“We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their creator
with certain unalienable rights,
that among these are
life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
With these stirring words, the thirteen original American colonies declared their independence from their colonial masters and laid down the foundations for what today is the greatest nation on earth. For all its complicated and sometimes disappointing history, the United States has for the most part been a force for freedom and goodness in the world.
Whenever people yearned for freedom and liberty, they often looked to the United States as an inspiration, a model, a refuge, or a final destination. It has been the source of many of the many inventions that make our lives today what they are. Twice within a lifetime, the country has stepped in to stop two global conflicts. Whenever and wherever disaster or calamity strikes, Americans are often the first ones to help and the ones who help in the most significant way. They are often forgiving and helpful of their former enemies. They have helped rebuild nations and countries, they have prevailed over in war.
It is sad to see what is happening in the US today though. Many of the lofty ideals that have formed the nation are now being severely tested, challenged, and even perverted. Because of it faithful adherence to its ideals of freedom and equality, the USA is often the testing ground and even battle ground for peoples or minorities who have been often neglected or even discriminated against in the past.
Today is also the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. She is known as Thérèse of the Little Way. She wanted to be a great saint going out to convert sinners and tranform the world; but she realized that was not meant to be. She was bound to her convent and devoted most of her times to the menial tasks nuns are often assigned in their convents. This did not deter her. Instead, she decieded: “I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way—very short and very straight little way that is wholly new.”
Today, she is venerated as a Patron Saint of the Missions along with Saint Francis Xavier, who went out into the Indies to do mission work. Thérèse never left their convent. She has been declared a Doctor of the Church even though she had never written a theological tract. She is considered a mystic and her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, has inspired countless people to live good and saintly lives. Her little way is indeed simple, “Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.” And she sees the great significance of small things even in the most trivial occurrences:
“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily
do not rob the little violet of its scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.
If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” .