Sign Up for our Free Daily Email Updates / Catholic Spiritual Direction

A Declaration of Dependence

July 4, 2016 by  
Filed under Dr. Peter Howard, Family, Following Christ, God

A Declaration of Dependence

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

~ John Adams, 2nd President of the United States

Happy 4th of July, fellow Americans!

DetailOfBishopFultonJSheen1956Recently, I spoke at a diocesan event in the heart of Fulton Sheen land, Peoria, Illinois. One of the talks was on Fulton Sheen’s Way to Happiness. At first hearing, the title might sound so generic and unappealing. But, the reality is, as Fulton Sheen saw in his time and prophetically in ours, we live in an extremely unhappy world. We are surrounded by discontent. Why? Well, as Sheen put it, those who are discontent on the inside spread discontent on the outside. Put another way by Sheen: “Those who are not at war with themselves are at war with everybody else.”

Today, Americans celebrate independence from the crown of England. The spirit behind that desire for independence is captured in one line that stands out from our Declaration of Independence: “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

ModifiedDetailPopeBenedictXVIOnce applied to the American colonies wanting separation from England, now we find the entire western world waking up to such abuses and usurpations, but on a far greater scale — which is evident for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Moreover, they are even more dangerous today because the world has embraced what Pope Benedict XVI declared a “dictatorship of relativism,” where those words of the Declaration of Independence have loss their objective meaning. Satan has twisted the meaning of words so that “despotism” means that what was once (and is always) good is now oppressive. So the masses will say, “Yeah, let’s get rid of our government and form a new one that is not oppressive, patriarchal and anti-‘choice’, and eliminates the sexual difference, etc.”

EuropeanUnionMap.svgSo, here we are. Western nations are declaring their own independence from unelected, oligarchical regimes, which is most recently seen in the historical “Brexit” as the first among the dominoes to fall. Much like the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet Union, we are now witnessing the beginning of the end the European Union experiment. And like any divorce, we can expect it to be messy. The people of England want the freedom to govern themselves, to have their own border, their own culture.

Why are all these experiments failing and why is America at the threshold of its own implosion? I believe the American prophet for our times, Fulton Sheen provides the answer — back in the early 1940s:

The means of life no longer minister to peace and order because we have perverted and forgotten the true ends of life . . . Now the basic reason why our economics and politics have failed as a means to peace is that both have forgotten the end and purpose of life. We have been living as if civilization, culture and peace were by-products of economic activity, instead of the other way round, so that economics and politics are subordinated to the moral and the spiritual . . . It is not our politics that has soured, nor our economics that have rusted; it is our hearts. We live and act as if God had never made us. (Sheen, Philosophies at War)

So, the biggest question America, and the West, have to answer when they ponder all of these declarations of independence is not so much what they want to be free from, but what they are free for. Otherwise, any declarations of independence are inevitably declarations of a worse slavery to come.

And if we want to “make America great again” as we hear in slogans today, we have to understand what real greatness is built upon. Real greatness is found when man is refashioned not only into God’s image (which is being twisted through all the gender ideology) but especially into God’s likeness, which is His glory! And God’s glory, which as the Catechism teaches us, is “the Holy Spirit, who is the giver of life.”

GlaskolbenLaboratoryGlasswareIn other words, a civilization is as free as it lives a true life in the Holy Spirit, the life-giving, self-sacrificing Love of the Father and the Son. And America and the West have chosen a path for centuries that has moved them away from living in God’s glory, instead choosing the counterfeit lie of the serpent who tells man, “We don’t need God, we just need ‘science’” (scientia, from which the word “knowledge” is derived), which we can discover on our own — where the more we advance in science, the more “we will be like gods knowing good and evil.” Now just reflect a moment on the rapid scientific advancements that have been made since the world make a conscious decision to reject God and absolutize the human intellect as the source of enlightenment. Where has that path taken us? Not to love, not to life, not to peace, not to freedom.

Now the world is waking up to this king of all lies and is recognizing the slavery that comes with accepting them. However, it has abandoned God, so where do we turn to rebuild?

If we want to make room once again for God in our hearts, in our families, in our nations and in the world, we have to tear down the false towers we have built via our egos and our pride, and rebuild a new civilization that has a firm foundation in humility. As Fulton Sheen said (in 1953!):

“The higher the building the deeper the foundation; the greater the moral heights to which we aspire the greater the humility. . . . Modern man has been humiliated: neither his proud expectations of progress nor of science have turned out as he hoped. Yet he has not quite reached the point of humbling himself. He is still imprisoned in the self, and able to see nothing else beyond. The psychoanalyst may be allowed to bore into his thoughts for a few years more; but the time is not far off when modern men will utter a frantic appeal to God to lift them from the empty cistern of their own egos.” (Sheen, Way to Happiness)

I invite all Americans and nations of Europe — any and all nations who truly want freedom — especially all who have deep Catholic roots, let us begin to rebuild this collapsing world order with the foundation of humility and do so one family at a time. We need God to deliver us from the mess we created. May our conversations not be so much about what we want to be free from, but what we are free for. May our efforts stem not from what can we do with the advancements of science and technology, but what we ought to do.

(SuiveurDe)FollowerOfIlSassoferratoViergeEnPriereIt does not take a PhD in history and economics to see that we are in for very trying days in the months and years ahead as we witness the collapse of the failed culture of death and slavery. But we Christians rejoice when the world announces new “dark ages”, because this is where the Church shines — when she has the courage to let her light illumine the darkness. This is what Our Blessed Mother and all the saintly popes of the last 200 years have been preparing us for. Even Sheen shared these sentiments when he said: “Times are bad!! They have never been worse; for never before has a world civilization turned against the Divine Light.” In nearly the same breath, he is quick to reassure us, “Our greatest days are ahead!” and “we are living on the eve of one of the great spiritual revivals of human history.” May it begin not with a declaration of independence, but a declaration of dependence, dependence on the love, the mercy, the providence and the Glory of God!

With the tremendous blessing of the pontificate of St. John Paul II and his successors, I venture to say the 21st century is that century. We are here.

O Mary, the Immaculate Conception, Our Life, Our Sweetness and Our HOPE, patroness of the United States, pray for us!


Dr. Howard is now booking speaking engagements around the country for fall 2016 and 2017. If you want to bring his powerful message of hope to families in your parish, conference, retreat or event, contact Dr. Howard today through Peter provides dynamic speaking events on how to awaken our families and get them on the heroic path to happiness and healing, aiming high for their purpose in life and living it with trust, courage and passion. Dr. Howard is also a sought-out speaker on topics related to Our Blessed Mother and Venerable Fulton J. Sheen — especially the importance of understanding Mary’s apparitions in the modern world and how critically important it is to consecrate our families to her Immaculate Heart. Book your event today by visiting




Art: Detail of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, New York. Sheen had a radio and television program called Life Is Worth Living which aired from 1951 to 1957, 23 October 1956, ABC Radio, PD-US; Modified detail Pope Benedict XVI during general audience, 2 May 2007, PD-Worldwide; European Union Map, author unknown, own work assumed, 5 September 2007, PD-Worldwide; Glaskolben für die Chemie (Chemical Flasks), grimbart, 12 July 2004, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported; Vierge en prière (Virgin in Prayer), follower of Il Sassoferrato, end of 17th century to beginning of 18th century, CCA-SA 4.0 International; all Wikimedia Commons. Heroic Families Logo, used with permission, all rights reserved.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Peter Howard

Dr. Peter Howard presently lives in Illinois with his wife, Chantal, and five children. Dr. Howard is a professor of Theology at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation ( In 2015, Peter and Chantal founded dedicated to the mission of “awakening Catholic families to their critical call to live their faith with courage, passion and purpose.” He is also a Catholic videographer (, author and national Catholic speaker who has spoken at the 2015 American Chesterton Society Conference, 2012 Midwest Catholic Family Conference in Wichita, Kansas; the United States Air Force Academy; parish retreats and on Catholic radio programs such as Radio Maria. Peter earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas [Angelicum] in Rome, Italy. Dr. Howard's theological expertise lies predominantly in Mariology and the teachings of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. He is the author of the 2014 book: The Woman: The Mystery of Mary as Mediatrix in the Teaching of Fulton J. Sheen. Like his spiritual mentor, +Fulton Sheen, Dr. Howard is passionate about evangelizing families by communicating the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith as the answer to the challenges and errors of the world. If you would like to invite Dr. Howard to speak at your parish or event, contact him at

please consider supporting our mission with a donation!

  • jmjriz

    A message for our times. Isn’t it lamentable that as you read this you are already beginning to forget the important salient points that were made by Dr. Howard.

    My heart tells me that I must print this out and read it often, but will I make it a priority in my life and family? Isn’t it doomed by its very media (internet) to a very short half-life? I am one click away from forgetting it.

    And as good as another apostolate seems to be relative to what ails the Church, don’t these noble efforts also tend to compartmentalize us laity by the very fact that we become associated with this or that cause to the exclusion of others that appeal to us and are also worthy of our support end our very limited time.

    I tend to think we must simplify things and become like children to become more like our God. We need innocence and a simple life filled with creative wonder. We need three haloed words…light, life, love. If we get these three right then we have a fighting chance. Being Catholic with a capital C for Christ-like should be enough.

    • LizEst

      The Holy Spirit brings these apostolates out at the appropriate time in Church history. That’s why we have Franciscans, Jesuits, Carmelites, Benedictines, the Missionaries of Charity, etc. Today, there is a great need for an apostolate to the family, which is the Domestic Church.

      • jmjriz

        Liz I belong to the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity and for the past 18 years I have witnessed the laity in our “society of apostolic life” fail to witness discipleship of Jesus through Mary because of our inability to form family ecclesial teams with our priests and religious. SOLT is sorely needed in this world of broken relationships, but we are broken too.

        My comment wasn’t against Dr. Howards’ Heroic Families, but rather how it relates to many, many lay-based apostolates that are being formed and the unintended consequences of this phenomenon.

  • Gregory

    Thank you for taking time to write this Dr. Howard, and for the closing invocation too. I ask also “Bishop Sheen, please pray for us.”

  • DianeVa

    Pope Francis and the Church, in response to the inspiration given by the Holy Spirit, in declaring a Jubilee Year of Mercy, has read the writing on the wall and is preparing us to become beacons of light in the darkness of our world. Now is the time for the baptized in Christ to truely witness to the Truth. Come Holy Spirit come and fill us with your gift of fortitude.

  • Judy Silhan

    Powerful reflection, Dr. Howard. Thank you. I am actually going make copies and take them to Mass this morning and pass them out.

  • Robert Halny

    Excuse me, but who is “we” in this article? And how are “we” to dialog with “them” who have hijacked everything that is moral, religious, ethical, and common sense in the past decade or so? The words of President Adams are very strong, true and prophetic today. Today absolute power requires absolute arrogance and schizophrenic psyche. Perhaps “we” are the people who stand behind this monstrosity and clap like the Soviet politburo mannequins whenever the “clap” sign comes on. So today we celebrate Independence Day from England. Perhaps for England today, it is a great opportunity to reflect on America and ask what happens when one wants to be independent. Freedom happens, and when the freedom is responsible, anything is possible. I wish the Brits who are frightened to take a leap of faith, like America did, and move on and drop the shackles of the satanic EU. God will bless England as He blessed America. But they have to turn back to God in this hour, or they will simply perish.

  • Monica

    We need to hear this! May God bless you for sharing this message with us and give us the courage to share in our families and communities. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Archbishop Venerable Fulton Sheen, pray for us.

  • marybernadette

    ‘I believe it was Pope Emeritus Benedict who pleaded with those who were forming the EU, to not divorce themselves from their ‘Judeo-Christian’ Heritage, because that’s exactly what they built their ‘tower of sand’ on, declaring ‘independence’ from this ‘Truth’ an ‘illusion’ right there. I am originally from Scotland, now living in Canada and read about Scotland not wanting to leave, I assume the majority of Scots. Britain once was ‘Great Britain’ blessed by the Lord, built on strong Judeo-Christian Roots. We know, of course, as with the rest of Europe (Catholic Christians and others in the minority) that this is no longer the case. ‘Brexit’ has sewn rotten seeds so far, as there has been a rise in ‘racial prejudice, e.g. with the Polish Community, so we will have to see what unfolds in the future. Regarding the teaching on getting back to ‘Humility’ who we are and who God Is, Venerable Fulton Sheen, Dr.Peter Kreeft also has a great teaching pertaining to this : “Weakness into Strength’ Google same title and Peter Kreeft.

Skip to toolbar