14 October 2009

All are Called to Sainthood, Even Politicians

Do you know who made these two statements:
"I always said that you should not have your religion interfere with government policies or with the policies of the people."

"I am a Catholic and a very dedicated Catholic, but that does not interfere with my decision-making..."

No, it wasn't one of the Kennedys. Close though. It was Eunice's son-in-law, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Over and over again, I keep reading in the news about politicians that say they're "a dedicated Catholic" or "a Catholic in good standing," but add that their faith does not interfere with their political affairs. Since most of the news I read is from Catholic sources, over and over again, I read how bishops keep affirming that such politicians should refrain from receiving Communion when their anti-Catholic decision-making results in the death of an innocent person, as it does with abortion.

This is not a punishment or power-play by the bishops. It's actually the only charitable thing to do for such politicians. It is a mortal sin to deliberately, and with full knowledge of the consequences, do something that results in the death of an innocent person. If someone receives Christ in the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, he commits a sacrilege, and he is in a worse state than before receiving Communion. Catholic politicians that make such political decisions, and are therefore in a state of mortal sin, must make a valid Confession (avowing not to commit the same sin again) before receiving Communion.

Not only are these politicians putting themselves in a state of mortal sin when they make such decisions, they are betraying the Catholic Faith. This is how the Jews felt about the Jewish tax collectors, or publicans, during the Roman occupation of Israel. They were selling out their own people to the alien Roman government. They were traitors.

Of course, we all know that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. But such close communion had a healing affect. These tax collectors and sinners were never the same. Look at Zacchaeus. He publicly repented of his acts of corruption and vowed to make restitution for them. Catholic politicians that betray the Catholic Faith are called to do the same.

Is it easy? Is it safe?

No!

I have another quote for you:
"I am the state's good servant, but God's first."

Now this really doesn't sound like one of the Kennedys. Okay, I admit I modified the words to make this quote more relevant to modern western governments. It should read, "the King's good servant." You probably recognise it now. It's St. Thomas More, the patron saint of politicians.

What does it mean to be a patron saint? To understand this, I guess we need to know what it means to be a saint. All baptised Christians living on earth are saints; however, when we use the word saint, we're usually referring to a canonised saint. For someone to be canonised, he either has to be a documented martyr for the Catholic Faith, or leave documented proof of living a life of great virtue followed by miracles worked through his intercession after his death. Basically, for someone to be canonised, the Church has to have undeniable proof that he is in heaven (aside: note that the Church never declares that a person is in hell).

There are two reasons for declaring someone is a saint in heaven. First, knowing a person is in heaven means we can confidently ask him to intercede for us. But more importantly, knowing a person is in heaven means we can confidently follow his example on how to get into heaven. We are all called to follow the examples of canonised saints to become canonised saints ourselves.

A patron saint of an office or state in life is a specific example of how all persons in similar offices or states can live in order to get into heaven. St. Thomas More is an example of how politicians can live a life that will get them into heaven. We have both documented proof of his life of great virtue, and proof of his martyrdom for the Catholic Faith.

Did St. Thomas More let religion interfere with his government policies or with the policies of the people? Did St. Thomas More let his dedication to the Catholic Faith interfere with his decision-making? Yes he did.

St. Thomas More was Lord Chancellor of Great Britain. To the vocal majority of Englishmen at the time, it was in Britain's best interests to pass the Act of Supremacy. Politics required St. Thomas More to sign this act; however, signing would betray the Catholic Faith. St. Thomas More instead proffered his resignation of the chancellorship. It was not accepted the first time, but sometime later his second resignation was.

After his resignation, he was asked to swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession, which would also betray the Catholic Faith. For refusing to swear, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and later tried and found guilty of treason (through perjury I might add).

On July 6, 1535 St. Thomas More was beheaded on Tower Hill. While on the scaffold he declared, "I die the King's good servant, but God's first."

This is the call of all Catholic politicians. If you are forced to betray the Catholic Faith due to politics, God demands that you resign. Before that happens, for the good of the people you server, all government policies and decision-making you make must be formed by your Catholic Faith, regardless of how unpopular such an action may be. Anything less than this means that you are not "a dedicated Catholic" or "a Catholic in good standing."

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, God is calling you to be Saint Arnold Schwarzenegger. Please answer this call. Maybe you'll be made the patron saint of bodybuilders and even co-patron of politicians.