Today is National Religious Freedom Day. It’s a day that remembers the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Statute of Religious Freedom in 1786. The statute became the foundation for the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution, establishing freedom of religion for all Americans. In authoring the statute, Jefferson wrote: “… all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion …”
In celebration of National Religious Freedom Day, we’re finding inspiration in a unifying prayer from the pope’s environmental encyclical, Laudato Si. It’s titled, “A Prayer for Our Earth.”
A PRAYER FOR OUR EARTH
Excerpt from Laudato Si
By Pope Francis
You are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See Laudato Si by Pope Francis
Some more inspirational nuggets for today:
- Today marks the beginning of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. It started with a bombing campaign by a U.S.-led coalition. But it was triggered by Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait in August the year before. Over a period of 42 days, the coalition flew 100,000 sorties, dropping more than 88,000 tons of munition on military and civilian targets. The entire conflict carried religious overtones, with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein casting it as a religious war, and U.S. president, the elder George Bush casting it as a battle between good and evil. The conflict ended in a ceasefire on February 28 and resulted in Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait. But both Hussein — and the religious sentiments it ignited — remained intact.
- Today is the birthday of the American actor, singer and playwright, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Born in 1980, Miranda is best known for the musical, Hamilton. He came up with the idea for Hamilton on vacation, while he was reading a biography of Alexander Hamilton. Seven years later, the show premiered off-Broadway at New York’s The Public Theater. It sold out. Although Miranda was raised Catholic, he doesn’t consider himself particularly religious — even though his work frequently touches on religious themes. In an interview in 2016, Miranda said:
“I don’t go to church, but at the same time religion keeps popping up in my work. You know? I’m not religious … but Hamilton really leaned on religion during some of the trauma of his later years. So that’s my answer. I don’t consider myself religious, but at the same time it keeps popping up on me.”
You’re in good company, Lin. It keeps popping up on all of us.
That’s today’s spiritual almanac — thanks for listening. If you liked what you heard today and you’re listening to the audio version of today’s episode, we’d love it if you subscribed and gave our podcast a good rating. If you’re watching this on YouTube, we’d love it if you subscribed and hit like.
For additional reading, check out the rest of Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. There’s a link above.
Be kind, take good care and we’ll see you soon.