Since this Independence Day coincides with First Friday, I had planned to get up early, attend Mass, and then stay for Adoration for at least an hour.  Unfortunately, I had the worst time getting my act together this morning… I felt terrible about it, but just couldn’t get myself collected.

Finally, I did make it to the last 15-20 minutes of Adoration.  I wept nearly the whole time… I wept for the scourge of abortion… I wept for America and for the conversion of her people, without which we will never overcome abortion and other crimes against life… and I wept partly because I felt guilty for not coming earlier.  My parish only has Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on First Friday mornings, so when I miss it, I feel like I’ve squandered a very special opportunity.  But the Lord comforted me.  He knows I haven’t been quite at my best lately, and He is always especially merciful to those who are suffering.  And I did get an opportunity I normally miss out on–the closing rituals: the Tantum Ergo, the Benediction, the Divine Praises, the Te Deum hymn (“Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”).  That was sort of nice to witness.

Naturally, I have been thinking about America a lot today.  I love this country so much!  No matter how flawed our society may be, no matter what evils may run rife within it, this country is great.  There is no other country on Earth where I would rather live or call my home.  I am not one of those crybaby celebrities always spouting off, “If so-and-so happens in this country, then I’m moving to Canada [or insert whichever other country is trendy at the moment]!”  I wish they would be true to their word, but I guess that would take too much honesty and integrity of character–things that Americans have traditionally always held dear.

This country is so vast and so beautiful, with her gleaming cities and glorious lands, her industry, her abundance, her talent and innovation, as well as her long-standing traditions.  This country has been a bastion of liberty and hospitality, and I think she still is, despite the flaws and abuses within the systems.

Basically, I don’t believe in blaming this country for the flaws of some of her people.  For one thing, there is too great a variety among her people to paint with such broad strokes.  And while the critics and crazies and trouble-makers may speak the loudest, I think that most citizens still love and respect this country and the principles on which she was founded.  If I really wanted to, I could find reasons to be miffed.  I could get miffed because some Americans, past and present, have been anti-Catholic bigots.  I could get really miffed that some Americans think abortion should be a human right–a notion that is against everything I believe and stand for.  I could throw up my hands and say, “That does it, I’m going to Rome to live near the Pope!”  I could be a great big diva and throw a great big tantrum if I really wanted to.  But I would much rather live my life as a proud Catholic-American in peace and gratitude, because no matter the wrong opinions and wrong actions of some Americans, this is my country too, as it was my ancestors’ before me.  I feel that in every fiber of my being.  Only extraordinary sheer brute force could make me leave this country for another.

That is why I pray so hard for the conversion of my fellow Americans.  I know I can be very critical at times, but it truly isn’t from malice.  It may well be from frustration, exasperation, and other things at times, but never malice.  When you love somebody, you naturally want the best for them, don’t you?  The best thing I can want for my fellow citizens is their conversion and their sanctification–as a Catholic, I firmly believe that that is the only thing that can bring happiness.  I know some of my countrymen would consider that very wrong and perhaps very hostile.  Well, that’s fine with me if that’s what they believe; I can’t know or judge what is in their hearts and souls, and we all have to do what we understand to be right and good–that’s what liberty is all about (and incidentally, that’s a notion firmly rooted in Christianity).  In my eyes, those people are free to think and act and believe as they see fit.  All I ask is that the feeling be mutual!  And so, I will continue to pray and “work behind the scenes,” so to speak.  That is the very least I can do for my country.  And while I may never see the fruits of my work during my lifetime, I believe it can and will make a difference.

God bless America, and God bless all Americans, especially our military men and women and those far away from our homeland on this blessed and joyous day!  May all of us appreciate what we have in this excellent country–not only today, but every day!