Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
Two hundred thirty and six years ago our founding forebears risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to secure their liberty and bequeath it to their heirs.
So precious and fragile, they sought to protect it from every enemy and thief, be they foreign or domestic.
Time and again their inheritors were called upon to defend that treasured heirloom from enemies foreign with their labor, their ingenuity, and too often their blood.
To secure it from that most rapacious robber, ourselves, they again called upon their ingenuity and wisdom to devise a system of constitutional domestic government based upon limiting principles and the application of checks and balances.
The Constitution was intended as a shield against tyranny. A shield being preferable to other methods of defense. But no constitution, no matter how wise, can prevent a brutish people from cannibalizing its own liberty forever. By all accounts, ours has done better than most.
Today on the anniversary of our nation's birth one cannot help but reflect upon the state of that treasure.
Recently all three branches of government, forsaking their raison d'être as checks against the other, joined together to remove the last limiting principle intended by that Constitution of wise men.
Tyranny! A small crowd shouted, the rest unaware of the monumental occasion for today seems quite like yesterday.
But tyranny is not a sudden summer storm that darkens the sky and makes manifest its threat. As it has been since the fall, tyranny advances like the dusk in November, little by little and day by day.
But even those who recognize a threat sometimes fail to recognize what is threatened. Shouts of "We must save the Constitution!" can be heard. As Christians we must always remember that the Constitution we cherish is but a means to an end, not the end itself.
Our founders sought to secure our liberty but even that liberty, although proper to our nature as children made in the image and likeness of a good God, is still but a means and not an end properly sought. Even our liberty has an end and that end is holiness.
It should come as no surprise that a people who do not seek after their God and to be holy like Him does not esteem liberty.
But holiness is the only true check on tyranny and the necessary foundation for enduring liberty.
Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, the act we remember today, knew this when he reminded "Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."
So many of the founders expressed similar sentiments that is without doubt that they knew what so many of us have blotted out. That the purpose of liberty is holiness and the only way to secure our liberty is to be a holy people.
Only a holy people can truly be a free people.
On this Independence Day I pray, May God bless America with holy men and women. If He does, liberty will take care of itself.