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Maureen Adams on Confronting Tyranny: He Will Lead Us Now

By Maureen Adams
January 14th, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

History records that Patrick Henry did not hesitate to invoke "God Almighty" that day, or any day. As a matter of fact, there is no record of any Founders avoiding theological allusions or concepts in their writing and their speeches. Of course, they were not envisioning the combined power of the Church and the state as in the Europe left behind. But they did consider faith as an aid to reason, to citizenship, an encouragement of virtue, and the cultivation of wisdom. They viewed the Christian faith as under-girding and infusing the state - and it worked - at least until now.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (Catholic Online) - It was March 1775 and it was cold.  At St. John's Church in Richmond the members of the 2nd Virginia Convention were listening to the now-famous oratory of Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty or give me death!"

History records that Patrick Henry did not hesitate to invoke "God Almighty" that day, or any day. As a matter of fact, there is no record of any Founders avoiding theological allusions or concepts in their writing and their speeches. Of course, they were not envisioning the combined power of the Church and the state as in the Europe left behind. But they did consider faith as an aid to reason, to citizenship, an encouragement of virtue, and the cultivation of wisdom. They viewed the Christian faith as under-girding and infusing the state - and it worked - at least until now.

It was 1775, the eve of the great revolution, we, the people, a believing, but vulnerable, group of colonists without a military force to speak of, were declaring war on the most powerful nation in the world. "God Almighty" was surely the right person to call upon.

Sitting in St John's Church in Richmond, one can still imagine the vibrato voice of Henry posing the challenging King George III, "Give me liberty or give me death" and issuing  a call to arm the Virginia militia. Patrick Henry succeeded in convincing those Virginians gathered to be armed, that life under the tyranny of a British King was so unimaginable that death in battle was a preferable fate.

Tyranny in any age is an abuse of state power. At this very moment in history, each day brings another public protest against the abuse of power of our own President and Congress. Patrick Henry and the Founding Fathers literally risked their lives to pursue the rather novel concept of liberty and freedom for all mankind, not just a ruling class. Why aren't we speaking to our President and Congress as plainly as Patrick Henry did in Richmond that day?

The ultimate challenge to power  - "Give me liberty or give me death" -  never arises from the midst of the compromising and deal-making. Sit in the House or the Senate and you will hear no comparable voice, no comparable offer of personal sacrifice; rather the consensus of our lawmakers seems to be, "Give up your liberty." 

What a difference between then and now!  The members of the 113th Congress fight for their "own" freedoms, exempting themselves and a few friends from the laws they originated, but don't like. Where are the Patrick Henry's of today, who will fight for the liberties and freedom for mankind? Where are the once public and fearless men crying out to "God Almighty"?  They are here but they are not heard, or even acknowledged, by those who rule. 

It's nearly February, 2014 and much of the United States is cold, some states historically so. The citizenry has no Patrick Henry to rally them in their discontent - they are weary and some are losing hope for the future. In the absence of great orators and political leaders, American citizens should remember the message from on high, and I am not referring to Washington D.C. It's a message of hope, that liberty will once again prevail. First, we should all be reminded of what the Psalmist wrote (146.3), "Do not put your trust in princes, in a son of man in whom there is no help."

There is One who offers help. From the same Word we hear from the prophet Jeremiah (29.11), "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope.  When you go to pray to me, I will listen to you."

Just as He lead the Founders in 1776, He will lead us now. 

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Maureen Adams, a former small business owner for 30 years, resides in  Scottsdale, AZ and is a member of St. Timothy's Catholic Church.  A bibliophile and music enthusiast, Maureen is a member of Legatus and has served on dozens of Diocesan and community boards over the past 25 years.

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