Happy Fourth of July! Let me share today St. John Paul II’s prayer for the U.S. back in 1995. Please join me:
Mary Immaculate, conceived without sin: Patroness of the United States! From the first moment of your existence you were called by God to be the Mother of His Incarnate Son. Model of our faith, you watched over the Incarnate Son of God as He grew in wisdom, age and grace. Look upon the people of this great nation, so richly blessed by God with material and spiritual resources. May they draw fresh inspiration from the highest ideals of their democratic tradition and contribute to the building of a world of solidarity, justice and peace, a world in which everyone is welcomed as a fellow-guest at the great banquet of life.
Mary our Queen, you stood beside your Son at the foot of the Cross and rejoiced in His Resurrection from the dead. Model of our hope, you awaited the fulfillment of Christ’s promises at Pentecost and now share the fullness of life in His eternal Kingdom. Look upon all who are united to your Son in Baptism and are called to share in His royal mission. May they be a leaven of the Kingdom of God in American society, humbly serving the needs of their brothers and sisters and bearing faithful witness to the splendor of Christ’s truth and to the saving power of His Gospel.
Mary, Mother of the Church: Mother of Christians! The Lord has entrusted all His disciples to you, to be our Mother (cf. John 19:27). Model of Christian love, you contemplate your Son in glory and intercede for the members of His Body on earth. Look upon the Church in the United States at the approach of the Third Christian Millennium. Through penance, prayer and active charity, may Christ’s followers meet the challenges of the new evangelization and work for the authentic renewal of human society in accordance with the truth of God’s Word. As they work together with all men and women of good will, may they be joyful heralds and servants of the Gospel of Life!
Today, I’d also like to encourage you to watch the documentary, Undefeated. It’s about a losing football team turned around by the uncommon leadership of coach Bill Courtney. My wife and I watched it last week, and both said in unison at the end of the credits, “Wow.” It’s truly a testament to the power of sports to forge — or better, reveal — moral character and to allow great leaders to influence (in the case of this movie) young men’s lives for the better. The core message of “team first” is a magnificent witness to the heart of Christ’s teaching on love as the guardian of the common good.
The song that played at the end, Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So (hear here), beautifully captured the essential theme of the movie: the redeemed reveal that goodness is the soul of greatness, and that the soul of goodness is love.
I will definitely be encouraging the seminarians I serve at Notre Dame Seminary to learn from coach Courtney’s exemplary style of fatherly leadership, moral character and selfless love.
Here’s info on the documentary: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1860355/