Your Country Needs You

Last year, a Catholic deacon and his family immigrated to Miami from Venezuela. Upon their arrival, the father asked his children where they would like to go first.  We can guess at their answers: Disney World, McDonald’s, Miami Beach. Their reply: “can we please go to a grocery store?”
 
A once prosperous nation with a growing economy and standard of living for all, Venezuela now hosts a starving population. Women of dignity – mothers, teachers, engineers – now visit neighboring Columbia in order to earn enough to feed their families through prostitution.  
 
The culprit: unbridled socialism. Despite the failures of Marxism, some still believe that absolute equality and the elimination of free enterprise will sustain a nation’s people. The opposite has proven true.
 
The same can be said of unbridled capitalism. When the market and those who control it run free, it eventually produces what we in America have seen in our own history: slavery, child labor, the dictatorship of the dollar, the loss of human dignity.
 
Ultimately, any uncontrolled human theory or system will fail.
 
When the Kingdom of God enters the picture, we have a different starting place: the dignity of the individual human being as a creation of God in the image of God. This is where we begin. From there, we can address the right of all to personal safety, the dignity of adequate work, sufficient housing, nourishing food, clean water, adequate health care, freedom of religion, education, participation in governance. This could be summarized as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
 
Not long ago, a Marxist Chinese scholar was interviewed concerning what he learned about America from being here. His reply may be surprising.
 
“I had no idea how critical religion is to the functioning of democracy. The reason why democracy works is not because the government was designed to oversee what everybody does. Rather, democracy works because most people most of the time voluntarily choose to obey the law. 
 
In your past, most Americans attended a church or a synagogue every week, and they were taught there by people who they respected. Americans followed these rules because they had come to believe they were accountable to society, they were accountable to God.
 
As religion loses its influence, what will happen to democracy? Where are the institutions that are going to teach Americans that they, too, need to voluntarily choose to obey the laws? 
 
Because if you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police.”
 
Our country cannot survive without a living faith in God. Make this Lent a time to return to God in prayer, at Mass, in the sacraments, reading the Bible.
 
This is not just about getting to heaven.  Your country needs you….