Sunday, July 11, 2010

"We Hold These Truths.." My July Secular Franicscan Fraternity Newsletter Column

“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” (Declaration of Independence – United States of America)

“Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself, let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.

Let them individually and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives. Especially in the field of public life, they should make definite choices in harmony with their faith.” (Articles 14-15, Secular Franciscan Rule 1978)

Last weekend we celebrated the birth of this nation, that occurred on July 4, 1776. That was the date that the Declaration of Independence was approved. Since then, the above words have been a rallying cry for millions of oppressed people, who seek to secure for themselves those rights that have been given by our Creator God. Since that date, in this nation, there has also been a continually debate on what those “Rights” mean, and how they are to be secured, and for whom. The process has at times been messy. Unfortunately, it has at times been bloody.

It is a process, though, that we as Secular Franciscans are called to engage in. I know that many are disgusted with the way our political system has developed. Public discourse has devolved into name calling, slander, and real hatred. We need to show our local communities, our states, our nation, that it is possible to have a civil debate; it is possible to build a “fraternal” society. We are called not to separate from public life, but to enter into it, so that the poor, the outcast, the forgotten have a voice that will remind all people why this nation was established, to secure those “unalienable rights” that belong to us all.

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