In the spirit of the day Jeffrey Mirus wrote an excellent article over there at “Catholic Culture” Patriotism, Tempered and Pure. His essay ends with these sage words (my comments in bold):
This Catholic awareness of a higher duty and a higher love makes Catholicism suspect in the eyes of those who place country at the apex of their hierarchy of being, (“hierarchy of being” is always a phrase that betrays the one who employs it as a classical thinker!) and above all in the eyes of those who deify the State. Such a response is merely a counterfeit of patriotism. Our love of country is a good and wholly natural response to the gift of a God who sustains and teaches us in time and place and culture, manifesting all the goods of nature and human industry in ways meant to lead us to that “something more” for which we all instinctively yearn. (through the visible we see the invisible!)
Country is part of the law of the gift, and we are right to cherish all of our gifts. But as with everything else, we love country for the sake of the Giver. We do not receive the gift and then push the Giver aside. It is this that tempers love of country and keeps it pure. It is this alone that properly orders patriotism. (excellent!)
Great Hierarchy Chart!
Liberal Education (AKA “Classical Education”) is all about knowing things and therefore knowing the order of things. After all order is in the definition of reason itself. There is no knowing apart from knowing the order of a thing. Where does the thing stand in the order – or hierarchy – of being? For example when we begin to know something we might ask questions like… is it caused or uncaused? Is it timeless or temporal? Is it mobile or changeless? is it spirit or matter? Is it a natural substance or something that belongs to substance? Is it animate or inanimate? Is it a quantity? Is it a relation? is it a time or place ?…and so on… although I think we might need to think more seriously about the order of these questions!
Naturally, as our knowledge becomes ordered so do our loves. Love follows upon our knowledge. When we know the right order of things this very knowledge enables us to love things properly; enables us to love things in the proper order!
As Dr. Mirus points out those who “deify the state” do so, because to them it appears to be at the “apex” of being. And this makes sense, to some extent, because the state certainly appears to be more known and closer to our senses than God.
But it is childish for a man to assert that the state is the highest authority. It is also the symptom of a mind that has never developed a habit of looking for causes, a mind that has never developed a habit of searching beyond what merely meets the senses. In fact it is the symptom of a mind that has never grown out of its infancy. Forgivable and charming when an infant thinks that no one is stronger than his own daddy- but shameful when an adult bows first to the state before God.
The liberally educated man, so habituated to order, is able to be authentically patriotic because his love is properly ordered. His love ascends like that of Pius Aeneas from parents to country to God. And those whose loves are not ordered are mere counterfeits.
Certainly it was Divine Providence that coupled the death of Thomas More on July 6, 1535 so closely with our own national day of Independence. He was the very embodiment of authentic Catholic patriotism and it was his liberal education that enabled him to say before his beheading
“I die the King’s good servant and God’s first.”