Did you know that patriotism is a virtue that falls under the cardinal virtue of justice? If we are to grow in virtue, that means that growing in patriotism is included in that. (You mean to tell me that wearing red, white, and blue and flying the country’s flag on my front porch isn’t enough?!) Well, that’s certainly a decent start, but there is more!
For a quick look at what patriotism is and isn’t, we recommend this piece. It’s a good Catholic explanation. For our part, we want to briefly explore 4 things (and a 1 bonus item) that you can do to grow in patriotism, which means growing in virtue which means growing in holiness!
1. Pray for the country and its leaders.
St. Paul exhorts us to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way” (1 Tim 2:2). This is probably the most basic and is absolutely the most effective thing we can do to exercise our patriotism. Prayer, especially when joined with other Americans of goodwill, can be an unstoppable force for good. Praying for our leaders and our fellow Americans (our neighbors) is the very best action we can take for love of country and its people.
2. Work for the common good.
The “common good” is the sum of conditions that allow people within a society to flourish. As Catholics, we believe that friendship with Jesus Christ is the very best kind of flourishing we can hope for for anyone. It could be extrapolated, then, that the common good is wishing that each and every American has a deep and loving relationship with The Redeemer. But, you ask, how does that play out as an aspect of patriotism?? Well, certainly we pray for our fellow Americans (see above) but another great thing to do is actively support Christian leadership candidates and lobby for more of them in public office. The common good is served when men and women who will work for Christian ideals and morality are in positions to help others come to know and love Jesus.
3. Be positive!
The last thing we need is negativity. Yes, it sometimes feels like our country is going to Hell in a handbasket, but grumpy finger-pointing doesn’t really help. With God all things are possible (including a great future for the USA!) and to keep this outlook, we need to have hope and the joy of the gospel as the lens we see, think, and act through. In terms of patriotism, we need to use our voice, whether it be our social media accounts or our daily conversations, to positively promote Christian ideals for our great country. Sure, she needs a whole lotta help right now, but Christ-like action and positivity are just the thing to turn her around!
4. Learn the history, Constitution, and law of our country.
What makes the U-S-of-A so great, anyway? What makes her unique in the world? One answer to that is the nation’s laws, which have provided a greater degree of freedom to her citizens than has been enjoyed by virtually any people–ever! Learning how and why our nation was founded, how she is constituted (read: what she is), and what rights and responsibilities we have as citizens, is a great way to help a seedling patriotism blossom.
If you need a refresher on the history and founding documents of the nation, here are some free online courses from Hillsdale College and resources from the National Archives to help!
Bonus Item: Love thy neighbor (like, the one next door!)
This last item may be the hardest to do, but, it is also the second greatest commandment. True patriotism is a love for country and fellow countrymen. It’s hard to love our fellow inhabitants of the Fatherland if all we focus on is our differences. The commission to love our neighbor as ourself is not easy, but seeking to be better in this area will only help the country and our growth in holiness.
So, growth in true patriotism is growth in holiness! It benefits our country, our neighbor, and our own souls! What’s not to love?! No matter how things may look at the moment, it IS a great time to be an American! God bless the USA!