Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fr. Perrone: politics, patriotism, and national repentance in perspective

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, August 30, 2015)
Patriotism, like politics, is itself not a religious subject. That said, a lot of things not properly the province of religion have gotten much consideration by theologians in recent years, especially since Vatican Council II, even by the magisterium of the Church. This tendency may be an obfuscation of the Church’s defined mission which is to teach all nations the Gospel of Christ which has to do with eternal life. Today however we have become inured to statements by bishops on social issues (and even, with the pontificate of Pope Francis, on the subject of global warming). Personally, I decry this tendency, not because people of faith should not have these concerns, but because it is the duty of the laity, not the hierarchy, to apply the benefits of their received supernatural faith and bring them into the world.

Without entangling myself more in this moot subject–(kindly note, dear reader, the distinction between ‘moot,’ meaning disputed, and ‘mute,’ meaning silent–words often confounded and a source of irritation to the pastor)–I want to encourage your participation in the We Humble Ourselves event [LINK] taking place today/tomorrow at Ford Field Park in Dearborn. The free exercise of faith for everyone is a highly cherished right in this country, one that’s being challenged today by the menacing encroachments of government, notably in the pressure to strong-arm Catholics to provide contraception and abortion coverage for those employed by the Church and, even more recently, by the swell of public opinion, abetted by the Supreme Court, in favor of gay marriage to exert its force against the Church for upholding the irrevocable, God-given meaning of marriage. Even aside from these particulars, there is a generally perceived sense that our country is fast losing its distinctive American savor and is become prey to an uncharacteristic corporate mood of dejection and helplessness–not very healthy for the people of any nation.

Could the cause of this unsound spirit be a want of Christian faith in our country? Whenever any institution radically changes its original, inspiring purpose and motivation, the result is typically failure. Our country was founded on Christian principles (somewhat flawed, from a Catholic perspective as the founding fathers were not generally Christians of an orthodox kind). If those Christian basics of the USA’s foundation are undermined or jettisoned, will we then be the same thing we will have been, or will we rather not have become something else? Moreover, the removal of the basic moral underpinnings that have stabilized our country are supported and sustained by the Christian faith, now on a downward slope. We are thus finding ourselves to be in some strange land morally and spiritually, feeling the effects of the absence of God from public life. Our daily news tells the sad story.

The subtitle of this weekend’s event is Turning a Nation Back to God.’ Not a bad goal that. The premises are that God-fearing people make for a strong, safe and morally prosperous country and that our present woes are the consequence of a brash disregard for God’s laws and, indeed, for snubbing the Almighty Himself. While Catholics claim specific, effective remedies for moral troubles (Confession, the offering of the holy sacrifice of the Mass, prayers of reparation, Eucharistic adoration, recitation of the rosary, etc.), yet they ought not discount the capability and value of banding together people of diverse faiths to beseech God to turn our country around, that is, turning it towards Him. Such, I believe, is the aim of this non-sectarian event.

The displays and today’s (Sunday’s) play and concert in Dearborn will also remind attendees of our nation’s past in order to bestir us to rediscover that deep-seated patriotism that was once so characteristic of the American people. There is no cost to you (hotdogs and pies are optional and would be your only expense. Ample parking is available

As I said at the outset, patriotism may not itself be a concern of the Catholic faith in the narrow sense, but it is nevertheless a moral virtue related to justice, and it’s a partial fulfillment of the Fourth Commandment, an honoring of the fatherland. By all means, pray, and do your distinctively Catholic part to bring about a restoration of the American spirit–if for no other reason than to preserve the religious freedom that allows the free exercise of our Catholic faith. But, as an inspiring aside, you might want to join us who will be participants in the events of this weekend to renew your hope for the future welfare of the USA, for yourselves and for your children.

Fr. Perrone