From Father George W. Rutler’s ‘Weekly Column’
In the late nineteenth century, a New England college dean wrote: “The youth who loves his Alma Mater will always ask, not ‘What can she do for me?’ but ‘What can I do for her?’” One of his students, a clergyman named George St. John, paraphrased that as a locution to boys when he became headmaster of the Choate School in Connecticut: “Ask not what your school can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your school.” One of the boys who heard that in the 1930s, John F. Kennedy, made the diction more resonant in his inaugural address of 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Although he had speechwriters of acumen, one will not gainsay naïve clients of Kennedy for pillaging what was not his own. As Anatole France said, “When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.”
Today those lines could not be uttered approvingly by the political party to which Kennedy belonged. Because of the exigencies of copy editors, I am writing these lines before the national election, so I refrain from predicting the various state votes. But as a client of Saint Michael the Archangel, who is the patron of my parish, I am confident that this election, because the issues it is engaging are of the highest portent for our moral order, will have results that transcend the consequences of customary politics. This election will have exposed the corruption of the mainstream and social media, by their acquiescence to subjective journalism and the wanton censorship of reports of inconvenient scandals in high places.
Holy Church has been under attack, as borne witness by the need for armed security guards in our sanctuaries. Our own church in Hell’s Kitchen has been assigned armed security guards. This is not just a political assault, for the brutal killing of Christians worshipping in France shows the hatred of Christ, who said in words as thrilling as they are ominous: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake” (Matthew 5:11). “…for My sake.” All that we do, in every aspect of life, and in every moment of the day, if done for His sake, will reap an unimaginable reward.
If we want things only for ourselves, they will fester in the soul, confusing the intellect and weakening the will, but if we want the good of others, that will redound to the good of Church and Nation. Abundant are the demagogues who would promise what the government will give man, but they offer it in return for our souls. For Christians, it is a choice between Mother Church and Nanny State. That could be a costly exchange.