I both love and hate when American civil holidays intersect with the Church's calendar. I love reminding people that July 4 is the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Portugal. I love telling people in Confession that they didn't have to confess they missed Mass on Thanksgiving Day. I hate having the fight with musicians who want to play patriotic music as a hymn on Memorial Day or Veterans Day weekend (even though the actual day we celebrate it is not the Saturday night or Sunday in question). My most favorite moment was a year July 4 fell on a Saturday, and so Independence Day was "celebrated" on Monday, July 6. I was preparing for daily Mass on the Feast of St. Maria Goretti, when the parish organist came into the sacristy, telling me they would be playing for the Mass, "Because I always play on the 4th of July." I told them I'm not celebrating the 4th of July today (right about now I noticed the organist's red, white, and blue couture); I did that on the past Saturday, and that I was celebrating the Feast of St. Maria Goretti. In short, I was celebrating July 6 on July 6.
But I digress. What I love, when American civil holidays come, is to give a quick reminder of the Catholic roots of United States History. I like to remind people about how the full name of Christopher Columbus' third ship was "Santa Maria de Immaculada Concepcion", and the role of a Priest, Fr. Juan Perez, in introducing Columbus to the Spanish Royals. I love to talk about the influence of St. Robert Bellarmine on the thinking of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. But, above all, I love telling the story of the first explorers of America, largely Catholic, and the remnants of their explorations.
Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles brought this to light as part of a speech he game recently titled, Immigration and the Next America: Perspectives From Our History. You can read it by clicking HERE; The history part starts on page 2 of the speech.