God or Country / God and Country
I asked our group this question, which of these two statements most adequately expresses how you think Catholics actually act?
- I am a citizen of theUnited Stateswho happens to be a Christian.
- I am a Christian who happens to be a citizen of theUnited States.
Which of these two statements reflect your own position? My question might have been understood differently by some members of the group. The outcome though was that eleven members selected the first statement as expressing not what Catholics that they know think but how they act; while four selected the second statement.
Once again the comments were revealing.
Tim shared how he went back and forth as he attempted to apply the two statements to himself. He loves his country and has been taught from his earliest age to put God first. For him this choice is a struggle. I was taken by the fact that Tim acknowledged the struggle involved. That seemed genuine to me. What matters from my point of view is the very fact of the struggle. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with patriotism unless patriotism takes the place of God. Then we have lost both God and Country. But to make those choices in the concrete is a struggle.
Ken said that this struggle is clear when it comes time to vote. The teachings of the Church are clear on some points but there are others things that affect our country. And to evaluate a particular candidate or issue is complex and he is not always sure what the right thing to do is.
For Heber it was clear to him that going through RCIA had definitely changed his perspective. Before that experience he would have clearly chosen the first statement but after that experience and attendance at these scripture gatherings he has changed and would choose the second statement.
Jodie observed how the group talked in terms of “should” but thought that how we actually act doesn’t always match the “should.” In fact, she though that it was not possible to be a perfect Christian and a citizen of theUnited States.
Mark brought up the conflict between personal decisions and social decisions, especially concerning war. Should I as a Christian become a solider? Be trained to kill? But should our country not have an army? What are we to do? And if you are responsible for our country, say like the President, and as President you are a Christian, what are you to do? What do you think he should do?
The greatest thing is the very fact that a group of adults can have an open and honest discussion of what are important, passionate and complex matters? Doesn’t that attract you? You can join us on line or every Sunday at St. Anthony All Saints from 9:15 – 10:45. You would be more than welcomed.