Friday, July 04, 2014

Long Live the Republic!

I Love my country and often times I like it as well.  I make the distinction because a person is capable of loving something without liking it, an important distinction especially when dealing with others who we might find irritable.

England, France, Spain, Italy and other European countries rich in Catholic history are also drenched in Catholic blood, and these are not ancient memories from the days of the primitive church, but their sagas along with other nations can be found in the last few centuries.  

Why should Catholics love America?  In America as of today, it is still possible to practice our Holy Religion, unlike in China or Saudi Arabia where the Church is underground and savagely persecuted.  We can still condemn sin from the pulpit, unlike even Canada where if you condemn certain politically protected sins you might be found guilty of a hate crime. 

The right to private property, the ability to have as many children as one would like(unlike China), the right to own firearms, the right to home-school (unlike Germany), the freedom to tithe the amount you want to and to whom you want to (unlike Germany again).  These freedoms no doubt, are graces granted to us by God to do good by.  Americans may think that it is through the people that we have these freedoms  while we as Catholics know it is only through cooperation with the grace of God that we have them.

It greatly saddens me to see pro lifers, or traditional Catholics sometimes getting so caught up in the struggle for national righteousness, that they begin to hate our beloved country.  It is true that the ideas on which our nation were founded were short of the fullness of truth.  Yet, nations are made up of men and men sin and fall short of the Glory of God.  Ireland may invoke the Blessed Trinity in its constitution, yet who would dare say that their Government today is Godly. 

What if our country was worst and we enjoyed none of these freedoms?  Could we, should we still love it? Yes, we should, for the most simple reason of all.  We live here.

Even during the centuries of savage persecutions of the Roman empire did the Martyrs hate their country and there countrymen? No.  It is true they hated and spited  their “gods” or national demons, and that they refused to worship the emperor as a god.  These oppositions to evil though did not make them bitter, their Christian faith which was the contradiction to both the political and cultural life gave them the strength to suffer for their country and even at times for the benefit of the Emperors who made them suffer.

I believe St Sebastian, Captain of the Imperial Guard to the Emperor, and made defender of the Church by the Pope at that time is a most excellent example of patriotism and love of country.  St Sebastian was the captain of the guard to the notorious and savage persecutor of the Church, Diocletian.  Upon hearing that St Sebastian was a Christian he refused to believe it, as he considered the Christians to be his greatest enemies, so he summoned him and interrogated him.

Diocletian said to St Sebastian “Sebastian, I have raised thee to honor and distinction among the officers of the palace, because I looked upon thee as one of the most faithful of my friends.  Must I believe that all the while thou was an enemy of the gods, and that I entrusted my safety to one who was disloyal to me.”

To which St Sebastian responded “I have ever been faithful and loyal to you, I have constantly prayed to the God whom I worship, that he might give safety to your august person and to the Empire.  Of your idols of wood and stone I have never asked anything, knowing that they cannot give to to others what they do not possess” 

“Thou art then a Christian?” asked the Emperor

“I am a Christian such I have been from the days of my childhood, and it is for this very reason that I have always performed my duties faithfully and conscientiously”.

After giving that story St Sebastian was ordered to be put to death by being shot full of arrows.  However, after his execution he was resurrected from the Dead and confronted the emperor again, not in vengeance but in pleading during a solemn day of pagan worship.  

St Sebastian: “Harken to me, O Prince! The priests of your temples deceive you by their wicked falsehoods against the Christians.  They tell you, that we are enemies of the Empire; yet it is by your prayers that the Empire is made to prosper.  Cease your unjust persecutions against us, and remember the day of reckoning is near at hand, when you too shall be judged by an all knowing judge.”  (To hear more on the Life and Martyrdom of St Sebastian taken directly from the Acts of the Martyrs, sign up for Alleluia Audiobooks mailing list to be notified when it is available for download). 

Needless to say the Emperor did not have a change of heart, and had St Sebastian beaten to death at that point by clubs.  What tremendous loyalty this Captain of the Guard had and love this Saint had for the Emperor, and the Roman Empire!  Even after being put to death, he does not cease to excuse the tyrant, excusing his cruelty on the deceptions of pagan priests.  Can we hope to have such a burning charity for these United States of America and for our leaders?  

What a contrast of loyalty to a pagan leader to the memories of the Catholic States lead by noble kings.  Have you met a person who advocates the restoration of the monarchies of old based on these excellent memories.  I wonder how many traditional Catholics would feel about a Catholic Monarch if they wound up giving that power to a man like Prince Charles of England or even our Holy Father Pope Francis but with real Political Power.    

When we read such heroic old examples we should draw upon them and apply the examples of their virtue to our lives, and relay their stories so that other men become aware of the greatness of leadership characterized by a humble submission to God.  We should hope and labor to win over all of America  for Christ through conversion, and perfect our Government.  In the meantime we should show reverence and respect for the Laws, institutions, and customs of our nation and obey them in as far as we do not sin.  All authority, even the authority of our constitution (that makes no mention of the Holy Trinity), receives its authority from God whether it says so or not.  

The Monarchies of old are far removed from the political realities of today.  One can like the monarchs of old, as long as one remains loyal to the legitimate government now. By the ordering  of the world by God we are a republic and we should strive to serve him in the holiest way we can right now, not longing for distant governments or circumstances to come as per the warning of  St Francis De Sales.

“Do not desire faraway things, that is, things that cannot happen for a long time, as many people do, and by so doing wear out and waste their hearts to no purpose and expose themselves to the danger of becoming very discontented”  Introduction to the Devout Life.

Even if this country is becoming more hostile to Catholicism, may God preserve us my friends from becoming more hostile to it, may we find strength in the example of St Sebastian to pray for our leaders, the empire and  do our duties faithfully and conscientiously. 

Happy 4th of July, Long Live the Republic and God Bless America! 


DoubtingThomas said...

This is very good. Thank you!

Paul Goings said...

Very well said!

Eric Brooks said...

That was good to read. I think a particular difficulty with patriotism for Americans is that loyalty to America is something of an ideology- certain beliefs about the nature of society, religion, etc. When I look at other countries I can see that many of them have gone through many forms of government while still remaining one people, because they are bound by a common history. On the other hand, our country is very young and from its beginning is defined not by a common history but by agreeing to certain ideas about liberty, property, etc. In fact other states that were separate are later grafted on not through sharing a history with us, but by agreeing with our form of government. One need not be a republican to love Ireland. It seems to me that love of the United states is more or less synonymous with belief in our form of government. I'm not disagreeing with you necessarily, but I think there are reasons why patriotism is particularly difficult for Catholics in our nation. To say "I'm an American but I disagree with parts of the constitution " is a more fundamental rejection of the nation than to say "I'm English and I object to part of the modern parliamentary system." I think that's why we often get divided into camps who "hate America" or else who argue that our constitution is somehow synonymous with a Catholic view of natural and civil law (a view I hear frequently on Catholic radio.) Brownson' s The American Republic, which argues for an exceptionally view of the nation but is also very critical of the founders, of lockean liberalism, etc in th manner of modern trads, remains in my mind one of the only major works to avoid these two pitfalls.

Boniface said...

Wonderfully said...if we were to say "I love America but dislike the Constitution" it would be a sort of rejection of the country per se. As Chesterton noted, the United States is the only nation founded on a creed.