March 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 8

Editorial – Obligation To Church And Country

By Rev. Mark Connolly

Photo of a statue outside the United States capital building

One of the great tragedies taking place in our political system today is the partisanship that is taking place both in the Congress and the Senate. Democrats vote oftentimes in a constant block and Republicans vote the same. As a result, there is stalemate, there is an impasse and so much that could be done is not done. Then we hear about the influence of the lobbyist working both sides of the aisle to try to get their own preferential projects passed through the Congress and the Senate. We sit back and say all politicians are crooked, they are all the same and the feeling I can do nothing influences our every day way of living. If you go back to the last Presidential election, with all the publicity that was given to get the vote out for those people between the ages of 18 and 26, in our Democratic country, only 17% of those young people voted. When you look at the voting that took place in Iraq that has been bombed, and bombed, and bombed, over 70% of the people in that country voted to start the Democratic process.

There comes a time in the life of every American Catholic that in addition to his family he has an obligation to his Church and to his country. If the American Catholic just constantly stays in the background with carping criticism and does nothing when it comes to voting or writing his Congressman or Senator when some sort of adverse bill is passed then the slogan is very true, you get what you vote for and if you don't vote, if you don't show any interest, than you have no one to blame but yourself for your passive attitude. If the American Catholic citizen who was told by Christ to render to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and still remains passive and almost indifferent, then when you start to criticize the fact that some of our great American traditions are being attacked, some of our great American institutions are now faltering, and you and I sit back and do nothing, again, you have no one to blame but yourself.

In the last Presidential address, the President mentioned that we, as a nation, were becoming addicted to oil. He did not mention the word sacrifice, but when it comes to really being a good American Catholic Citizen, our faith and our Church teaches us the value of sacrifice based on the fact that this season of Lent reminds us that Christ went through an agony, a scourging, a crowning and a crucifixion for each one of us. That was his way of teaching us the value and importance of sacrifice. For our American Catholic Church and our great United States, each one has to initiate those personal sacrifices that are going to be beneficial to both the Church and our country. What is the great sacrifice that God asks us to make during this season of Lent to remind ourselves of our spiritual relationship with our own Church? Is it too much of a sacrifice to say an extra prayer for our troops who are in Iraq and all over the world defending our country? Is it too much of a sacrifice to go to Mass during Lent on the weekdays just to keep in mind the goodness that God has given to each one of us concerning all of the gifts we have received form him during the course of our lives? What sacrifice are we making for our country if those driving 65 mph go to 55 mph? Just think of how many lives you can save just by doing this one small sacrifice. When you think of all we can do on our own to help our Church and help our country; that is the challenge God has given to us during this season of Lent.

Oh yes, we can all sit back after we read this and we are not going to have any more degree of involvement in our political process. We can all roll our eyes and clench our hands and say nothing is going to change. We have the examples in our own lifetime of Rosa Parks who started the civil rights movement in her own limited way. We have the lesson of Candy Lightner who started Mothers Against Drunk Driving which saves the lives of hundreds of people on the highway. We have the life of Martin Luther King who did so much for the cause of justice and equality. They were all individual people who were convinced that they could effect changes by just reaching out to get involved. It is too bad we do not have more people like them. To each one during this season of Lent it is a great season to indulge in self motivation as to what you can do for your Church and what you can do for your country. Concerning those who stay passive and stay indifferent and do not do anything but criticize, as good Christians we have to repeat what Christ said centuries ago, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". Our Catholic Church, our country, needs your help and involvement. Don't abandon them.