Recovering Love of God and Country

I was ready to respond to those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said: Here I am! Here I am! To a nation that did not invoke my name.

–Isaiah 65:1

Mid-way through the new year, July brings us summer fun and vacations. And just as the warmth of the sun nourishes and enlivens our body, the Son of God’s light of glory heals our heart and enlivens our soul. It is apropos that the Church dedicates this month to the healing power of Jesus’ Precious Blood.

In every Catholic home is the crucifix, our visual reminder of Jesus’ love for us personally. From His agony in the garden of Gethsemane to His death on the cross, His Sacred Heart forced His Precious Blood through the pores of His Sacred Body. This is the same body and blood, soul and divinity, which He gives us in the Eucharist at every mass. In return, He asks ‘only’ for our faithfulness to Him.

It is a monumental task, that fidelity to God, and it is only possible through His grace. Surrendering to Him, remembering our smallness and His power, what seems insurmountable becomes possible, even undertaken with ease. His grace perfects our smallest attempts to love Him and be true to His teachings. His love and mercy for us is so great that it cannot be contained. He suffered like us so that He could suffer with us. He is always contemplating us, our needs, and our trials.

Love cannot be contained, nor can it be satisfied unless shared. He wants us to imitate Him. And as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. Only we do the practicing, and He does the perfecting! Each time we act in a truly virtuous manner (one in which we have no need to justify our behavior), two things happen: (1) He gives us the grace to be virtuous and (2) it forms our soul such that it is easier to do the next time. As we develop firm habits of virtue, He perfects our acts with His grace. Thus, acting with virtue forms our soul to be more like Him.

The process of this is an exercise resulting in healing. To choose the virtuous act, we deny ourselves other easier choices, choices that usually would appease our passions or desire for sensory pleasures. This is the exercise in which we build trust in our Trinitarian God. To do this continually, though, eventually requires addressing the underlying wounds from which these inclinations and sin manifest. This is where the healing begins. Jesus is waiting to heal these with His Precious Blood. Through conversations in our prayer, we grow in knowledge of all three persons of the Trinity and of ourselves. We grow in relationship.

Standing with our feet firmly grounded in His Sacred Heart, our hearts are not so easily flustered by the threats from the world around us. Through prayer and experience, we grow to see how He uses every trial to form us in love and truth, to enliven and grow the gifts of His Spirit already in our soul, and to expand our heart’s capacity to both give and receive love. All of this creates more room for His Spirit in our soul and His presence gives a steadiness and surety to our efforts both great and small alike.

This, true virtue, is what our nation lacks and desperately needs.

“The Golden Triangle of Freedom is, when reduced to its most basic form, that freedom requires virtue; virtue requires faith; and faith requires freedom. The three go round and round, supporting one another ad infinitum. If any one of the three legs of the triangle is removed, the whole structure ceases to exist.”

Eric Metaxas cited by Jared Staudt

Our love of God not only increases our love for the people in our life, it also grows our love for society and our world. Love of country is a virtue; it is our duty of justice both in gratitude for that which we are given and in our duty towards others. It is an act of our will and perfected by God’s love. It requires true freedom—the ability and right to do as we ought, not as we want. That which we ought to do is determined by God; civil law and governance should give us the ability to live out Divine law and must be ordered to such. Thus, freedom requires virtue, virtue requires faith, and faith requires the freedom to be lived.

The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.

–Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

For many, our future looks dark and grim because they have lost the light of faith. Jesus is the only cure to hopelessness, and His love is our key to happiness. But we cannot share that which we do not possess. For love of country, we must first allow ourselves to be loved by God. Don’t be afraid to sit in silence with Him and let Him envelope you in His love.

Man combines his deepest human identity with membership of a nation.

––Saint John Paul II, On Human Work

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

This post was originally published on The Face of Grace Project and is reprinted here with permission. 

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