Wednesday, September 29, 2010

‘Without Saints a Society will not be a Just Society’

That’s the upshot of an excellent column by Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete at Il Sussidiario. The column is a follow up to a previous one in which he wrote:

Protestants think in a Protestant way, and that is as expected. What is sad is how much many Catholics in America also think about faith in a Protestant way.

Albacete then reflected on the intensity and emphasis of devotion Korean Catholics exhibit toward the Korean Martyrs (great) vs. the intensity and emphasis American Catholics exhibit toward their own saints (not so much). He concluded:

The fact is that outside of personal piety and ethical inspiration, sanctity is just not a factor in the shaping of a nation’s history and destiny. This is the Protestant prejudice to which many American Catholics on all sides of the political spectrum have succumbed.

A friend of mine, our media and culture columnist Santiago Ramos, forwarded me Albacete’s first column and I emailed Santiago some thoughts on it. Santiago forwarded my email to Msgr. Albacete, who is a friend of his, and lo and behold, completely unbeknownst to me, my email ends up as the introduction to Msgr. Albacete’s current column. (Yes, this has gone to my head.) Of course, I’m not his only source. He also quotes Pope Benedict. (This has really gone to my head.)

But not for long, because the point of Albacete’s second column is one that can stand as a chastisement to a lot a commentators on politics and faith, most certainly including me. For American Catholics, he writes (my emphases):

The quest for sanctity is understood in ethical terms, bearing fruit in life after death as a favorable divine judgment on our behavior. Politics is simply just another area of our earthly existence in which we are so judged. . .

. . .When the Holy Father talks about faith and Love, he is referring to the quest for a share in divine life, that is, to the quest for sanctity. What he is telling us is thus that without saints a society will not be a just society. Its politics will be dominated by anger and the struggle for power in order to protect personal interests from competing ones. Saints are needed to make society human.

If you’re interested to see what I said and to read the rest of the column, please do.