King, Country, & a la Carte Catholicism

Today’s readings:

I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority.
Isaiah 22:19-21a
I joined the Holy Name Society a couple of weeks ago. Actually, I had quite the week: joining Holy Name, Angelic Warfare, and the Rosary Confraternities. As all three of those societies are under the O.P. it was a Dominican Trifecta! 
The Holy Name Society, though, was a bit of a surprise to me. Here’s a part of the Holy Name Society pledge:

In honor of His Divine Name
I pledge myself against perjury,
Blasphemy, profanity and obscene speech.
I pledge my loyalty
To the flag of my country.
And to the God given principles
Of freedom, justice and happiness.
For which it stands.
I pledge my support
To all lawful authority
Both civil and religious.

Adopted in 1937, we were not really fighting anyone yet, neither communists or fascists. But we (Catholics) were dealing with a lot hate-filled sentiment that imagined we were out to try to get the Pope to rule the nation. We were happy to even promise that was not the case.

Even today, however, the Catechism of the Church teaches, The authority required by the moral order derives from God: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (❡1899) And again, “God’s fourth commandment also enjoins us to honor all who for our good have received authority in society from God.” (2234)

Once upon a time President G. W. Bush claimed God put him in office. This is true. It is equally true of Mr Obama. And Mr Trump. God’s providential mercy has left us here on purpose. We don’t get the leaders we deserve, because God is merciful. We get the leaders we need to work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

A lot (a majority?) of us want peace, stability, equality, liberty, and fraternity. God wants us saved.

So we Catholics honor the leaders God gave us.

But what about when they are idiots?

Well, we got, really, only two choices. The commandment is clear: Honor the idiot anyway because God said so.

And there’s the entirety of today’s reading from Romans:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Elsewhere St Paul says, “All things work for our good.” So, mindful he was saying that under Nero the Nutty, I think we’re in good shape to be saying the same thing under Our Orange Mr Bultitude.  We just don’t know how. And we have to admit that we don’t know. We have to trust that, like in Isaiah’s text, God’s totally got this. “I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.” When we pray, we can be heard. Plus we have another leader. If the Church is the Kingdom of God, by which template all earthly kingdoms are judged, then we have a leader above all other leaders, one we should follow no matter what.

But we don’t like to, do we?

On the left are those who reject the Church’s teaching on Sex, on the right those who reject the Church’s teachings on economy. Avarice (greed) is a much a sin as Lust and usury will damn you near as quick as fornication. What are we to do when our political choices are between the forces of Amoral Economic Justice with Lust, or Sexual Purity with Amoral Greed?

We must live our lives secure in our faith: those who pick one side over the other, giving up half the goods offered us by God, have already lost the struggle.

And so we come in the Gospel to our Foundation.

Tu es Petros.
Hier stehe ich.

Author: Huw Richardson

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He has worked in tech (mostly) since 1999 and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.