America Needs A Mother
That's because it's the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This year is the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX. The doctrine, he explained, means that Mary was preserved from original sin “from the first moment of her conception” by a “singular grace and privilege” given by God “in view of the merits of Jesus Christ” as redeemer of the human race.
But Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, was named America's patron by the First Council of Baltimore in 1846 — eight years earlier.
The decision was prescient — it both anticipated the proclamation of the doctrine itself and, argues Legionary Brother Shane Johnson, the needs of the nation in our day. His reflection, our guest editorial, follows:
My country was conceived in the original sin of slavery and born on the bloody fields of revolution. My country is living in the sin of abortion and the ignorance of God. America needs the Immaculate Conception.
No matter how big and grown-up we think we are, America is still a child who needs a mother. That's why it is no simple historical coincidence that the patroness of the United States has been the Immaculate Conception for nearly 160 years. The virtues that America most needs are the virtues that Mary best exemplifies.
Prayer. Sometimes my country seems like a 7-year-old boy kneeling beside his bed at night to whip through his prayers, mumbled words he doesn't understand. He doesn't know who Jesus is but hopes that he will bless him on his math test. His favorite saint is Santa Claus. How will my country learn to pray? My country needs a mother to teach her.
Charity. My country is like a 15-year-old girl who spends an hour in the morning making herself beautiful and falls in and out of love daily. She has memorized the doctrines of her movies and her pop tunes; she is a latter-day Rapunzel pining after Mr. Right. How will my country learn what true love is? My country needs a mother to teach her.
Family. My country is a 4-year-old boy jealous of the attention lavished on his newborn sister. He doesn't understand that he is his mother's favorite, and that she has other favorites, too. How will my country learn its place in the human family? My country needs a mother to teach her.
Sacrifice. My country is a 6-year-old girl with a weight problem who just plain refuses to finish the salad on her plate and throws a temper tantrum in middle of the restaurant until she gets more fries. When will my country learn to value sacrifice? My country needs a mother to teach her.
Suffering. My country is an 11-year-old boy who has just been beaten up after school. He saw in the eyes of those who surrounded him a hatred he couldn't comprehend. The insults and the laughter hurt as deeply as the punches and the bruises. Who will console him in the darkness of his suffering? My country needs a mother who first learned to weep silently at the foot of her Son's cross.
Integrity. My country is a 13-year-old girl who has the answers to the history exam programmed into her cell phone. After all, why work hard when you can beat the system? All the CEOs do it, too; if you get caught, just buy your way out of trouble. How will my country relearn honesty and sincerity? My country needs a mother to teach her.
Simplicity. My country is a 17-year-old boy who reads Nietzsche and Camus because he knows his parents can't stand it. With the distant frown of the postmodern academic, he has written off “meaning” as “irrelevant.” He is eagerly convincing himself that morality doesn't exist because, frankly, things are just easier that way. The siren song is drowning his conscience, and he calls it “being open-minded.” How will my country learn right from wrong? My country needs a mother to teach her.
There is no substitute for a mother. Others may love me, but never as unconditionally as my mother. I may trust others, but never quite like I trust my mother. No one prays for me like my mother prays for me. And no one, not even my college professors, can teach me as much as what I learned from my mother.
What will America grow up to be? Will America save its soul? Open questions. That's why, now more than ever, America needs the Immaculate Conception.
- December 5-11, 2004