Saint Benedict Center's main site is An online Journal edited by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Richmond, New Hampshire.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Virtue of Patriotism

By Brother Francis Maluf, M.I.C.M.
Editor: The following edited extract is taken from one of Brother Francis’ Sunday talks. We are grateful again to Sister Anna Maria, from the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary community in Vienna, Ohio, for transcribing the lecture.

Patriotism ― We love this country. We are grateful for being in this country. Some of us were born here; some of us are glad to have been brought here. No matter how we got here, as far as being able to work for the Faith, I don’t know any country more favorable. As far as having people with good will that could at least be talked to about the Faith, I don’t know where in the world you could find better folk than you do in this country.

I used to say to Father Leonard and to Sister Catherine, and they always agreed with me, that I don’t know any other country in the world where we could have done what we did here. Of course, we had corrupt courts. Of course, occasionally, we had to deal with tyrannical men in power. Of course, we had lots of persecutions and injustices done to us, but substantially, tell me any other country where we could have gone on for forty years, affirming a most unpopular doctrine ― and still be able to go on.

[Editor’s Note: Today, as the political climate descends further and further in its commitment to exalt secularism and moral degeneracy, and the freedom to preach the truth in America seems about to be legally extinguished, I fear Voltaire’s proscription for the ultimate utopian Masonic state, as outlined in his Social Contract, may soon come to pass: “Let him who says that there is no salvation outside the Church be cast out of the state.” The political situation in America (as in Europe) has gotten a lot worse since Brother Francis said these things.]

Now don’t take these liberties for granted. They are ours because there was some goodness, let it be just natural goodness, in some of the men who founded this country and gave it its ideals and its Constitution. We ought to thank God for that. That’s true patriotism, and patriotism is part of the virtue of religion. The virtue of patriotism includes an active participation in whatever good we can support in the large society in which we live. We should support those running for office who are committed to protecting the just ideals found in the Constitution and to defending the country against subversion and betrayal and treason.

These are all social duties, and they are essential for the promotion of the principles of the natural law. They are not the complete picture, of course, but they are a very essential part of that complete picture. And they can never be ignored with impunity.

Americanism — The fact that Pope Leo XIII, in the 1890s, called the prominent liberal heresies of separation of Church and State, religious individualism, and religious egalitarianism, Americanism (Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, 1898) ought to be a little challenge to us. We ought to face the fact — and learn a lesson from it as good Catholics — that the Church in America, in some very serious way, has been responsible for this liberal defection from the challenge of the unadulterated Faith, a defection that we see all around us.

Americanismus is a very correct way to name it. You cannot call it French; you cannot call it English; you cannot call it Chinese. It is American ― this whole idea of one religion being as good as another. “The things on which we agree are vastly more important than the things on which we differ.” The principles that Archbishop Cushing and other Americanist clergy gave in the 1940s, and even more stridently in the 1950s and 60s, became the only dogma for ambitious Catholic politicians: “We cannot inflict our conscience on anybody else.” “My Faith will not affect my politics,” etc., etc. They tell me there are any number of Catholics now in the Congress who say, “Oh, I am personally opposed to abortion, but I have no right to inflict my conscience on anybody else.”

So they are against abortion, but they vote for every measure that encourages it. And they’re betraying, through their votes, other moral values as well, through government programs that aid and abet the corruption of youth by way of sex education subsidies and socialist economic policies. This moral relativism, of divorcing right conscience from politics, started mainly here, at least as a powerful force, right here in America; it’s because of the tremendous, paramount influence of America that it has progressed elsewhere. Doctrinal liberalism, even if it seemed to come from radical theologians from Germany, France, or Holland who had a direct influence at Vatican II, was still the American heresy. And it is with us in a far more pervasive degree today. The reason is that, for generations, nothing was done by the American hierarchy to extirpate it; in fact they began to call it “the phantom heresy.” So let this be a challenge to us.

American foreign aid programs fuel many tyrannical regimes with their proliferation of weapons of mass murder. Immodest fashions, at least on the scale of mass production, mostly originated here. Hollywood hedonistic movies and other media of pornography originated here and they are a huge affliction on other countries and whole continents.

We know people who are going to extremes about that, to the point of being unpatriotic, cynical, negative, and ineffective. This was never the spirit of the Center and it will never be. Even though we know that many of our founding fathers were bigots and very wrong religiously, we also thank God that they did have certain natural virtues, and they did have some good ethical principles, and we do not need to be absolutely negative in our appreciation of American history.

I had the privilege this year to teach a whole course in American History, and I am very happy I did it. I can speak now with more confidence. There are some good American principles that should be defended, should be rediscovered, and should be re-affirmed. America can be converted on its own principles. A man who said this very strongly in the last century was Orestes Brownson. He was very critical of the false principles that were gradually creeping into the American Republic, the unconstitutional expansion of centralized government over States’ rights for one thing, but he also was very proud and patriotic. He was glad to employ in his own apostolic work the many positive elements that patriotic Catholics could utilize from our own Constitution as a basis for bringing the complete truth to the nation. In fact, one of his best books, The American Republic and Its Constitution, was written for the instruction of Catholics concerning government in general, its human origins, and concerning the Constitution.

[Editor: I highly recommend Brother Thomas Mary Sennott’s book, They Fought the Good Fight, which juxtaposes the lives and teachings of Brownson and Father Feeney, two of the most valiant defenders of the defined dogma: Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. Brother Thomas Mary’s book can be purchased from our bookstore at Brownson had a strong conviction, as well, that our republican form of government absolutely needed the Catholic Faith to sustain it for any long period of endurance. Without the Faith, he believed, the republic would eventually fail. He wrote a treatise on the subject, which was titled: “The Catholic Faith Is Necessary to Sustain Popular Liberty.”]

Brother Francis loved his own native country of Lebanon. He lived part of his life there — before coming to America, in 1939, at the age of twenty-six — under the yoke of foreign occupiers, first the Turks, then the French. He was very active in working towards Lebanon’s cherished independence, or any other Arab nation’s, from those who would colonize them. He was the Vice-President of the Syrian National Party, which had as its main objective the establishment of a federated republic of Arab nations, compromising what the Arabs called the “fertile crescent.” I remember him explaining how even Lebanon, in the 1930s, was threatened by Communism and that protection from this menace was another reason behind the platform of a united Syrian Republic of nation states. Brother appreciated the freedom that all nationalities had in the United States, a freedom that Catholic Americans had fought hard to achieve. He believed that, despite its imperfections, without the Constitution, Catholics would have had a far more difficult time achieving their religious and civil rights in these United States. So, he was grateful. He was grateful for whatever good that he was the recipient of, natural as well as supernatural, natural justice as well as supernatural justice, which latter is the grace we call “holiness.”

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