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Current Events Ink Slingers Michelle Respect Life Spiritual Growth

Yes, America is Still a Great Nation

As our 4th of July celebrations come to a close and we begin our new work week, there is something that has been on my mind and on my heart. To be honest, I thought about it the entire weekend.

america is dyingOn Friday I read an article by Matt Walsh entitled, “No, America is Not a Great Nation.”  I don’t normally read many of his writings and only clicked through because a trusted friend had linked up the story. His style of writing is not one that I typically read as I am tenderhearted and tend to stay away from controversial matters, especially ones that get heated fast. However, when I do read his writings, I often find myself agreeing with some of his points. This article was no different. I found myself thinking about all the ways our nation has failed and how we are not the “great” nation we used to be.

Mr. Walsh pointed out that we’ve become a nation of people who kill babies, burn down our cities, push birth control on our children, glorify pornography, are unable to have differing opinions without being called racist, homophobic, or intolerant, and who ignore the Constitution when it fits our needs. And he’s right. Our nation has become all those things. Our Founding Fathers are probably hanging their heads in shame for us. The nation we fought so hard to become is not a nation of peace, freedom, and hope anymore.

Or is it?

As I sat reading the article on Friday, something just didn’t sit right with me. While these accusations are true, I think Mr. Walsh misses a very important point. His reader asked for hope and to show how our nation is still great. After pointing out all our failings, Mr. Walsh asks his readers, “If so, what’s so great about being great? Where is the optimism in that miserable greatness? Where is the hope for the future if moral bankruptcy, selfishness, confusion, stupidity, deviancy and failure are “great”?

As the weekend passed and I celebrated our nation’s birth with our family and friends, I couldn’t help but think of this article over and over again. The point I think that Mr. Walsh misses is that while all these terrible things are true about our nation, the hope and the fire for freedom and equality are still alive in the nation’s people! I know because I see it on a daily basis.

stand for life 5Our nation has slaughtered almost 56 million innocent lives since the passing of Roe v. Wade. The numbers are staggering and grip at the heart and soul. But even while many have become apathetic to this plight, there are others who stand up and fight for life! There are people who pray outside of abortion clinics, those who run pregnancy resource centers, there are Stand for Life rallies, and 40 Days for Life events. There are people meeting behind the scenes trying to figure out ways to end this scourge. Yes, abortion is rampant in our society but there is still hope. Those who fight for life will tell you that even in the face of incredible odds the fight is worthwhile and good. There is hope.

stand for life 18I think about our cities burning and lawlessness being encouraged and celebrated. There has been a steady rise in crime and unlawful acts and it seems as if people not only don’t respect the law, but other humans as well. As the wife of a police officer, I can’t tell you how many times I have feared for my husband’s life and for those whom we call family- brothers and sisters of the badge.  My heart cries when I watch the news and see all the violence and crime and worry about what will face our children in the future. But there is still hope. There are good men and women willing to fight evil on the front lines, sacrificing everything if called to do so, to protect us from those who would bring us harm. They still respect our nation’s laws and swear to uphold them to the best of their ability. They may not always do it perfectly, but they are still trying, sacrificing for the betterment of our society. There are so many honorable men and women in this nation. There is hope.           

When I think about our citizens I do wonder what has gotten into the minds and hearts of some. Why would they care so little about one another? How can they disregard life the way they do? How can they destroy their neighborhoods or what others have built up through hard work? It’s not only violence that I’m thinking about when I contemplate this. I wonder how people can ignore the needs of others so that they can find financial gain or status. Why do they consider others unimportant and disposable?

SAM_1512While it is true that there are many who are willing to destroy the lives and the well-being of others either through violence or self-gain, there are many others who are working hard to rebuild neighborhoods and lives through the gift of volunteerism and charity. I don’t have to go far to witness this in my own life. We just returned from a mission trip to help minister to the homeless and needy. While our trip was a short one, there are many who work on a daily basis to help improve the lives of others. Those who work in soup kitchens, shelters, pregnancy resource centers, food pantries, churches, hospitals, organizations that work to improve neighborhoods like People Working Cooperatively, Habitat for Humanity, organizations that help individuals obtain their high school diplomas or to find work, and those who respond to crisis situations or natural disasters. There are millions of people who donate their time, money, and talent every single day to lift up others and to make our world a better place. There is hope.

Leading our children to God
Photo courtesy of Michael T. Barrett

We may look at the world around us and feel overwhelmed and worried. It seems as if at every turn our religious rights are being stripped away from us. If they aren’t being stripped away they are being corrupted and dismantled. Sometimes it feels like we are the lone follower standing up for what we believe. But this is not so. We have people who dedicate their time and talent to teaching our children the faith- religious education instructors, youth leaders, vacation bible school teachers, and religious brothers, sisters, and priests. They encourage us, as our children’s primary faith educators, to stay the course and to be faithful. The world is so loud all around us, shouting for us to turn our back on what we believe, but there are many who are willing to stand up devoutly to teach and proclaim the truth. There is hope.

We went to our local fireworks show on the Fourth. The forecast was calling for storms, but when we arrived we had hope that the rain might hold off. We sat with friends on the hill watching the orchestra warm up. Our children blew bubbles and rolled down the hill without a care in the world. When the orchestra began playing “The Star Spangled Banner”, every single person rose from their seats. With hands over our hearts, some sang and some simply took in the beauty of seeing so many honoring our nation. I felt hope.

fireworks
Photo courtesy Michael T. Barrett

Soon though, the rain moved in and many would leave before the fireworks would begin. We sat in our car and waited. Despite the rain, the event organizers decided to go ahead with the fireworks. When they started we jumped from our car and headed out to watch. As my family stood in the rain on Saturday night watching the fireworks that celebrated our nation’s birth and greatness, I could help but feel proud and encouraged. Despite the downpour there were hundreds of others willing to weather the storm to give honor and thanks for the sacrifices that so many have endured over the years to help our country flourish and grow.  I looked around me and saw hope.

It’s easy to look at our problems and think that all is lost. But God is still very much alive in our nation. We only have to look at those who are working to make our nation better- those who sacrifice their time, their talents, and their energy to help those in need; those who are protecting our nation both abroad and on the home front; those who are imparting our faith to our children and helping to nourish our souls; those who fight for the life of all of God’s children. Yes, there is much wrong in our nation, but we are still a nation filled with many good and honorable people. If, like Mr. Walsh says, we are not able to separate the people from the nation, I believe that this means we still live in a great nation- one that is overflowing with hope.

It only took one man dying on the cross to bring hope to the world. That hope is eternal and regardless of what our worries are or where we think our nation is headed, there is always hope.

flag and crucifix

Categories
Charla Ink Slingers

SEVEN WAYS TO CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE DAY

1)            GO TO MASS

Most parishes offer at least one community Mass on holidays.  What better way is there to start any celebration than with worship, community, and the Eucharist.  I like how Mass in the morning focuses me.  I am able to avoid getting caught up in the stressors and complications that oftentimes accompany holidays and celebrations associated with them

2)            PREPARE A SPECIAL CLICHE 4th OF JULY DISH

Develop your own or borrow an idea from a friend for a corny, red, white, and blue inspired dish.  Even if you are staying home and having a low key experience at home, fun Independence Day food enlivens the day.

red-white-blue-skewers-recipe-forth-of-julyI make red, white, and blue fruit skewers: Slide cut-up strawberries, whole blueberries, and slices of banana (or marshmallows) onto the skewer and that is it.  (If you use bananas, make sure to squeeze a little lemon juice to keep the fruit from browning.)

 

Another simple favorite is red, white and blue gelatin cups.  This takes a little patience. Use clear glass or plastic cups, fill 1/3 full with cherry gelatin, following directions on the package, refrigerate, and let that set. Once it is set, add blue gelatin (let this one cool slightly before pouring it in the cups), fill another 1/3 way.  Refrigerate and let that set; top with whipped topping of your choice.

3)            FLY AN AMERICAN FLAG in front of your home. I always feel extra patriotic when Old Glory is waving.  Making this piece of Americana part of your décor always puts you in the celebrating mood.  Tablecloths, tapestries, plates and napkins are fun ways to make the day special.

4)            EAT APPLE PIE.apple

5)            ATTEND COMMUNITY CELEBRATIONS               

Most towns have a fireworks display for the community.  fireworkNot only is this safer than the do-it -yourself fireworks at home, it is often more spectacular. Little ones and big kids will ooh and aah with delight.  Parades are also a fun way to spend the 4th of July.  Marching bands and floats are so very American.

6)          WEAR RED, WHITE, & BLUE.  Shirts with Old Glory, hats, socks, hair bows—go all out.  Don your children in red white and blue as well.  There are cute girls’ bows and dresses and boys’ t-shirts and caps. It is the one day of the year when it is perfectly acceptable to be very corny.

7)            SAY A PRAYER.  Make your evening prayers about our country. Pray a Rosary or pray the prayer below from Catholic Online.praying girl

Prayer for our Nation (U.S.A)

God our Father, Giver of life,

we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care.

You are the rock on which this nation was founded.

You alone are the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your people.

Send Your Spirit to touch the hearts of our nation´s leaders.

Open their minds to the great worth of human life and the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.

Remind Your people that true happiness is rooted in seeking and doing Your will.

Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of our land, grant us the courage to reject the “culture of death.”

Lead us into a new millennium of life. We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

 

Categories
7 Quick Takes Christi Ink Slingers

Seven Quick Takes Friday: Favorite July Memories

Welcome to Seven Quick Takes Friday – Christi’s style! Kerri has done a fabulous job with this regular column for quite some time now and is letting me have a stab at it for an undetermined time. As this Friday’s 7 quick takes is falling on a significant US Holiday, I decided it would be fun to learn what type of favorite memories many of our Catholic Sistas have of their past fourth of July celebrations. Not surprisingly, all of these special memories were life events that were crossing paths with this special date in the history of our country, a date that most of us associate with being the birth date of the United States. Obviously the birth of this country began several years before the first Independence Day,  none the less, the 4th of July marks a momentous event in this country’s life. And so it seems does the annual Fourth of July photographed memories of our Catholic Sistas. See if you think the same, as you peruse the following photographs that various Catholic Sistas generously shared with me.

–1–

This beautiful baby came home from the hospital on the Fourth of July. Now that’s a Fourth of July to remember.  I don’t know about you – but while I remember my children’s birthdates – I’d be hard pressed to tell you the exact date they came home especially as their 13 birthdays are spread over three decades and their hospital stays varied from none to five days in length.

 –2–

The first Fourth of July that this Catholic Sistas’s baby celebrated was a miracle. Neither his mother, nor he, was expected to survive his birth, yet they both made it through. That made his first Fourth of July celebration a very special day to remember. Miracles don’t happen every day!

 –3–

These twin girls made Fourth of July a special memory for their family. After all it’s not so often that a family is double blessed as it is when twins join their ranks! It was double fun forever after their first July fourth.

 –4–

Of course, our photographed memories of births and birthdays on or near to this great American holiday don’t stop at babyhood but continue on and one lovely Catholic Sista shared a great photo of her 40th birthday and all of those amazing pies & festive cakes she cooked to share with family and friends that particular year. (We won’t say WHAT year that was – that’s a secret!)

 –5–

Life, as we all know, completes a full cycle and here we have a very, very special memory shared by one of our Sista’s – the memory of their last Fourth of July with an older family member lighting a sparkler for a younger member of the family.

 –6–

(Photo Credit)

Wait, what’s this? This is NOT the White House in Washington! Its… it’s the parliament buildings in Ottawa, Canada! This photo signifies a different kind of life event, that of leaving one’s homeland for another country. This picture is not one of our own as our family photos from Canada are not yet on a computer. None the less, it reminds me of  the many sultry July first nights we drove to our capital hill in Canada and celebrated July First in high style. Our last Canada Day spent in Canada, we loaded all eight children into our 12 passenger van and drove over an hour to view the incredible fireworks they have every year. What we did not know was that this would be our last Canada day celebration in our own country.  And with this memory – I also give a nod to our Canadian Catholic Sistas who contribute to, and read our magazine.

–7–

Since moving here in 1997, we have gradually made the transition from celebrating our own July first holiday to mostly celebrating the fourth of July. We still make the first a little special with a treat but we mainly focus on the fourth. After all – we have added five little Yankees to our brood. Here is our third Yankee bred child celebrating July fourth in her own special way when she was three.

 

 

We are encouraged to stay under a 1200 word count in our Catholic Sista articles and since a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, I feel that I have gone well over my 1200 limit. So I will bid you adieu and wish you a grand Fourth of July filled with many happy memories. Make sure you capture a few – just in case we do this again and need new memories to share next year!

God Bless and Happy Fourth of July

(PS don’t forget to meander over to Jen’s  and see what other folks have shared with their fourth of July 7 Quick Takes!)

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