It occurred to me that I should begin to document my reasons for my political and religious affiliations. Why? I’m not sure, but the divisions within the Republican Party and the Catholic Church have forced me to reflect on my loyalties to both organizations.
The defense of life from inception to the grave is the primary reason I support the GOP. The party was founded on a “defense of life” principle when it opposed slavery. Besides being a major component of every GOP platform, members elected to office stand their ground in defense of life.
The defense of religious expression is equally critical to my support of the party. The very concept of liberty is meaningless if we are not free to live our faith. The Republican Party understands the deeper meaning of the pursuit of happiness. For those who live their faith, happiness is the pursuit of truth that rests in God.
The fact that the Republican Party must defend life and religious liberty against attacks by the Democratic Party makes it clear: I cannot support the Democrats.
The party’s defense of marriage is another major plank which I support. The lifetime commitment of one man and one woman to each other in marriage is a human virtue that preserves society. Any civil union between two men or two women is imperfect; they are physically unable to create new life together. Marriage, as a social contract, acknowledges the natural perfection of the union of one man and one union.
However, on other issues, the Republican Party has provided no leadership. To publicly proclaim they are fiscal conservatives and then legislate trillion dollar deficits is disingenuous. To reduce education to technical training for employment and economic gain undermines the value of education to communicate the value of life. The deep truths that moved Republican leaders to defend life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness required reflection on the values and virtues of Christian culture.
The ongoing battle between the religious liberal and conservative Catholics has been a major diversion from the salvific message and life of Jesus Christ throughout my life. The Second Vatican Council opened the Mass to participation by the laity. As an altar boy, I participated in the Latin Mass. The laity observed and offered personal prayer. Many prayed the rosary during Mass (my mom and grandma did this). It was not unusual to see them approach the altar rail to receive communion with the rosary. The altar boy placed the patten beneath their chin as the priest place the host on their tongue.
Yet the Second Vatican Council seemed to open the door for many Catholics to challenge everything about the Catholic Church. By reforming the liturgy and encouraging laity to be more engaged in the activities of the Church, the Church hierarchy assumed the laity was spiritually ready to embrace a higher apostolic mission. Unfortunately, the majority who accepted the invitation were not ready for more than Pauline “milk” (“I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,” 1 Cor 3:2)
Any evangelical movement within the Catholic Church requires a level of spiritual maturity that only a pure heart can attain. Evidence of a pure heart, a devotion to Jesus Christ, is a devotion to the Eucharist. Catholics who receive the Eucharist weekly express their devotion to Christ with apostolic humility. By acknowledging the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, they testify to the Church’s continuation of the Last Supper through time.
Loyalty to the Catholic Church is not simply duty to religious service; it is commitment to the apostolic call at the Last Supper. I continue to embrace the Catholic faith because it is the one, true faith that connects me to Jesus Christ and all his disciples till the end of time.
The greatest witness, in my lifetime, to the continuation of the apostolic mission is the canonization of three popes who served during my lifetime. Pope St John XIII, Pope St Paul VI, and Pope St John Paul II gave witness to the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church by their saintly leadership of the Catholic Church.
I will remain loyal to the Republican party while they defend “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as defined by God and by this nation’s founders. And I remain devoted to Jesus Christ and His church, the Catholic Church, until the end of time.