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Independence Reconsidered

3 de julio de 2024
Beato Solano Casey

Father Solanus Guild Reflection by Br. John Celichowski, OFM Cap. – July 3, 2024

A highlight of the month of July in the USA is our celebration of Independence Day. This year, the 4th of July marked the 248th anniversary of our founders’ declaration that we would be free from the rule of Great Britain and King George III. In just two years, we will celebrate 250 years as a nation—a significant accomplishment, but mere adolescence compared with others.

Independence is a strong value in our culture and history. Many of us grew up with the stories of pioneers, political leaders, inventors, activists, and entrepreneurs who were upheld as models of persistence, courage, resourcefulness, and other virtues. Lewis and Clark, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Cesar Chavez, Andrew Carnegie, and Steve Jobs are all in the pantheon of great Americans.

But none of them achieved success, fame, or influence alone. Pioneers were part of expeditions. Political leaders were members of parties and governed with the help of others (even if they were “a team of rivals”). Inventors were helped by able assistants. Activists were part of movements. Entrepreneurs had dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people working to turn their dreams into products and services. They depended on others, and the things they achieved were the products of that interdependence.

Bl. Solanus Casey knew what it was like to depend on others. Like many of us, in his childhood he depended on his parents to feed, clothe and house him, as well as to provide moral and religious guidance. In the seminary and in his religious formation, he depended on others to help him discern his vocation and learn how to live and serve as a friar and priest. Working as the Porter of St. Bonaventure’s and one of the founders of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, he depended on the help of benefactors to enable him and the other friars to serve others.

Most importantly, Bl. Solanus depended on God, handing over to God in prayer the countless intentions and needs that people shared with him over the years. All the favors that were received and any miracles that occurred may have been attributed to his intercession, but he never forgot that they were ultimately the Lord’s work and manifestations of divine grace.

Bl. Solanus also experienced and promoted interdependence. He witnessed it in his large Irish Catholic family in rural Wisconsin. He experienced it with the friars with whom he lived in Detroit, Milwaukee, Huntington, and elsewhere. He saw it when benefactors at the soup kitchen found new purpose in their lives even as they were helping others to eat and when those who came to receive counsel then became supporters of the missions through the Seraphic Mass Association.

Our independence as citizens of a free nation is something to celebrate and which we can never take for granted. But we can’t allow it to become an idol or obscure our call as members of the body of Christ, to place our trust in him, and to recognize and give thanks for our interdependence, as St. Paul so eloquently describes in Romans 12:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-31. We are interdependent, and we are all ultimately dependent on God, the one in whom we live, and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

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