14th Sunday of Ordinary Time–7/4/16

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity.

 

Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

 

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

 

These words, written in 1796, are from George Washington’s Farewell Address. I think they make it pretty clear that our Founding Fathers, at least THIS Founding Father had some definite ideas about the place of religion in our new nation. “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” Somehow, in the last 240 years, our politicians have forgotten these words, or at the most, just pay lip service to them.

 

“In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.” In other words, don’t tell me you’re a patriot and then subvert the firmest props of citizenship. You can’t be a patriot and be immoral at the same time. It’s been proven time and time again that democracy won’t work if citizens aren’t moral. We all depend on one another. This is especially true of our so-called leaders. Notice Washington uses the phrase “mere politicians”. Like most of his peers in the 18th Century, George was a humble man. Today’s politicians….not so much.

 

“And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.” I had a conversation with someone this week who said he has no religious principles. I asked him if he agreed with the statement “Thou shalt not kill” and he said “yes”. I pointed out that that’s a religious principle. He may not belong to a church, but he has religious principles in spite of himself. Our entire system of laws is based on religious principles. We get in trouble when we forget that and pass immoral laws. Washington warned us about that but we seem to have forgotten it.

 

“It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

 

In this election year we all have to make some serious choices. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, we have to chose the lesser of two evils and it’s not always easy to tell who that is. From our First President who chose to step down because he didn’t believe any one man was more important than either the office or the citizens he served, to our present crop of politicians who all seem to think that they’re above the rest of us, our country has deteriorated. Neither one of our presumptive presidential candidates seems to have a religious affiliation.

 

Our religious rights are being constantly challenged and being a Christian is often looked down upon. Just this week the Supreme Court made yet another pro-abortion ruling. A transgender flag flies over our Saint Louis City Hall. I can’t even imagine what the response would be to a “Catholic Pride” parade downtown.

 

But this is a weekend to celebrate. For all our faults, the United States is still the greatest nation on earth. And you and I are Catholic Christians. That’s who we are and what we are. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” This world is only temporary. We’re just passing through. Nothing that happens in this life can hurt me because Jesus Christ has died for my sins. “From now on, let no one make troubles for me, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.”

 

So, enjoy the picnics and the ball games and the fireworks. Give thanks for all the good gifts that God has given us. Pray for those who are less fortunate than we are. And remember Jesus’ words to the Disciples in today’s Gospel: “Into whatever house you enter, first say ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.” It’s a win-win.

 

Happy Independence Day and Peace be with you!

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