Constitutional Reflections

Here’s hoping all of you have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July Weekend! Despite the cautions we must take with Covid-19 this is still a great opportunity to get outside and spend some quality time with family and friends. I do encourage everyone to please do so as caution allows! This said, I would like to share with you some words about our nation which I printed in our bulletin 4 years ago, and which I believe are still pertinent today. It’s something we can all digest on along with those grilled burgers and brats!

If you reread the words of the Declaration of Independence on which our nation is founded, you will see the following: “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.”

In writing the Constitution the original authors wanted to base our form of government, not on the “Divine Right of Kings,” where in the past there have been certain abuses of power and authority, rather they wanted to base our new government on the, “Divine Right of Persons” which are established by God. This means each person has value regardless of who they are by virtue of the fact that it was God who created all people and who gave everyone certain rights. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” They recognized that if the State were solely responsible for people’s liberties and rights, then the State could also take them away! We’ve seen this in recent history through Marxist, Fascist, and Socialist governments of old. This would be a sad chain of events indeed!

Our founding fathers (and mothers) had the wisdom and insight to know that only some semblance of religion and belief in God could ensure the dignity of all human persons, a dignity which no government by itself can ensure. Hence we have written on every minted coin and paper bill, “In God we trust.” Government then (if it is functioning properly) is called to enact laws that protect these God-given “unalienable rights.”

No doubt, the events of these past weeks have put these constitutional words to a real test. True government allows for legitimate and peaceful protests against things like racial injustice so as to create reform, however, should any individual or group of people or institution act in violent ways so as to infringe on the rightful pursuit of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” of others, then government has the authority and right to step in to restore human dignity, protect others, and re-establish law and order. This, of course, is a delicate balance that should cause us to examine ourselves on how we do reform.

Like many nations, our own nation has its checkered past which we must learn from (not destroy). Historically, many steps have been made forward, but steps backwards as well. Today we still struggle to fully realize our own Constitutional Words and Law. Nations, like people, need to constantly reform in order to build a better society for all. Still, our United States of America is the greatest place to live and we have reason to celebrate our past, present, and future as well. Yes, there is still more work to do in regard to racial injustice, bias, tension, family dysfunction and overall Faith in God which is the basis of all moral law . This is something we can all play a part to help. In the meantime, let’s continue to pray for our nation and be thankful for what we’ve got. Let’s also better ourselves. On this 4th of July may God bless our nation and all peoples in Christ! Amen.

Fr. LeRoy Scheierl