “THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD” (MT. 16, 16) BY ENTERING INTO THE PRAYER OF CHRIST TO THE FATHER, AND SO BECOMING LIKE CHRIST WITH THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF CHRIST, SO A SOCIETY OF MEN IN A PROLONGED EXPERIENCE OF PRAYER, SAY 1620 TO 1776, CAN ACHIEVE A CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE DIGNITY AND SELF-DETERMINING FREEDOM OF PERSONHOOD THAT WE HAVE COME TO UNDERSTAND AS THE CHARACTERISTIC OF MODERN CITIZENSHIP.

Gordon Wood profiles the human development that accompanied this Christian experience: “It was not the force of arms which made the ancient republics great or which ultimately destroyed them. It was rather the character and spirit of their people. Frugality, industry, temperance, and simplicity – the rustic traits of the sturdy yeoman – were the stuff that made a society strong. The virile martial qualities – the scorn of ease, the contempt of danger, the love of valor – were what made a nation great. The obsessive term was luxury, both a cause and a symptom of social sickness. This luxury, not mere wealth but that `dull… animal enjoyment’ which left `minds stupefied, and bodies enervated, by wallowing forever in one continual puddle of voluptuousness,’ was what corrupted a society: the love of refinement, the desire for distinction and elegance eventually weakened a people and left them soft and effeminate, dissipated cowards, unfit and undesiring to serve the state. `Then slumbers that virtuuos jealousy of public men and public measures, which was wont to scrutinize not only actions but motives: then nods that active zeal, which, with eagle eye watched, and with nervous arm defended the constitution… Thus, before a nation is completely deprived of freedom, she must be fitted for slavery by her vices.’ Republics died not from invasions from without but from decay from within.” (Wood, 52-53).

Gordon Wood wrote: “The American Revolution has always seemed to be an extraordinary kind of revolution and no more so than to the Revolutionaries themselves… Because it did not seem to have been a usual revolution, the sources of its force and it momentum appeared strangely unaccountable ]my emphasis]‘In other revolutions, the sword has been drawn by the arm of offended freedom, under an oppression that threatened the vital powers of society.’ But this seemed hardly true of the American Revolution. There was none of the legendary tyranny of history that had so often driven desperate people into rebellion. The Americans were not an oppressed people; they had no crushing imperial shackles to throw off. In fact, the Americans knew they were probably freer and less burdened with the cumbersome feudal and hierarchical restraints than any part of mankind in the eighteenth century. To its victims, the Tories, the Revolution was truly incomprehensible. Never in history, said Daniel Leonard, had there been so much rebellion with so ‘little real cause.’ It was, wrote Peter Oliver, ‘the most wanton and unnatural rebellion that ever existed.’  The Americans’ response was out of all proportion to the stimuli… As early as 1775 Edmund Burke had noted in the House of Commons that the colonists’ intensive study of law and politics had made them acutely inquisitive and sensitive about their liberties. Where the people of other countries had invoked principles only after they had endured ‘an actual grievance,’ the Americans, said Burke, were anticipating their grievances and resorting to principles even before they actually suffered. ‘They augur misgovernment at a distance and snuff the approach of tyranny in very tainted breeze.’ The crucial question in the colonists’ minds, wrote John Dickinson in 1768, was ‘not, what evil has actually attended particular measures – but, what evil, in the nature of things, is likely to attend them.’ Because ‘nations , in general, are not apt to think until they feel… therefore nations in general have lost their liberty.’ [1] But not the Americans, as the Abbe Ranal observed. They were an ‘enlightened people’ who knew their rights and the limits of power and who, unlike any people before them, aimed to think before they felt.”

The Historical Context of the Declaration of Independence: John Adams

July 1, 1776: David McCullough, “John Adams”

“At ten o’clock, with the doors closed, John Hancock sounded the favel. Richard Henry Lee’s prior motion calling for indepence was again read aloug; the Congress resuleved itself into a committee of the whole and ‘resuemd consideration’ Immaediatley Dickinson, gaunt and eathly pale, stood to be herad. With marked earnestness, he arshaled all past argument and reasoning against ‘premature’ separation from Birtain. ‘He had preopared himself apparently with great labor and zeal,’ Adams would recall admiringly. ‘Heconducted the debate not only with great ingenuity and eloquence, but with equal pokliteness and candor….

“To proceed now with a declaration of indiependence, he said, would be [to b rave the storm in a skiff made of paper.’

When he sat down, all was silent except for the rain that had begun spattering against the windows. No one spoke; no one rose to answer him, until Adams at last ‘determined to speak.’

He wished now as never nhis life, Adams began, that he has the gifts of the ancient orators of Greece and Rome, for he was certain none of them ever had before him a question of greater importance. Outside, the wind picked up. The storm struck with thunder, lightning, and pelting rain. IN his schoolmaster adays at Worcester, Adams had recorded how such storms ‘unstrune’ him. Now he spoke on steadily, making the case for independence as he had so often before. He was logical, positive, sensivtive to the historic importance of the moment, and, looking into the future, saw a new nation, a new time, all much in the spirit of lines he had written in a recent letter to a friend.

Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, measures in which the lives and liberties of millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history of the world.

No transcription was made, no notes were kept. There would be only Adams’s own recollections, plus those of several others who would remember more the force of Adams himself than any particular thing he said. That it was the most powerful and important speech heard in the Congress since it first convened, and the greatest speech of Adams’s life, there is no question.

To Jerrerson, Adams was ‘not graceful nor elebant, nor remarably sluent,’ but spoke ‘with a power of thought and expression that moved us from our seats.’ Recalling the moment long afterwards, Adams would say he had been carried out of himself, ‘carried out in spirit,’ sd enthusiastic preachers sometimes express themselves.’ To Richard Stockton, one of the new delebates from New Jersey, Adams was ‘the Atlas’ of the hour, ‘the man to whom the country is most indebted for the great measue of independency…. He it was who sustained the debate, and by the force of his reasoning demonstraged not only the justice, but the expediencey of the measure.’

Stockton and two other new delegates from New Jersey, Francis Hopkinson and the Everend John Witherspoon, famour Presbyerian precacher and president of the Cooege of New Jersey at Princeton, had come into the chamger an hour or so after Adams had taken the floor and was nearly finished speaking. When they asked that Adams repeat what they had missed, he objected. He was not an actor there to entertain an audience, he said good-naturedly. But a the urging of Edward Turledge, who told Adams that only he has the facts at his command, Adams relilguished and gave the speech a second time ‘inn as concise a manner as I could,’ ‘til at length the New Jersey gentlemen said they were fully satisfied and ready for the question.’ By then he had been on his feet for two hours.

Others spoke, including Witherspoon, the first clergyman to serve in Congress, whose manner of speech made plain his Scottish origins. IN all, the debated lasted nine hours. At one point, according to Adams, Hewes of North Caroline, ho had long opposed separation from Britain, ‘started suddenly upright, and lifting up both his hands to Heaven, as if hye had been in a trace, dried out, ‘It is done! And I will abide by it.’

But when later that evening, a preliminary vote was taken, four colonies unexpectedly held back, refusing to proclaim independence. The all-important Pennsylvania delegation, despite popular opinion in Pennsylvania, stood with John Dickinson and voted no. The New York delegates abstained, saying they favored the motion but lacked specific instructions. South Caroline, too, surprisingly, voted no, while Delaware, with only two delegates present, was divided….

Though the record of all that happened the following day, Tuesday, Jyly 2, is regrettably sparse, it appears that just as the doors to Congress were about to closed at the usual hour of nine o’clock… John Dickinson and Robert Morris  – refusing to vote for independence but understanding the need for Congress to epak with one voice, volunrarilyabsented themselves from the proceedings, thus swinging Pennsylvanit behind independence by a vote of three to two…

So it was done, the break was made, in words at least: on Jyly w, 1776, in Philadelphia, the American colonies declared independence…

It was John Adams, more than anyone, who had made it happen. Further, he seems to have understood more clearly than any what a momentous day it was and in the privacy of two long letter to Abigail, he poured out his feelings as did no one else;

“The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generation as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.

Lest she judge him overly ‘transported,’ he said he was well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this declaration.’ Still, the end was more than worth all the means. ‘You will see in a few days,’ he wrote in the second letter, ‘a Declaration setting forth the causes, which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reason that will justify it in the sight of God and man.

That the hand of God was involved in the birth of the new nation he had no doubt. ’It is the will of haven that the two countries should be sundered forever.’ If the people now were to have ‘unbounded power,’ and as the people were quite as capable for corruption as ‘the great,’ and thus high risks were involved, he would submit al his hopes and fears to an overruling providence, ‘in which unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.’

[1] (Edmund Burke: “Speech on Moving His Resolution for Conciliation with the Colonies,” Mar. 22, 1775.