Yes, happy 4th of July! According to the calendar of the Church, July 4th’s real significance is that it is the feast day of St. Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336), a patron Saint of peacemakers.
The sad fact, however, is that if you were to attend Mass on this day, the chances of your priest mentioning this feast are slim to none. Instead, you are likely to participate in a Eucharist which has been transformed into a syncretistic ritual of american civil religion. Thank God that, despite the sectarian tendencies of the american Church, the transnational Church calls us Catholics to be a peculiar people who mark time differently than the rest of the world, and the rest of our nation.
St. Elizabeth, pray for us, that we american Catholics may truly take our place in the one, transnational Body of Christ that resists the dismemberment caused by our tendency to cling to national allegiances. And on the day that the rest of the united states celebrates its foundational myth of violence and the sacrifices of soldiering which parody the Cross, let us be ever more formed by the words of Jesus in the Gospel reading for July 4th: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”