This year (1976) I had the privilege of attending various events of the Eucharistic Congress and U.S. Bicentennial in Philadelphia. I am originally from this historic city and I have been there many times. However the events of this past year in Philadelphia left me with some interesting thoughts. I would like to share two of these thoughts with you. One is from the Eucharistic Congress and the other is from the U.S. Bicentennial. Both of these thoughts really express the same thing.
Many theatrical events were presented during the Eucharistic Congress. One of these was "A Man For All Seasons" which was presented by the Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales. This play is about the life of St.Thomas More. The play's theme is "to thine ownself be true." Thomas More became a saint because he believed in the mystery of his own freedom. He believed in freedom so much that he accepted execution rather than to submit to the unjust demands of the leader of his country. His life was an apparent failure ending in ignominy. But because he believed in the mystery of his own freedom, St. Thomas More was declared a saint.
The most outstanding attraction of the U.S. Bicentennial was the Liberty Bell which was seen and touched by millions of people in its new home on Market Street. What is the Liberty Bell? Actually it is a piece of junk- a bell that is very old and cannot ring. But why have millions of people come to see this useless mass of metal? Would they rather not see the gleaming new bell brought over by the Queen of England this year? This is a bell that works and its sounds reverberate through the streets of Philadelphia.
The Liberty Bell, like St. Thomas More, is an apparent failure but it has lived on to become a great symbol of our country. It is a bell that cannot ring yet it loudly proclaims the mystery of freedom for all human beings. The Liberty Bell, like St. Thomas More, is true to itself. It partakes in the mystery of freedom which enables it to fulfill its destiny in God's creation.
The most precious gift that you own is your freedom. It enables you to partake in God's plan as a unique individual. Live the mystery of your own freedom and you will really live!
"Philadelphia Freedom" was originally published in the November, 1976 issue of the "Savio Notes" newsletter .
© 1976-2005, James A. Petrait
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