Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"..true patriotism rejects all forms of immorality, for it is sin and escalating crime that render a nation miserable."

Father Vincent P. Miceli, in his essay entitled "The Virtue of Patriotism," explains that, "..the virtue which renders citizens loyal to the God-given institution of the state and courageous in working for its goal of the common good is the virtue of patriotism.  This special virtue arises from the virtue known as pietas or piety.  Piety pays homage and duty to God as the supreme source and sustainer of one's being; it pays homage and duty to one's parents as the source of one's individual being and nourishment; it also pays loving homage to a person's fatherland with all his fellow citizens as the source and sustainer of man's civic and social perfection.  In public, political life, the virtue of piety becomes the virtue of patriotism.  For patriotism is the love and devotion to one's country, to one's countrymen as members of the same social and political family.  Patriotism, in the sense of man's love for his civic community, is also a duty flowing from an intelligent recognition and moral acceptance of the very form of man's creation.  Having created Adam as a solitary individual, God immediately announced the fact of man's incompleteness in himself: 'It is not good for man to be alone.'  Then in creating Eve, God confirmed the truth that the human family, the civic family must become the social source and necessary community milieu from which each person may attain both individual and social maturity...

Thus patriotism is a special form of love of one's fatherland, a preferential love arising from man's first supreme love for God the omnipotent author and finisher of his being and personhood.  Patriotism, therefore, can be defined descriptively as the reverent, grateful acknowledgement of one's fatherland as it is expressed in history; it is a response of loyal love to one's fellow citizens and the land in which one's countrymen live and work together for a common good founded on justice and fraternal brotherhood.  It is a special form of piety binding citizens to their historical and cultural sources.  But patriotism must arise from and function on a profoundly moral basis.  'It is never lawful, or even wise, to disassociate morality from the affairs of practical life.'  In the last analysis, then, patriotism, which is founded on zealous, reverential love of God and countrymen, functions on justice, a justice inflamed with a love that exalts a nation.  Consequently, true patriotism rejects all forms of immorality, for it is sin and escalating crime that render a nation miserable."

This truth is ratified in Proverbs 14:34: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."

Samuel Johnson called patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel.  Pat Buchanan has said that "It is also the first refuge of many without faith."  But authentic patriotism, which is the proper response to value, is a response of loyal love to one's countrymen which is expressed in the desire to work together for the common good.

In an address given to the Catholic Conference on Industrial Relations in Portland, Oregon on October 5, 1954, the first Bishop of the Worcester Diocese, John J. Wright, explained to those present that, "..the common good is all the heritage from the past and all the hope for the future which good men share under God. Common to many, it is therefore public; perfective of the individual, it remains somehow personal. It calls the individual out of himself to share things with the general community, but it puts the resources of the general community at the service of the things closest to the personality of the individual. That is what Cicero meant when he defined the common good, the res publica, in terms of a nation's altars and hearths, of the spiritual and domestic values which center about these and which serve personality: 'in aris et focis est res publica.' It was out of this concept of the common good that our forefathers derived their notion of the great object of the State's existence.

Hence their fine phrase the common weal, a phrase perpetuated in the name by which they designated this civil community, not by the cold collective name so dear to the totalitarian, The State, nor with any name of special interest or partisan emphasis as The Duchy or The Realm, but The Commonwealth, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is the concept behind warm words like mutual in the preambles of our national and state Constitutions, as that of my own state which provides 'that all shall be governed by certain laws for the common good.'...

The common good: it is the mutual bond of all who love the good, the true, and the beautiful; who seek good things, not evil; who seek the private good of persons and the collective good of the State, but the good of both in and under and through the Supreme Good, which is God. It is the good which God gives us all in order to keep us together, as opposed to the good that He gives us each to keep to ourselves. It is the good before which, on due occasion, both individual and State are obliged to bow: the common good...

Such an appreciation of the common good which unites, as against - or, rather, as above all particular or factional or partisan goods which divide - would make possible the Vital Center for which certain political philosophers are pleading; a Vital Center which can exist only when honorable moderates of Right and Left prefer working with each other in behalf of the common good to working with extremists of their own respective camps, extremists who seek only the particular good after which their side aspires..."

Our nation is so divided and fragmenting more and more with each passing day because it has opted for sin.  We have forgotten that the Common Good, the good which God gives us all in order to keep us together, is, as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily."  And we can only find this fulfillment in and under God.

Because so many have now opted for sin and have a special and unnatural hatred of God as the Author of their being, our nation's fabric is coming apart.  As Fr. Miceli explains, "All apostates, all heretics betray their religious families.  They introduce disunity, disorder, disaster among the brethren.  They create divided communities, houses that cannot stand, that hasten towards a fall and utter collapse."  The same is true of social and political communities, where political rogues run towards wicked deeds and are intent only on pursuing their own selfish interests as opposed to working for the common good.

If America is to be great again, it must return to God.  It must renounce sin.  At the moment, there is much hostility in this country towards faith.  Pope Benedict XVI, on Good Friday 2009, deplored the secularization of the West, saying that, "Everything in public life risks being desacralized: persons, places, pledges, prayers, practices, words, sacred writings, religious formulae, symbols, ceremonies.."

The glue which held our nation together, faith in God, is being eroded.  At the beginning of my Senior year in High School, the decision was made to drop the Pledge of Allegiance.  But seven students out of a student body of 2,000 (and I was one of them) would still stand up every morning, place our hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge:

 I pledge allegiance to the Flag
 of the United States of America,
 and to the Republic for which it stands:
 one Nation under God, indivisible,
 With Liberty and Justice for all.

I still recite the Pledge daily.  Some will accuse me of being "corny."  Of engaging in mere sentimentality.  But I will continue to defend faith and morality and an authentic patriotism which is rooted in love of God and one's fatherland and which expresses itself in zeal for the common good.

Related posts: Respect for the flag and military families as second-class citizens.


ACatholicinClinton said...

Jesus said that, "You will be hated by all on account of me" (John 10: 22). Archbishop Sheen said, "The acceptance of the fullness of Truth will have the unfortunate quality of making you hated by the world. Forget for a moment the history of Christianity, and the fact that Christ existed. Suppose there appeared in this world today a man who claimed to be Divine Truth; and who did not say, 'I will teach you Truth,' but 'I am the Truth.' Suppose he gave evidence by his works of the truth of his statement. Knowing ourselves as we do, with our tendency to relativism, to indifference, and to the fusing of right and wrong, how do you suppose we would react to that Divine Truth? With hatred, with obloquy, with defiance; with charges of intolerance, narrow-mindedness, bigotry, and crucifixion. That is what happened to Christ. That is what our Lord said would happen to those who accept His Truth."

That's why you're not welcome in the Diocese of Worcester Paul. Because you accept the fullness of truth.

If you dissented from Church teaching or condoned homosexuality or other vices, you would be most welcome I'm sure. Stacy Trasancos says the Church's teaching on women priests may remain unsettled and she is not only welcome but given a column in the diocesan newspaper. But at what price?

Because you are a cradle Catholic who doesn't water down Church teaching, you will never be accepted here. But you will be accepted by God.

Thanks for this great post. And you're right. Our country is disintegrating.

HolyCross2012 said...

We are suffering from an appalling lack of leadership in this local Church. This, combined with the numerous scandals such as Fr. Lowe Dongor fleeing the country on child-pornography charges and others such as Fr. James Aquino committing lewd and indecent acts in public and being arrested in Las Vegas or appropriating parish funds, has only served to cripple the reputation and credibility of the diocese.

When I go to Mass, I don't see any young people. And that is extremely disturbing.

Stephen Ferrin said...

James Bryce said that "Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong."

America is collapsing because Americans are no longer united. What united us was our religious faith. That was the impetus for our patriotism.

Now it's everyone for himself. We used to care for one another. Now Americans have lost their love for one another. And a house divided will fall.

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