Today is "Jesus Day" in Piqua -- at least, for the Catholics.
Every year, about this time, we have "Jesus Day" for the second-graders who are soon to receive the Eucharist for the first time (i.e., this Sunday). "Jesus Day" is a series of activities, both fun and instructive, designed to prepare for that. Part of it is having the sacrament of reconciliation for the second-graders. I am proud of our community here: our second graders will have received the sacrament of confession several times before their first communion -- meaning, it is more than merely "something you have to do first." Our hope is it becomes a meaningful spiritual habit and source of grace all by itself.
So, in a bit, I'll head over to "shrive" our dear children. Later, we'll also have confessions for the 3rd graders, because we have confessions for all grades about four or five times during the school year, and they are due. We'll get the other grades next week, and the week after that.
Meanwhile, the other churches in town are participating in the "National Day of Prayer." Our parishes here haven't, in recent years, taken much role in that. Nobody asks why, so I'll just say it here, and I'll explain by way of describing the mailing I got, the other day, about it.
The flyer talked about events of the local, "National Day of Prayer" observance, how we'd pray for various worthy needs. But then it said something to this effect: "check here to indicate how many American flags you will need."
Why do I need an American flag in order to pray?
I love our country, but I don't understand why so many folks get mixed up on "God and Country." It's not like, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" -- it's more like:
And I have to say -- there is open space between God and country because some values are higher than patriotism. If our nation promotes evil -- such as abortion, contraception, pornography, plays word-games with torture, and so forth -- then while I still love my country, what is true and what is good is a higher loyalty.
But I have been to a number of these "God and Country" rallies, and while I know people mean well, to me they border on idolatry. About 70% country, and 30% God; lots of "God Bless America" when it should be, "America, bless God!" These events give every impression of suggesting God is an American, and favors our cause.
Wrong. God's Providence is vastly beyond our understanding; and if it happens (and it does often seem to be the case) that it serves God's purpose to use the United States or any other nation in pursuit of his purpose, than we ought to be humbled by that, and say, "we are but unworthy servants" and stop there.
There are many good things to say about our nation, and its principles and way of life; I'm not saying we shouldn't lift up those good things, and strengthen them. I think we should; and I think we should continue to be a beacon to the world, as we have been. There's no question we have something remarkable in our constitution and our liberty and free market economy. We have many good reasons to be proud of what our nation has contributed to the welfare of humanity.
But as between "God and Country, rah-rah America--er, I mean, um, God!" and "Jesus Day," I prefer the latter.