Sunday, September 2, 2012

Catholicism in the Public Square

There are many who claim that religion should be removed from the public square in a modern society. A religiously pluralistic society should be secular, where no one should be allowed to impose their religion on others in the public square, since people of other faiths would be offended by the introduction of religion into the public square.
Never mind the fact that this policy effectively imposes irreligion in the public square. (Never mind that irreligion offends me.)
If adopted, such an attitude wages war against the very nature of the Catholic faith.
For Catholicism cannot merely be practiced only on weekends or in silence. Catholicism is a way of life, to be practiced in private AND in public.
Forcing religion out of the public square means that Catholicism becomes little more than a hidden, arcane ritual to be performed every Sunday. This type of Catholicism is a caricature of the Faith.
Real Catholicism is not dead doctrine and arcane ritual; it is living reality. Real Catholicism drives the daily lives of its followers. Real Catholicism demands charity towards neighbors, obedience to a moral code, and first and foremost fidelity to God above all.
And this Catholicism must be lived to the full, informing our every thought, word, and deed. Our lives are to be imbued with the spirit of Christian charity informed by our Faith, if we are to be truly Catholic. And this spirit cannot simply be cast aside in the public square.
There are times when I wish that Catholicism was less than all-consuming demand of service to God and neighbor. I wish that the Catholic religion was merely a ritual people could participate in every Sunday and be done. (I love compartmentalization.)
But deep down, I cannot separate my Catholic faith from my daily life – it is a part of me. If you force me to keep my religion under a bushel basket, you force me out of the public square altogether.
For I cannot – and will not – hide my faith in public. My Catholicism informs my thought processes, defines my actions, and directs my actions. If forced to abjure my Faith in the public square, I will withdraw from the public square altogether. 
Nor can the Church simply give up Her faith in the public square at the whim of the government. The HHS mandate forces the Church to either ignore one of Her moral teachings – or to stop giving charity altogether.
If government seeks to prevent Catholics from living out their faith in the public square, they effectively prevent Catholics (well, real Catholics, at any rate) from entering the public square.  

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