Patriotism can be good, or it can be bad. Pride in one's country can be healthy, or it can be unhealthy.
An unhealthy pride is often considered the original sin. In his pride, Lucifer (Satan) thought he knew better than God. The first humans in their pride thought they knew better than God. And we in our pride sometimes think and act as though we know better than God.
An unhealthy patriotism does not seek God's will for the nation in all matters. Instead, it conveniently chooses what issues it will consult the Almighty on.
Catholics adhering to this type of patriotism will often cite God's approval on those issues where they feel - through Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium - God is in agreement with their position.
However, when that is not the case, instead of doing the hard work and prayer of spiritual discernment, they choose to ignore God and rely on purely secular arguments.
This way of thinking leads to an unhealthy pride in one's country - where waving the flag and proclaiming "my country right or wrong, love it or leave it," becomes the narrow-minded standard for judging whether a person is a patriotic citizen or not.
This unhealthy patriotism often leads many people to believe their nation is better than all other countries. It proclaims: "We are number one!"
Numerous people in various nations seem addicted to this kind of unhealthy pride of country. In the United States, this sense of haughty superiority - promoted by some neoconservative writers - is known as "American exceptionalism."
In this sense, it is believed that America is that city on a hilltop - taken from Matthew's Gospel - that shines a totally righteous light for all other nations to admire and emulate.
While America can generally claim in some areas to be a very good example for others to follow - such as the U.S. Bill of Rights which guarantees freedom of religion, speech, assembly and the press - there are on the other hand many areas where the United States is walking in darkness.
From legalized abortion, to being the world's leading arms merchant, to possessing the world's most dangerous nuclear arsenal, to having over 15 million children living in poverty, to rampant pornography, to the military-industrial complex, to only giving less than 1 percent of its annual income to the poor of the world, the U.S. is demonstrating it has a moral illness and is in need of healing and spiritual conversion.
Instead of ignoring these and other ills, Americans who possess a healthy patriotism honestly acknowledge these sicknesses and work to heal the nation.
As people of faith, we have the indispensable wisdom, power and love of God - the great physician - to aid us. But we must invite him to lead the way. In order to be healthy and holy, God must be at the center of our lives and our nation.
A few years ago I had the privilege of interviewing the courageous counter cultural peace activist Jesuit Father Dan Berrigan. He raised a question of crucial importance for every American Catholic to ponder: "Am I a Catholic-American? Or am I an American-Catholic?"
What comes first, our country or our God?"
Do we blindly follow the culture, government and economic system of our nation, or do we faithfully follow the Lord Jesus who alone is the way, the truth and the life?
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, "Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century," has been well received by diocesan gatherings from Salt Lake City to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at: email@example.com
By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Cuban officials have given the go ahead for the papal altar to be erected next to a giant outline of Che Guevara for the world to see. Work has already begun on the project and the placement of the altar will provoke commentary from those who accuse Pope Francis of ... continue reading
By Tony Magliano
Seventy years ago, on August 6, 1945, the single most destructive weapon ever unleashed upon human beings and the environment - the atomic bomb - was dropped by an American B-29 bomber on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing approximately 80,000 people. Three days ... continue reading
By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Ex-Pastor Tullian Tchividjian of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida broke his silence after his recent moral failure admission and stepping down from his post. Billy Graham's grandson wrote an open letter to his supporters and friends, ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Christians all over the world are suffering from increasing prejudice and persecution. It is no secret that Islamic extremism and repressive governments are trying hard to perpetuate the oppression of Christianity. Pope Francis has been moved to warn of "a form of ... continue reading
By CNA/EWTN News
Jesus Christ's miraculous multiplication of the loaves shows that he offers "fullness of life for hungry man," Pope Francis said Sunday. He encouraged everyone to offer what little they have to God so that God can multiply their gifts and good deeds. Vatican ... continue reading
By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Wearing your best outfit or putting on a little makeup in preparation for Church isn't too looked down upon. A leading Christian writer shared with Crosswalk.com what she has realized over years of church participation. Although she loves beautiful clothes and make-up, ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
He was the first American who contracted the deadly Ebola virus - fearful and sick, Dr. Kent Brantly came to realize something important for Christians and their relationship with God. Amid the pain and moments of uncertainty, from being diagnosed positive with ... continue reading
By J. Matt Barber
So this was rock bottom. The day, which yet again wore into night with fast food and old Bonanza reruns, would end like all the rest. Where were my car keys? As I searched in preparation for another trip to the liquor store, I made my way to my bedroom and opened ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
With no end in sight, "donor fatigue" is setting in for those trying to help Middle Eastern Christians fleeing ISIS. There appears to be no solutions, only increasing refugees and more need. The refugees' situation is only getting worse. Refugees now realize ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Legal battle over the issue of a giant cross standing over a veterans' memorial has been a long and tedious fight, but an agreement may now put it all to rest, keeping the monument on the land. Atheists and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed legal ... continue reading