Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Sunday Within the Octave of the Sacred Heart—3 July A.D. 2011

On Patriotism
Justice, Religion, Piety, Patriotism.


[ Ordinary of the Mass ]
[ English Text ]
[ Latin Text ]
[Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus]

    Just the day our July Bulletin was printed I received a message from Archbishop Humphreys, asking me to say a few words about patriotism during this weekend of American Independence.  He sent what he had published in his parish Bulletin, so I would like to read you the applicable parts:

    “If you are a good Catholic, you cannot help but be a good American.” (Cmdr. John J. Shea)   Sunday will usher in something of a beginning of our Fourth of July observance.   We are concerned about a steadily growing LACK of patriotism in this country.  Our government seems to discourage it – if not, prohibit it, in certain areas; certain media black it out; our schools tend to ignore it; and the “man on the street” just forgets about it.  But there is building in our nation a strong movement to “TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY.”  We might just as well get on the band wagon right here at (OLGH) Our Lady of the Rosary.  Miss Liberty must always welcome immigrants to our shores, but such people are EXPECTED to come here seeking naturalization.  That very word denotes becoming one of those who are here, one of US – (U.S.), if you will.  It does not connote one’s bringing his flag here, or his form of government and/or a religion imposed by government; or a myriad of mores and social customs inconsistent with those that have been a part of our land since its inception.  It means becoming AMERICAN, pledging allegiance to one’s newly chosen nation, a country wishing to make good immigrants “one of us.”  No others should apply to come here; no others should be invited here!  [At Our Lady of Good Hope] our music Sunday will include “This is My Country,” “The Cross and the Flag,” “God bless America.”  Sing them proudly!  We mean no offense to anyone.  Anyone who is offended is not in America for the right reasons.

    Now, if anyone is wondering why the church is concerned with a lack of patriotism, let me explain that patriotism is a religious obligation.  Saint Thomas Aquinas, in analyzing the virtue of justice tells us that religion is part of justice, and piety is part of religion, and patriotism is part of piety.  In describing piety, he says:

    Man becomes a debtor to other men in various ways, according to their various excellence, and the various benefits received from them.  On both counts God holds the first place, for He is supremely excellent, and for us He is the first principle of being and government.  In the second place the principles of our being and government are our parents and our country, that have given us birth and nourishment....  Wherefore, just as it belongs to religion to give worship to God, so does it belong to piety, in the second place, to give worship to one’s parents and one’s country.[1]

    Justice, religion, piety, patriotism.

    Now the idea of “worshipping” one’s country and parents may sound a bit medieval (Saint Thomas wrote in the thirteenth century), but it simply means fulfilling our responsibilities to them, as he says, “according to their various excellence, and the various benefits received from them.”  Civilized people recognize God’s “excellence,” and by analogy, recognize a similar but lesser “excellence” in their parents and relatives, and in their nation.  Modernism has eroded some of this, and many people today are oblivious to the concepts of speaking and dressing and acting with respect for our elders and for those in authority, and even for God.  Nonetheless, such respect remains as a duty of religion.

    The religious duty also arises, Saint Thomas says, from “the various benefits received from them.”  We owe our parents not only respect, but also aid in their material necessities, for they have given us both life and nourishment and the basics of our character.  In somewhat the same way, we must acknowledge an obligation to the civil society in which we live.  For government has a legitimate function in providing for the common defense, and at the lower levels in making sure that the amenities of civilized society are available to its citizens.  That usually includes police and fire protection, the administration of legal justice, provision of roads, clean water and sewage, and maybe some recreational facilities.  All of these things might be provided by free enterprise or by citizen-volunteers banding together, but tend to get taken over by government in the more urban areas.  (Digging your own well and maintaining your own outhouse become problematic on a quarter-acre lot, or in an apartment building!)  Properly run, government is supposed to make life a little more bearable for its citizens, and for this we owe it respect and support.

    Now, I know that many of you can recite a litany of things which seem to diminish the respect and support due to our government as it actually exists:  taxes are high, jobs are scarce, production is fleeing the country, prices are going up, medical care and retirement plans seem threatened, we are engaged in at least three wars on three different fronts, and everyone is worried about it getting worse—perhaps much worse.

    And, for the most part, even the few politicians who seem to understand the nation’s problems are reluctant to act in any really substantive way.  If our national debt is measured in tens of trillions, it is useless to talk about cutting millions or even billions from our budget.  If we have regulated the finance and health care industries into wastefulness and fraud, it makes no sense to propose even more regulation.  If there are no jobs it makes no sense to tax and over-regulate those who would provide them.  If prices are going up it makes no sense to print more money, and drive them up even faster.

    The current administration may have to accept a good deal of the blame for all of this, but the problem goes back a century and a half or thereabouts, and the blame sharing has to be bipartisan.  The Constitution guarantees “a Republican form of government.”[2]  That doesn’t mean the “Republican Party” gets to run things—it means that we are guaranteed a representative government. We are a Republic.   But representative government requires a great deal of vigilance on the part of all citizens.  Someone asked one of the Founding Fathers what sort of government the new Constitution gave us.  His answer was “A republic, if you can keep it.”  A republic requires citizens who know what their government is supposed to do, who know what it is actually doing, and who will keep representatives who do the wrong thing in real fear for their jobs.

    Justice, religion, piety, patriotism—this is a religious duty!

    Everyone who is registered to vote in Florida (and perhaps other States) has signed an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States....”  An oath!  Perhaps a year ago, one of our parishioners passed out pocket sized copies of the Constitution—we can order more if anyone needs one.  One cannot know what the government is supposed to do without a working knowledge of the Constitution—and it is of virtually no use to have read it back in fifth grade and never since—think of this as a religious duty—justice, religion, piety, patriotism.

    Once one knows what the government is supposed to do, one must determine whether or not it is doing what it is supposed to do.  Where you get your news is important here.  By “news” I don’t mean the celebrity gossip or the ball scores.  And you cannot just watch NBC and read The New York Times to be informed.  Find alternative news sources in magazines and on the Internet—after a few years you will know which ones have a good “track record” for reporting the pertinent truth.

    But even if you do sit down with The New York Times or The Sun-Sentinel make a point of asking yourself: “Where in the Constitution did the government get the power to do the things I just read about?”  Now, I am not asking you whether or not you like what you read about the government doing, but whether or not the action was authorized by the Supreme Law of the Land.  We have an obligation in justice to object, even to things we personally like, if they violate the law and the interests of other citizens.  We must resist the temptation to approve of those things which bring us some personal benefit if they violate the Supreme Law.  Thomas Jefferson once said:

    I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

    Finally, this virtue of piety obliges us to be vocal when our representatives fail (or announce their intent to fail) us.  The individual politicians and the national parties must know that those representatives who do a good job will receive our votes and maybe even some financial assistance—but those who fail us will be turned out of office and replaced.  Write letters, sign petitions, and join organizations which advocate lawful government.

    Ultimately patriotism consists of loving one’s country and fellow citizens—not about hating anyone else.  It is not about waving the flag when government acts unfairly to other peoples or nations, or to groups within our own nation.  It is about taking part in the Republic “to promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,”  in a Republic that holds it “self-evident, that all men are created equal ... endowed by their Creator with ... unalienable Rights... Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  “Unalienable Rights” which cannot be taken away or regulated away or taxed away from men by any authority less than God their Creator.

    These United States constitute the greatest nation in the world.  Justice, religion, piety, patriotism.  We might reflect briefly on the sentiments of the men who declared these States “Free and Independent”:

    [F]or the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

    “And our sacred Honor!”  Pray God that we can find men and women of this sort of character today to represent us in our Republic.  Justice, religion, piety, patriotism.  May God bless America!



I urge you to join me tomorrow, July fourth,
Independence Day, for the 8:00 AM Mass, which we will offer for the Republic.


[1]   Summa Theologica, IIa-IIæ, Q.101, a.1.

[2]   Constitution,  Article IV, section 4.




Dei via est íntegra
Our Lady of the Rosary, 144 North Federal Highway (US#1), Deerfield Beach, Florida 33441  954+428-2428
Authentic  Catholic Mass, Doctrine, and Moral Teaching -- Don't do without them -- 
Don't accept one without the others!