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St. Peter Epistle — July 1, 2009 Independence Day

We were created to be free

Declaration of Independence

On July 4 we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a day we now understand as the founding of the United States of America. At the time, there was no guarantee that the brave men who declared independence from Britain would succeed. There were, for all purposes, signing their death warrants because if they failed, they would surely be hanged.

But they did succeed and out of their efforts a new nation was born. And this nation, despite some grave moral inequities like slavery that would not be settled until years later at great cost to itself, and despite mistakes and injustices along the way, would nevertheless rise as a beacon of freedom and hope in the world.

This call of freedom and hope rang in the ears of many of our immediate forbears. They came to America from all over the world because they believed that they might find the means to take care of their families. Many immigrated to escape war and poverty that afflicted so many other areas of the world.

Hard work, perseverance, and most of all the embrace of the right values ensured that a new life could be forged. And forge it they did. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice, and like them, we too must go forward to build on what they started.

Statue of Liberty

But America has fallen on hard times. Some of the difficulty is economic, but the more serious problem is that we have lost our moral compass. The values that guided the Forefathers were the same values that guided the early immigrants. Unfortunately they have fallen by the wayside in many areas of American life.

We don’t need to mention what they are. We already know. We worry about the moral lives of our children – what they face, the decisions they have to make. We worry about the collapse of the family. We worry that the public culture is increasingly profaned and there seems to be no way out of the moral confusion around us and the turmoil that it causes.


What do we do?

There is only one answer. We have to turn back to God. And the way back to God begins with us.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Russian author and dissident said that our social and moral crisis was because “man had forgotten God.” Only when man recovers what he called his “religious sensibility” will things turn around. And that begins with us.

This Sunday right after liturgy, we are going to do two things. First we are going to pray together for the healing of a seventeen year old boy who was diagnosed with cancer. The prayers of many people can be very powerful and we are going to ask God to bring him healing.

Second, we are going to pray for our country. We are going to ask God for His help in restoring moral clarity to this great nation that has become our home. We will be joining thousands of other Christians who are doing the same thing this Sunday. This is not a political action. This is a moral action. We will ask God to bring healing to our nation and help us recover the moral clarity America needs to find stability, purpose, and the right direction.

One final reminder

Don’t forget about the Independence Day barbecue that will be held on July 5 at St. Paul Antiochian Church (google map). All parishioners of St. Peter are invited. It starts at noon (you will have plenty of time to get there after Liturgy). Please RSVP by email ( or phone (239-348-0828).

God bless you and God bless America.

Fr. Hans