For The Fallen

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord
and may the perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.



The Catholic Virtue of Patriotism

Something to think about on Memorial Day and on Independence Day:

Written by Msgr Stuart Swetland
Tuesday, 07 April 2009 00:12
The following article is an excerpt from a talk entitled “the Catholic virtue of Patriotism” by Msgr Stuart Swetland. A Navy Academy graduate with a degree in physics, he went on to be a Rhodes Scholar in 1981 and converted to Catholicism while studying at politics, economics and philosophy at Oxford. He currently serves at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD as Director of  Homiletics and Pre-Theology. Patriotism and the proper relationship with our nation with the people, with the state, is included in the fourth commandment to honor your father and mother. There are natural societies- God-created societies- that every person belongs to or ought to. Those three are the family, the Church, and the state. That collective people that I belong to- that we sing in the Marian hymn- is “the land of our birth”. We ought to live in right relationship- in harmony- in the communities to which we belong: family, Church, and state.

And there are those who are appropriately given the responsibility for the common good of those societies that we belong to and we should honor them in their roles. We should honor our bishop for his role in the Church. We should honor our mother and father because of their parental role in the family. And we should honor those who have been entrusted with authority from God and Romans 13 makes that clear.

The authority does not come from a social contract. It does not come from some relationship we decide on. The authority of those placed in political leadership comes from God and what we are to have vis a vis those who are over us is this respect or honor. In other words, we should afford to those who have a father-like role towards us that devotion that loving children that honor and respect (which also means obedience) that a loving child, a good child, a holy child ought to give to their father.

This is why it is not inappropriate to speak of your nation as your Fatherland. And the term patriotism actually comes from that root- the idea of our Patria, our Father- in Greek patras. It’s the same in the Greek and the Latin, the idea that there is this paternal relationship between our bishop and us and the Church, between our government officials and us, and our parents and our family.

The reality is that patriotism is a virtue and it means that we have an appropriate honor that we give to our country. And because it is a virtue, it stands between two extremes. The person who does not love his country, is the person we usually call unpatriotic. He’s not willing to pay his taxes, he’s not willing to serve on a jury, he’s not willing to go out and vote. He’s not willing to fulfill his duties that are his as a citizen and that makes him unpatriotic. He doesn’t love his country, he just loves himself and therefore he lacks in the proper love of others as lived out in the social community.

The person who has too much patriotism is that person who is beyond patriotic and becomes a nationalist rogue, or a bigot, or someone who is like “my country, may she always be right but right or wrong, my country.” That idea is “America first” and everything – whatever other country and everything- that kind of person usually goes by different names, and I usually refer to it- as it usually dissolves into some kind of bigotry- as some kind of nationalist bigot. That’s the extreme.

Between those is the virtue, somewhere in the middle, where we have an appropriate love of our nation. And an appropriate love of our nation is this: that we want to see it flourish. We want to see our nation flourish. We want to see the common good pursued and obtained and the common good is the sum total of all the conditions necessary for each and every member of the society to flourish as a human persons. And we should be pursuing the common good as a community. Our goal should always be we achieve the common good as best we can for our people- the true common good. Not some kind of false goods that we might pursue because they selfishly are things we want right now. For example, there are some that might want to see porn easily and readily available.

Back in the mid 90s the porn industry outstripped major league baseball. The joke was we have a new American pastime. Last time we did this work- middle of this decade- the revenues outstripped major league baseball, basketball, football, hockey soccer, ABC, NBC, CBS all together. So much so that when the stimulus bill was being pitched, Larry Flint made a pitch for them to bail out the porn industry that had fallen on hard time and he asked 40 billion. It’s a major industry in CA. A major industry.

Do you know what the biggest cash crop is in California? Marijuana. The biggest cash crop in California is marijuana, an illegal substance sold under the table with no taxes, no regulations, no gov’t involvement other than trying to catch the people which are obviously very bad. So I’m not talking about the marijuana industry flourishing or the porn industry flourishing as if that would serve the common good, but the true Common Good of America. And the true common good of America would be a place where there would be no porn because there is no good use of pornography. It has no social redeeming value, so we don’t want to see that flourish. We’re talking about the true common good.

So a patriot is a man or woman who is interested in seeing the true common good of the society and doing everything that he or she can to help bring about that true common good. The Catholic vision of patriotism and the virtue of patriotism is a group of people who understand- with each individual in that group understanding- what the true common good is for their nation and our attempting together to achieve that with whatever means available to them and their vocation. And that’s what some of the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs are trying to get to today.

“The love and service of one’s country follows from the duty of gratitude and belongs to the order of charity.”


“The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.”

I am told that these appeared Church bulletins or in announcements:

* * *

The sermon this morning: ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus.’
* * *
Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
* * *
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.
* * *
Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.
* * *
Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
* * *
For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
* * *
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
* * *
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
* * *
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
* * *
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.
* * *
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
* * *
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
* * *


Photo Caption Contest II

The challenge is to write a pithy, humorous, one-sentence caption for the photo. The writer of the best caption will receive a hand-made Rosary. Your proposed caption should be shared in the comments. The goal is lightheartedness and fun, but not disrespect. Disrespectful captions won’t be published. This contest closes at 11:59 P.M. on June 5th.

(photo credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)


Justice and Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

–John 13:34-35.

Sometimes, it is important to get back to first principles. For all people, Christ’s “new command” is the fundamental principle of our existence. We are called to love “as I have loved you.” In other words, we are called to a Divine love.

What we know of Divine love is daunting. We know that His love proceeds from an “infinitely intense life: a life of infinite truth comprehended and infinite goodness wholly embraced.” Confraternity of the Precious Blood,My Way of Life, p. 29. This love is “roaring flame warming all of the halls of eternity.” Id. This love continues even when spurned:

Love cannot be forced, nor will it use violence; in His image, He made us free and His love refuses to take back any of that original gift, refuses to violate our freedom. If we love Him, we do so freely, for love is a gift or it is nothing.

Id. at 30. That love also compels us to return His love with our love. “It would be a poor kind of love that made us in His image and left us nothing to do ourselves; it is a divine love that sets out a man’s work for a man’s life and stands by a man’s own decisions.” Again, this is how Christ loves us and the measure of whether we love “as I have loved you.”

Justice is love’s minimum demand. As My Way of Life summarizes:

An unjust lover is as impossible as a vicious saint. How can we lay claim to the name of love if we will not give this dear one what is his due? Love’s fortifications tumble in ruins when injustice breaches any part of them. While it is true that justice may endure for some time without love, not a single stone of love’s mansion can be raised without the solid rock of justice as its foundation. The soft sand of sentimentality or of passion can shift in a moment to an unfairness that totally undermines love’s whole-hearted dedication to the happiness of another. It is not a reflection on God’s eager love of men but rather a defense of it to insist that “God is just and loves justice.”

If justice is love’s minimum demand and its solid foundation, we should see it in terms of som of love’s allure, a precious thing calling forth our heart’s loyalty and a strong refuge against the threats levelled against love. . . Love and justice are not implacable enemies but inseparable friends.

If we love one another as God has loved us, seeking justice is not optional. Calling it “economic” or anything else does not change the command — “love one another as I have loved you.” Seeking justice through love is essential: by seeking justice, we expand our hearts more and more to the divine life that is the infinitely fervent love that we seek. By seeking justice, we also expand our ability to understand the bits of divine life that God’s gives to us as guidance.

The Bishop’s statement of principles provides that guidance. But, sadly, the terms and the way of thinking have been taken over by secular ideologies that seek to build a perfect world cut-off from God and therefore from the source of life. Many of these secular ideologies either through sentimentality or, worse, through a will to power, betray justice because they reject God will and its only command – to return His love with our love.

As forcefully stated in the comments to the Bishop’s statement, there is only one justice. And there is only one justice because there is only one love.

Hebrew Catholics?

Can a person be both “Hebrew” and “Catholic” and, if so, what would that person’s faith look like? Would he or she bring new and interesting insights into the truths of our faith? The Association of Hebrew Catholics answers the first question with a firm yes and give us a picture of what the practice of that faith looks like.

According to its website (linked above), “the AHC is a voluntary association of Catholics of both Jewish and non-Jewish origins.” It “seeks to help preserve the corporate identity and heritage of the People Israel within the Church. By gathering the Jews who have entered the Church, we hope to help them rekindle and live out their collective vocation, giving corporate witness to Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and His Church. We hope, as well, to help the Church prepare for the day when the Lord will gather and unite all peoples to Himself, hastening the day when all Israel will proclaim “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

Their website contains some fascinating material. My favorite item is the prayers of the Rosary in Hebrew. For example, this is the Hail Mary:

Shalom lakh Miryam habtulah hakdoshah m’leah
khesed. Elohim imekh. At m’vorekhet beyn kol
hanashim u’pri betenekh, Yeshua m’vorakh.

Miryam hakdoshah, eym Ha’Elohim, tiptalli
bishvileynu akshav u’bsha’ah hamavteynu.


The other prayers are there, too.

Visiting the AHC website would also be valuable because of the resources it provides about Catholic-Jewish relations. St. John’s Gospel has many particularly challenging passages in this respect; the Gospel is even more theologically challenging as Christ reinterprets Jewish liturgical practice in light of Himself. AHC brings together resources for working through what has been a long and terrible history. It is definitely worth taking some time to check AHC out.


Mary . . . Do We Need A Mother? — Monthly Reflections for Men – June 2, 2010

Jun 2 Monthly Reflections for Men

Mary…Do We Need a Mother?

Make the most out of your relationship with your Mother, Mary! Don’t miss the next installment of the 2010 series of Monthly Reflections, featuring Fr. John Hopkins.

Each session includes:
Mass, guided meditations, opportunities for confession and a meal.

Suggested Donation:
A free will offering of $10 is suggested to help us cover the cost of the meal and to enable us to present these and other programs in the future

Time: 7:00 to 9:00 P.M.

Location: Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center