Sunday, May 27, 2012

Being Catholic on Memorial Day Weekend


It's Memorial Day Weekend here in America. Among other things, this is the unofficial start of the summer vacation season; a time for remembrance, and a patriotic holiday.

Patriotism, Citizenship

According to a dictionary, "patriotic" means "inspired by love for your country." (Princeton's WordNet) I think it's possible to have a rational love of country, one that recognizes the faults and virtues of someone's homeland.

Another sort of 'patriotism,' one that involves hatred of folks who are different, has given the term a bad reputation in some circles. That sort of 'patriotism' is, I think, anything but rational. It's also contrary to what the Catholic Church says.

As a practicing Catholic, I'm not allowed to hate people: any people. It's simply not an option. (December 9, 2010)

On a more positive note, the Catholic Church says that I have to be a good citizen.
"It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one's country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2239)
That "submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good" does not mean that Catholics are supposed to blindly follow whatever daft order the nearest leader gives. We've got brains, and are expected to use them. (March 12, 2012)

The '60s, War, and Memorial Day

I spent my teens in the '60s, when quite a few Americans had gotten extremely upset about what was happening in Indochina. A few decades later, magazines for managers and executives used Washington's blunders in Vietnam as an example of why micromanagement is a really bad idea: and that's another topic.

Memorial Day started as a day to remember soldiers who died during the War Between the States/Civil War. The purpose and nature of the holiday has shifted since then, but the military roots remain.

When 'Being Nice' Doesn't Work

It would be nice if war never happened. Sadly, there are some folks who are very not-nice: and sometimes they decide to hurt other people on a grand scale. When that happens, the Church has guidelines for how to respond:
"The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
  • "the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • "all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • "there must be serious prospects of success;
  • "the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
"These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the 'just war' doctrine.

"The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2309)

Building a Better World

Maybe someday there will be a an "international authority with the necessary competence and power" to keep people who want to start wars from acting on that desire. (Catechism, 2308) We don't have that now, so national leaders are responsible for keeping their subjects safe.

Building a world where wars don't happen is going to take a lot of work, but I think it's worth the effort. I plan to be back tomorrow, with another post about making the world better.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.