A Work in Progress: Weekly Message for 07-04-2023

Dear Friends in Christ,

In recent years some Americans have been harshly criticizing their country as irremediably flawed, oppressive and racist.

The nastiness of the attacks has stunned many people and puzzled others.

While not a paradise—we will never see one in this world—the U.S. has been a source and symbol of hope for countless people. Even amid the pathos and suffering of thousands of hope-filled immigrants at the southern border, it’s striking how many people are willing to endure so much to become part of the country.

In today’s special Mass for Independence Day, the second option for the collect (the prayer that concludes the opening rites) mentions “for what has been achieved we give you thanks, for the work that still remains we ask your help.”

That expresses a beautiful balance: Thanks for the good that has been accomplished and a plea for help in striving toward the ideals that best foster true human development.

It’s an act of humility to admit past and present mistakes and to hope that, with God’s grace, a nation can move forward. And that, in turn, requires a prudent sense of what independence means.

None of us is independent. We rely on God’s providence to sustain us at every moment, and we are relational beings who depend on the support of others—relatives, farmers, doctors, public safety workers, you name it—for our daily needs.

To drive home that sense of our dependence on others, it might be helpful to pray along with our Retreat Guide “Christ Alone Is Enough.”

It can help remind us that true liberation is found in union with Jesus. For each of us, like each nation, is a work in progress.

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

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Christ Alone is Enough: A Retreat Guide on St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

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