Independence Day for us American’s is a time of reflection, a time of celebration of our freedom and time to remember the cost of that freedom, some gave all! Today, most of us are given a day off from labor and we can easily find celebrations to attend usually ending with a grand display of fireworks. This tradition seems to have begun on July 4, 1777 where the festivities of the day were concluded with cannon fire and rockets launched into the darkness of the sky exploding into brilliant light.
Massachusetts delegate John Adams penned a letter to his wife, envisioning the festivities: “I am apt to believe that [Independence Day] will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival,” he wrote. “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews (shows), Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
I hope everyone had a great and festive 4th of July! Our country has indeed fought great battles for our freedom and continues daily to keep a careful watch of our liberty. There is great another battle going on daily in our lives and it is a strategic conquest for our soul. Within our personal internal darkness there is also hope of independence. If we commit ourselves to “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty” an explosion of light will illumine our path on the narrow, hard-fought road of salvation. We fight for freedom from the slavery of sin (John 8:31-36) and dependence on God alone. And there is quite a joyous celebration in heaven happening every time a sinner finds repentance and loosens his independent will and becomes more dependent and ever-trusting in God. (Luke 15:10)
St. Philaret of Moscow said: “True freedom is the active ability of a man who is not enslaved to sin, who is not pricked by a condemning conscience, to choose the better in the light of God’s truth, and to bring it into actuality with the help of the gracious power of God. This is the freedom of which neither heaven nor earth are restrict.” ( St. Philaret of Moscow, Sermon on the Birthday of Emperor Nicholas I, 1851)
We can win the liberating battles in life if we commit our lives to being an arsenal of prayer. Prayer displaces evil in our hearts. Abba Pimen was one who struggled for piety and purity of heart. He taught us: “As long as the pot is on the fire, no fly nor any other animal can get near it, but as soon as it is cold, these creatures get inside. So it is for the monk; as long as he lives in spiritual activities, the enemy cannot find a means of overthrowing him.” (Sayings of the Desert Fathers, p. 154)
Holy Apostle Mark recorded our Lord saying this: “In my name shall they cast out demons” (Mark 16:17) Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner! Recitation of this powerful prayer will stoke the fire that illumines the depth of darkness in our soul with a brilliant uncreated light. Fight the battles day by day and make every day a day of dependence on God and a day independent from the tyranny of sin and death.
Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-7-2019