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July 6, 2008

"Blessed are the people whose God is the FrgeorgeLord; Our soul waits for the Lord;He is our help and our shield."

Psalm 33:12 & 20
 
Friday was Independence Day. Were it not for the advertisements of endless Business Establishments, this great Day would pass by practically unnoticed. Our Commercial establishments have taken over and have substituted all our National and Religious Holidays. I always mention this, as often as we have National Holidays, to keep us more conscious of of the spirit of these Holy Days, which made our Country great, and afforded us so many blessings, we so much take for granted.

Independence Day is to our Nation, what the Day of Pentecost is to the Christians. Therefore, we the Orthodox who are more traditional, should strive to keep alive in our hearts and minds those ideals that gave us a Great Nation, and a Religion which came straight from the Lord through His Holy Apostles.

Well over a generation ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated: "Maybe our Country needs to recapture the pride of its earlier years!" That simply means that the President was concerned, seeing the conditions in his time, when he compared it to the earlier years. I wonder if he was with us today, what his observation would be?Yes, the current or tide is very swift and strong. But that doesn't mean that we should compromise our ideals and principles. That is a treasure, which no one can take away from us!

As Americans we should stand firm to our eternal ideals and values, and refuse to submit to the average saying: "Well, everyone is doing it, etc." I never forgot a saying of the world famous Bishop Fulton Sheen, when he declared: "that wrong is wrong, even if the whole world is wrong, and right is right, even if one person in the world is right!" I think that all of us could easily agree on that most powerful teaching.

That is why, it is so important to remember, that God gave us a free will, and it is up to us to make the proper choices, which will always keep us on the right side of the fence.

We are Americans with honest pride and humility. Let us be proud of our Forefathers, who set forth the Independence of these United States. They were spiritually powerful, being immersed in the eternal Christianity and blessed by God, they gave us the Constitution, which guarantees the inalienable rights of every citizen.

I wonder if our Forefathers were with us today, what their reaction would be, seeing our morally devoid politicians securing their positions, by voting for many anti-Christian laws, which I would surmise they probably wouldn't condone in their own homes.

They've chased God away from our schools and institutions, claiming the separation of Church and State. But this doesn't mean that God should be ostracized. This is a Nation founded with liberty under God, without espousing any particular Religion.

But the extremists, not a majority, have succeeded in abolishing prayer in the classroom, where many students had a single opportunity to learn, that there is a God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Perhaps the darkest day in our Greatr Country was when Madelyn O'Hare, an avowed atheist, took her case of the separation of Church and State to the Supreme Court, and through this action, God became an undesirable Person in the Classroom, and school prayer was abolished. That's when the rolling coaster of our Country commenced its downward plunge, and our Country has been reaping the harvest of immorality and lawlessness.

This was a condemnable action, because if a vote was taken in our Country, God would still be alive in the classroom and the abominable acts of our youth would be at a minimum. Now there is nothing wrong to use profanity, even if most people are offended, but one musr be careful not to mention the word God, especially in school. It is so traumatic for our Country, because school is the only place, that many of our youth even have a chance to hear about God!

I vividly remember, more vividly than my academic classes in High School, and our Assembly Meetings each morning. There was meditation and reading from the Holy Scriptures, followed by the singing of Religious Hymns. I looked forward to these. Meetings and they are vivid in my life. Our jails then were under populated, whereas now, it's a problem of overcrowding, being that they can't build jails fast enough for the over-population.

America must return to the time that there was honest pride and humility, which made our Nation, the number one Nation in the world! There was a time, when we idealized our Founding Fathers. Somehow in the name of realism we subjected them, to what could be a debunking process. This is because, we have lost our sense of values. This must be restored. We should honor our great Men, because they were the type that could be idealized.

So, let us be proud of our Forefathers; let us be proud of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and so many others. Of course they had imperfections, but nonetheless they could be idealized. Our pride in America includes the pride in her Great Men!

Let us be proud of our freedom; the freedom, which flows from our obedience to God; --- from our willing adherence to the law; --­from our discipline of self-control. People must learn, that freedom is not license. Our American freedom is a rock upon which gallant men took their stand and gave us the Declaration of Independence: ---they wrought out the Constitution of the United States --- they established a Democratic Government--- they opened up a Continent to liberty-loving people --- they built Institutions of learning and Religion, of culture and industry, and enabled everyone to move in the sphere of creativity.

Let us be proud of our achievement! America was a most blessed gift from God to all the freedom-loving people. We should always remember, to have an honest pride for our Country.

Also, we should exercise our humility. A true Patriot will bow his or her head in shame, and in true repentance. Let us repent for the inexcusable slums of our Country. It is with much pain, that we read of the degradation in sections of our National Capital, as well as in all our major Cities. We seem to have become imitators of the Priest and the Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, who hearing the groans of the wounded person, pretended not to have heard, but crossed over the other side of the road, so that they wouldn't help!

Let us repent for the rampant crime, which prevails in America. Odd as it may seem, the places where crimes are committed, do not always coincide with the slums.

Whenever people cheat and defraud, --- whether in school or shop, --- whether in games or government, where honor is sold for prestige, or power or money; -- whenever they degrade their own bodies, and defile others with lust,--- there, crime prevails!

Viewing our slum conditions and the prevalence of crime, it must be emphasized, that America needs to repent for our indifference and irresponsibility. It is a terrible thing not to care. Our challenge to save America is everywhere. Our Fathers carried America westward; we must seek to lift America upwardly. It is a condemning act to move on to the other side of the road, so as not to respond to a human need.

We have a Christian philosophy in the Holy Scriptures. America should rediscover it. There is a program to preach and teach, to heal and redeem. America should follow it.

Do we really love America? Do we really care for our fellow men? Do we truly love Christ? Then, we must follow through, with a dedicated heart, with mental and physical conviction to the needs of our fellow men in their redemption.

+ Fr. George Papadeas

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“Therefore brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our epistle.” - Thessalonians 2:15