A new independence

by | Jul 4, 2020 | Presence

St. Louis the King IX of France -open domain from wikimedia

“Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul, except sin. God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.” – St. Francis de Sales

 Independence day is at hand. For over 2 centuries, we’ve celebrated freedom gained by independence from tyranny. And such independence requires interdependence to achieve.

How do we gain independence from our own neediness, wants, brokenness? In whole, dependence upon God. In part, our interdependence as Catholics in this mystical body of Christ and with all of creation. Rather than a material foundation of brick and concrete, we are building a foundation in the Spirit. Each one of us is a brick in it. The mortar has to be our sharing of that Spirit selflessly, other-focused. Indifferent to thinking what others should or shouldn’t do, we instead ask what can I do? Helping to lift from someone the proverbial straw that ‘breaks the camel’s back’ rather than being the one to place that last back-breaking straw on their burden. This is all part of that obedience of which St. Ignatius and other saints speak. It takes interdependence to gain independence from the enemy and gain freedom of living in Christ.

 “Political power emanates from God. Government was introduced by divine law, but the divine law has given this power to no particular man” (St. Robert Bellarmine)

 What we need is a new declaration of independence. We need to stop making politics our god and instead make God our politics. Democracy was taught and fostered throughout the world by the Catholic Church. Doctor of the Church St. Robert Bellarmine has wisdom to share on this. “Mankind is naturally endowed and born with freedom from all subjection, and at liberty to choose what form of government it please”. The Declaration of Independence is a mirror of the Saint’s writings. And as God would have it, our nation’s independence is celebrated on the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Portugal, the great peacemaker and lover of the poor.

 “He that desires in earnest to erect a Ladder by which he may ascend as high as to God Almighty, ought to make the first Step, from the Consideration of himself. For every Individual amongst us, is both the Creature and Image of God, and nothing is nearer to us than our selves. (St. Robert Bellarmine

 In Lumen Gentium 1964, Pope Paul VI prophetically implored upon us to embrace the universal call to holiness.  It is through our own change that our families, friends and communities will change. St. Monica converted her husband by changing her ways and through her own holiness. The wealthy and benevolent St. King Louis of France, who courageously led the charge to save Christendom in the Crusades and was known for his kindness and great peacemaking, slept on the floor even though “worn with toil, illness, and austerities”. “”Beware of undertaking a war against any Christian prince without great deliberation; and if it has to be undertaken, see that thou do no hurt to Holy Church and to those that have done thee no injury”.

The first step to holiness is taming the will. If we bend our will to God’s, we begin to see the pieces of our providential plan which He has always had in place for us. A person finds that God brings them to certain saints for their mentoring, guidance and, yes, intercession. As custodians of their child’s spiritual well-being, parents have an extra duty in this so as to facilitate the child’s connection to the saint. With 1 in 4 US children experiencing or observing trauma by age 4 (Catholics NOT excluded), mentors such as 13-year-old martyr St. Pelagius (Feast day June 26) are already on stand-by just waiting for the child to be guided to them.

“Louis developed fame by making himself available to hear cases at Vincennes seating himself beneath an oak tree in the park. He would invite anyone with a case to settle to come forward and be heard. Should a case involve a dispute between a rich and poor person, Louis would give special attention to the concerns of the poor person.” 

 They will know we are Christians by our love, and that is evidence by authentic virtues.

As a society, we have lost our capacity for kindness. The gift of our faith is that it—we–are the storehouse of kindness to bring to the world. We need to be in continuous contemplation of God within us and about us to do so. This comes through living a discerning life, for prayer is meant to transform, not just inform. From simple habits come profound wisdom and authentic holiness.

The sacraments are the most necessary habit. While public masses are limited, priests continue to hold mass throughout the day worldwide. In the sweet book of 1946, Retreat Companion for Priests, Fr. Francis Havey refers to the mass as ‘The Great Cry to God from the Earth’.  That seems a particularly apt title today. We must continue to pray for all clergy, religious, and those in formation.

 Open, O Lord, the ark-door of your side, that all your own who shall be saved may enter in, before this flood that overwhelms the earth.

Open to us your body’s side, that those who long to see the secrets of your Son may enter in, and may receive the sacraments that flow therefrom, even the price of their redemption.

Open the door of your heaven, that your redeemed may see the good things of God in the land of the living, though thy still labor in the land of the dying.

Let them see and long and yearn and run, for you have become

The way by which they go,

The truth to which they go,

The life for which they go. (William of Thierry)


Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. 😊