“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:13-14).
Every year our great country celebrates the day the thirteen original colonies declared themselves free from the rule of Britain’s King George III. On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and on July 4th, delegates from the thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson. Independence Day became a federal holiday in 1941, commemorating America’s birthday. Today many Americans celebrate the Fourth of July with trips to the beach, family gatherings and barbecues, pool parties, fireworks and parades. While Independence Day is a time for joyful red, white and blue celebrations and a day off from work, we should not lose sight of what we’re celebrating.
In line with the Judeo Christian values upon which our unique country was founded, the Declaration of Independence states, “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.” In the United States, we believe that all people are created by God with equal moral value. In America, people are judged for what they do, not for what they were born. We are the fairest society in the world, where equality is of the utmost importance. This makes the United States of America so special.
While our Founding Fathers sought to separate church from state, they wisely acknowledged God as the source of our rights. Our founding documents and laws were imbued with biblical morality to prevent tyranny or totalitarianism. The moral values instilled throughout our founding principles and culture, in combination with laws based on reason and common sense, have created a country where liberty and justice are rights for all citizens.
The members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia want to ensure that everyone is treated equally as sons and daughters of God in one big human family. We are one community, and need to look out for one another. The St. Vincent de Paul Society works to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether feeding them, sheltering them, or providing comfort in times of despair. They seek to make sure that our brothers and sisters in Christ have their basic needs met while being loved and respected. We all need to support one another, in the good times and bad. As Jesus taught to his followers, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Philadelphia has many ways, customized to each local community for you to transform the lives of your neighbors as well as your own life, including through participation and building up the community. Like that of its founder, blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the vision of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “is to embrace the world in a network of charity.”