My friend Rick Santorum sends along a link to his latest column.
Read it at this link: Heaven Welcomes Sweet ‘Saint Brendan’
Personally and spiritually speaking, Rick Santorum is quite the Passionist. What I mean is, he has a keen awareness that our sufferings have value to God and that we all have a share in the Cross of Jesus, with each other and for each other, out of love for each other and for the purpose of giving thanks and praise to God, Who is the source of all of our blessings. This is crystal clear in his article about Brendan Kelly.
When he writes things like this, I wonder what people who are not Catholic will think about it. Barack Obama speaks of God and faith frequently, but he is not criticized for it as Rick Santorum is. When a Democrat speaks about God and faith, it is either yawned at or considered a good thing. When Republicans like Rick Santorum do it, there is undeniable panic. (The same holds with Governor Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tony Perkins, and other politicos who are people of faith.) People accuse Republicans of “theocracy.” There is a word for people who claim Republicans want “theocracy” when they speak as openly about God as Democrats do and when the same criticisms are not directed at Democrats. That word is “hypocrisy.”
So, what is it, exactly, that makes Brendan Kelly saintly? It is primarily that he is an innocent who made the choice to offer up his sufferings for others, in an act of love. Would that we would all do that, in our sufferings. America would surely be a better place in which to live if we would put the needs of others before ourselves, especially when doing so may cause us some discomfort.
What do I mean by “suffering offered for others?” It can be any kind of suffering, actually. I’m reminded of a video tweeted recently by Patricia Heaton.
Let’s start the weekend on a positive note!youtube.com/watch?feature=…
— Patricia Heaton (@PatriciaHeaton) May 4, 2013
While he was imprisoned in Rome, St. Paul wrote to the Church at Colossæ:
I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.– Colossians 1:24
Rick says that he believes Brendan Kelly is a saint, and the basis he offers is sound, at least for us Catholics. My greatest sorrow is that so few people, even many Catholics who were poorly catechized, realize that our sufferings may have graces attached to them if we offer them up in union with the sufferings of Christ. The Santorums understand this, and I am grateful that they do. That they do shows their genuine compassion for those who suffer, because they see that each of us has this role in God’s plan of love. In this, their Catholic Faith is truly authentic.
How might all of this translate to policy if Rick Santorum were to become president? It doesn’t really have a translation to policy except in the context of freedom. You read that right. Freedom. There is a very good passage on suffering in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that speaks of the inherent “mystery of lawlessness” and the “mystery of religion.”
God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? “I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution”, said St. Augustine, and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For “the mystery of lawlessness” is clarified only in the light of the “mystery of our religion”. The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace. We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.
It is only in the “mystery of religion” that the “mystery of lawlessness” is “clarified.” A moral society does not need as many laws as an immoral society does. Further, we are not going to have a moral society as long as we keep propping up people who insist that it is the role of government to “end suffering” for us. While it is true that there is a collective responsibility to bring healing in society, the more religion is removed from that role, the more lawlessness there will be, because, as the catechism rightly says, it is through religion that we understand lawlessness with full clarity.
Where morality is unwelcome or illegal, immorality will automatically rule. Where immorality rules, lawlessness (in God’s eyes) becomes the law of civil government. That is how we end up with unjust laws. On the other hand, the more freedom people have to do what they believe to be God’s will, and of course, the more committed they are to doing God’s will, the less need there is for government. This is why it is important for our leaders to speak openly about faith in God. It is God who will bring healing to America, through His love and through our love for each other, not government. Certainly, there must be laws to protect the innocent from the corrupt, but those laws must be just laws. Otherwise, the innocent become criminals.
Rick Santorum gets this, I know, because he speaks so frequently about the importance of our mediate institutions in society (non-profits of all kinds) in ministering to people in need. It is the “mystery of religion” that relies firmly on freedom of conscience which brings light to society. The “mystery of religion” is the “clarity” that shines light on the “mystery of lawlessness.”
Just as Brendan Kelly’s free choice, as a matter of conscience, to offer his sufferings for Bella and others was truly redemptive, so will our efforts on behalf of each other in a free society be redemptive for our country. It is not “theocracy” to simply allow people to do what they believe to be God’s will. It is tyranny, though, for the civil law to prevent people from doing what they believe to be God’s will.
I hope some of this makes sense. If you don’t understand, feel free to ask for elaboration in the comments.
Thank you, Rick, for understanding the Passion…and for everything that you and your family do to make it known. If any Santorums are reading this, I hope you approve of what I wrote here. I never seem to get this right enough to suit myself.
Happy Birthday, Bella!
St. Brendan, ora pro nobis!
St. Gemma Galgani, ora pro nobis!