Our Lady's Little Scribe seeks to use the internet for sharing the Catholic faith and Franciscan spirituality, going from Gospel to life and life to the Gospel.

The silk painting, shown above, is by Ty Mam Duw, Poor Clare Colettines, Hawarden, WALES GB. Their website is here. Ty Mam Duw is Welsh and means The House of the Mother of God. Our Lady of the Pearl cherishes their friendship and is grateful for their many kindnesses and prayers. The image is used with permission.

Entertaining Angels

Entertaining Angels
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm Proud To Be An American

Feast Day of St. Thomas More
June 22, 2009

Come go with me, as I share my journal of this day's thoughts, all sparked by watching the video of the homecoming of an American soldier who gave his life for his country. As the mind goes here and there, especially when inspired by the nobility of others, so shall we go here and there, if you will go with me.


I have been reading an assortment of books this year. Recently I read Render Unto Caesar (Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life) by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap (the second Native American to be ordained bishop in the United States). What a great book! In fact, this book is so good, I have begun reading it again. It is a power-packed mini-course in American history, politics, citizenship and constitutional law and suitable for all people of Christian faith.

Our country has a monumental heritage! How tragic and how dangerous that studies show that Americans have a poor sense of our history. America was born Protestant, not a secular state. If we cut God out of our public life, we also cut the foundation out from under our national ideals. Being ignorant of our history, probably many are surprised to learn that the common metaphor "separation of church and state" is not found in our Constitution but was coined in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802, when he was trying to calm their fears. The metaphor was used exclusively to keep the state out of the church's business, not the other way around.

Being good students of the 50's, many of us know that the First Amendment's religion clause merely states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It bars any official federal religion. Think Church of England. In addition, at the time of the framing of the Constitution and the First Amendment, various states had tax-supported established churches and wanted to keep them. Some continued to support their churches for decades after the Constitution took effect. The "establishment clause" does not and cannot mean for religious believers and communities to be silent in public affairs.

As to being silent, did you know that tolerance is not a Christian virtue and that tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil? (Examples of Christian virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope and charity.) Christians should not be silent in the public square about serious matters because of some misguided sense of good manners. Convictions should be expressed peacefully, legally and respectfully.


I'm writing this on the feast day of St. Thomas More, June 22, 2009. Perhaps you have seen the movie about him, "A Man For All Seasons." I have a copy which my husband and I watched this year. More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children and chancellor of England. He was an intensely spiritual man, devoted to prayer and penance. He believed that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the Church. It cost him his life. He did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants. He was beheaded on Tower Hill, London, July 6, 1535, when he refused to approve Henry VIII's divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England.


Going on to the next books I am reading this year, as always, I have a book nearby on St. Francis. One of the good biographies is The Perfect Joy of Saint Francis by Felix Timmermans. St. Francis who impacted the social, economic, political, military and religious forces of his day - St. Francis who saw the imprint of God upon all creation and was an environmentalist long before the term was used - St. Francis who reached out to the Muslim world in respect and to the lepers in love and care - St. Francis who gave up everything to become everything. Second only to Jesus Christ, no other individual has ever made such a positive influence on the Church and the world we live in. He could change our world as he did his own.


At the moment, I am reading The Longest Day (The Classic Epic of D-Day, June 6, 1944) by Cornelius Ryan. What tragedy and sorrow there is in these pages for humankind and the loss of lives. Again I am reminded of St. Francis and that he wanted to become a knight during his youth. He could relate to our fallen warriors. In fact he participated in one of the bloodiest battles of his time when he was 20 years old in the year 1202. The war was between Perugia and Assisi.

The Battle of Collestrada that November was a massacre. The hills were covered in blood. Assisi was beaten. The slaughter was great. Assisi was appalled, and everywhere there was weeping and mourning for those who were lost – the brightest and the best, the old and the young, the noble and the common. Many from Assisi were taken prisoner, including Francis. He was released after about a year and was sick for a very long time. All in all, he was one of the lucky ones as he came home alive.


Today I watched the video of the homecoming of Staff Sgt. John Beale to Georgia. I wept. (Mary Jane Kelly Heisterkamp, who sent me the link to the video, was fortunate in that she was present to see his homecoming and the tribute made.) War is not good. But I was proud too as I watched. I was proud to be an American. The video exhibited some of the best traits of this country, often found in small towns of mostly simple folk, but no less so in our cities. As I finished watching, I thought a while and then began writing here, in this stream of consciousness, to conclude that each generation stands at the crossroads and must choose its path. Let us "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls'." (Jeremiah 6:16).
For myself, I am
  • a member of a family
  • a Catholic
  • a Franciscan
  • an American

and though family, Church, Order and Country have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, I am not ashamed for God is love and I am his child, walking down the ancient paths.


Barb, sfo said...

Thanks for recommending RENDER UNTO CAESAR. Amazingly, my library has it--so I'll be picking it up soon.

Little Scribe said...

It is a great book - very informative. I hope you enjoy and learn much.