Backyard-barbecue, Catholic American

If you would offer me burnt offerings, then let justice surge like water,

saith the Lord, through the prophet Amos. If you would barbecue your beef outdoors and make a pleasing aroma, then let justice surge like water.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us this admonition on our national barbecue day. We know that You love and bless the United States of America. You do not hesitate to address the words of Your prophet to us directly, to remind us that we must seek justice—if we would eat our hamburgers in peace, with untroubled souls.

The prophet Amos warned the Israelites against wishing that Judgment Day would come. He reminded them that the reckoning would prove more fierce and terrifying than they could imagine. Just do good and avoid evil. Live honestly. Eat your humble hamburger in peace, having wronged no man, and let God be God.

God has indeed done something in this 236-year-old country that hardly anyone could have anticipated. Even 75 years ago, I think, it would have been hard to imagine the peaceful middle-class life that most of us English-speaking American Catholics now enjoy. We love the Pope; we love the United States; we try hard to do our best by both. –The American Catholic, 2012, eating his hamburger—and maybe fanning himself with his church bulletin, because there’s a 15% chance he doesn’t have electricity, owing to the recent storms. He’s at peace on this soil.

Could Thomas Jefferson have imagined us easy-going Catholic Americans? Could King Henry VIII have imagined us? I don’t think so. God has accomplished an amazing thing.

So, having kept our Fortnight for Freedom, let’s eat our hamburgers and relax.

But hopefully, during this fortnight, we have learned something about how fragile this backyard-barbecue, Catholic-American peace really is. Without the daily struggle to do good and avoid evil, without the long, arduous pursuit of justice—without the virtues upon which our Church was founded, and the virtues upon which our nation was founded; without faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude; without these hard-won jewels of our spiritual treasury, we will not have peace.

Even with them, we may have a rough time. Can we reasonably doubt that we Catholic Americans have enemies? People who hate us, precisely because we stand for what we stand for. Because we love the Pope and his teachings, and we will do everything in our power not only to live by them, but also to teach them to others.

When you have courage and clarity, you have enemies—just like the Lord Jesus did. Which means you have the golden opportunity to love your enemies. To pray for them, listen to them, make sacrifices for them, and do every honorable thing to win them over as friends.

May God be pleased to keep us at peace—our little miracle of backyard-barbecue, easy-going Catholic America. May our children inherit this peace—if such be the divine will.

But may the Lord also be pleased to stoke our hearts with the fire of divine love. May that fire keep us humble, faithful, and true—through whatever battles may come.

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