How to Celebrate the Fourth of July, Catholic-Style

With a long Fourth of July weekend upon us, you may be wondering how to combine your celebration of Independence Day with your Catholic Faith. Wonder no more. Here are three suggestions:

1.   Honor the Catholic Contribution to the Declaration of Independence. You can learn of two such contributions in Brian Burch and Emily Stimson’s wonderful book, The American Catholic Almanac.

First, Thomas Jefferson’s phrase “all men are created equal” was inspired by an Italian Catholic named Philip Mazzei who wrote to Jefferson that “all men are by nature equally free and independent.” (Come to think of it, I like Mazzei’s wording better than Jefferson’s, as it strikes me as more accurate.) The U.S. Post Office honored Mazzei in 1980 with a stamp, but you can honor him with a drink. How about a wine from Mazzei’s native Tuscany, or any wine you can find from Virginia, since it was Mazzei who “taught Virginia’s planters how to cultivate vineyards”? Quievremont wines, for example, are made in northern Virginia by the Guevremonts, a good Catholic family whose adult son I had the pleasure of meeting at the book launch for DWTS in May. Mazzei can also be toasted with London dry gin (placed, for instance, in a gin and tonic), since he was running a successful business in London when he met Benjamin Franklin and was persuaded to move to the American colonies.

Or you can honor Charles Carroll (1737–1832), the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence who also happened to be the only Catholic signatory. Carroll was not only the lone papist who signed the Declaration, he was also the wealthiest, which means that he had the most to lose in this risky political venture. There are twelve counties and two parishes in the U.S. that are named after Carroll, including Carroll County, Iowa, which recently began boasting of an Iowa Legendary Rye that hearkens back to the days of Prohibition. And if you’re feeling lucky, you can try to track down a craft beer made in a Carroll county or parish, as there surely must be some out there.

1846.2.1-Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737 - 1832), Oil on Canvas Michael Laty  (1826 - 1848), ca. 1846 Copy From Original Owned By The Maryland Historical Society. No Reproduction Without Permission

1846.2.1-Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737 – 1832), Oil on Canvas Michael Laty (1826 – 1848), ca. 1846
Copy From Original Owned By The Maryland Historical Society. No Reproduction Without Permission

2.  Honor American Saints. Let us by all means raise a glass to our Founding Fathers, but we can fill that glass with a cocktail commemorating an American Catholic saint. How about a Manhattan for Mother Cabrini, the first U.S. citizen to be canonized (page 354 of DWTS)? Or what about honoring the first native-born U.S. citizen to be canonized, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton? True, we assigned her a cocktail called the Benedict Arnold (page 386) because her family were loyalists during the Revolutionary War, but we can forgive her for her family’s politics if she can forgive us for pairing her with Benedict Arnold. Lastly, you can honor the Jesuit North American Martyrs, the first to shed their blood for the Faith on these shores, with a summer-friendly Saratoga Fizz (page 260) or a DWTS original cocktail called the Black Robe (page 261). “Black Robe” was a native American nickname for the Jesuits.

3.  Honor the Holy Popes. Huh? Honor Popes on a day when everyone else is thinking of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson or John Adams? There just so happens to be an old optional feast that falls on July 4 known as the Commemoration of All Holy Popes. By our count, 80 out of the 266 Popes in history are canonized saints, which is not too bad. Pick whatever drink you want, toast to the good leaders we have had as Americans and as Catholics, and pray to God for more.
JP II and John XXIII
Oh, and you can also sing “God Bless America” in Latin, with a translation by yours truly.

Beet Americam, amatam Deus! [the first word is pronounced BAY-et]
Teneatque, foveatque,
Per noctem in lucem supernam,
A montanis, usqu’ad prata, usqu’ad mare spumosum.
Beet Americam, dulcem Patriam!
Beet Americam, dulcem Patriam!