02 July 2014

Should Catholics Celebrate the Fourth of July?

Sub Tuum. 

Should Catholics celebrate the Fourth of July? This question cycles around this time every year in America. It's a good question, given the checkered history the nation has with Catholicism. It is even more underscored by the the current rise of secularism overall. And, there is even what is effectively a heresy that was termed "Americanism" by Pope Leo XIII.

Nationalism is also something shunned by the faith. Liking where you live and wanting to defend your home is one thing, but carried much beyond that it becomes a situation in which the state becomes more important than the faith and the brotherhood of mankind. Or, you end up with a form of nationalistic Christianity so prevalent in American Protestantism where the church and individual parishes become agents of nationalism. Yet the Church of Christ knows no national boundaries. National flags have no place within the chancel rail by the altar, for that is the altar of God, not the altar of the country. The people on the other side of the border are still our brothers and sisters in Christ not to be looked down upon simply because they are on the other side of the border, either by choice or accident of birth.

This does not mean, however, that one cannot celebrate the Fourth of July. It does mean that it must be celebrated with the appropriate mindset. Being happy with the place you live and work and raise your family, in whose military you may have served, where your ancestors may have been for some time, or where your family may have moved to seek, hopefully, a better life, etc., are all fine things to celebrate. This should all be done with the realization that God knows no national boundaries. It should be done in humility, remembering always that one's first loyalty is to God and His Holy Church.