Why should I be patriotic?
Each year on the last Monday of May, we honor in a special way all those who have died in active military service. These men and women throughout the history of our nation have heroically given their lives so that we could live in a nation that is free. Patriotism has long been hailed as an important Catholic virtue by which we show honor and love to our fatherland. This virtue is an overflow of the virtue of justice, by which we render to another what they deserve. However, this does not mean that we must adhere to every single ideal that the nation proclaims. Patriotism is not a love of any specific document or ideal, although documents and ideals are certainly important. Nor is patriotism a detestation for other nations or a pursuit of a nation’s good at the expense of another. Rather, true patriotism is a love of persons made in the image and likeness of God, united by a common land, history, and culture. True patriotism is a love for families, neighbors, and local institutions that form and shape persons with dignity. True patriotism is a recognition that a homeland is a gift from God and that human persons are stewards of this divine gift. And without a deep commitment to Jesus Christ, our patriotism can easily become angry and belligerent or empty and apathetic. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said it best by saying, “even devotion to the stars and stripes is not enough to save us. We must look beyond them to other stars and stripes, namely the stars and stripes of Christ, by whose stars we are illuminated and by whose stripes we are healed!” This weekend, we pray in gratitude for all those heroic men and women who have given their lives, just as Christ did, for the sake of others. May their souls rest in peace and may their legacy be forever honored.