One of the prominent symbols of our country is that of the Statue of Liberty which welcomes newcomers to the promise of this great nation. Referred to as Lady Liberty, she holds a torch in her uplifted right hand and on her left arm a tablet proclaiming the date of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. On the pedestal of Lady Liberty is a plaque proclaiming her greeting, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
During these most difficult days when the Statue of Liberty has to be closed to visitors due to the coronavirus, when the sin of racism once again shows its ugly face within our nation, when the sin of violence shows its equally ugly face and attacks the lives of free citizens, when it is difficult to discern the truth, upon which our nation was founded, from the politics that masks itself as truth, when there is so much frustration, disappointment, pain, isolation and disquiet, and when statues and monuments, long part of our nation’s history, are being taken down due to the failures of whom they represent, Lady Liberty stands firm upon our shores. She reminds us of who we are as Americans and from where we have come.
As we celebrate the Fourth of July during this difficult time, there is another lady to whom we look and to whom we pray. She stands above all others as Our Lady of Liberty - Our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. Mary reminds us of what the true meaning of liberation is all about and that is freedom from sin. She turns us to her Son who came to give us the truth that will set us free (cf. Jn 8:31). Mary lived the freedom of Jesus perfectly and, as the perfect human being in whom we can never be disappointed, shows us the way to true freedom.
Just two weeks ago on the Memorial Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Pope Francis added three new invocations to the Litany of Our Lady of Loreto. They are, “Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope, Solace of Migrants.” The Pope specifically did so in response to the present time marked by such feelings of uncertainty and trepidation and in light of the faithful’s constant recourse to Our Blessed Mother through the centuries. How fitting that these new titles for Mary come at the same time we celebrate the Fourth of July within our nation which so much now needs mercy, hope and solace which are the very foundation of its existence.
As we celebrate the birth of our great nation and look to the Statue of Liberty, we especially look to Our Lady of Liberty knowing that she will give us freedom through the truth of her Son, Jesus, who sets us free from sin, pain and all disappointment. Our Lady stands upon the pedestal of her Son’s words spoken to all of us but lived perfectly by her, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and lean from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt. 11:28-30).
God bless America! Our lady of Liberty – pray for us!
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
July 3, 2020