I Admit It, I Left Early

Although I generally don’t leave my pew until after the final chords of the recessional hymn have faded into silence, I left Mass this morning immediately after the dismissal (“Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life”) and before the recessional and final hymn.

I confess that I have never been comfortable with the frequent practice in Catholic churches of ending Mass on Fourth of July or Memorial Day weekend with American the Beautiful or the Star-Spangled Banner.  That the practice has been so common for so many years doesn’t make it sit any easier with me.  Sometimes I silently sit through it, but this morning I moved to a back pew upon returning from receiving the Eucharist and slipped out after the final blessing.

I have no objection at all to praying to God to bless us and our country. But uniting the hymn with Mass seems to me to promote the sense that we are somehow uniquely blessed by God – the chosen people of our times.

God doesn’t play favorites among his children. He doesn’t “shed His grace” on America as a country any more so than on any other country.

There is perhaps a place for nationalism.  (Perhaps.)  But to my way of thinking it is not in our celebration of the Mass.

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “I Admit It, I Left Early

  1. It’s hard to delineate between patriotism and chauvinism.

    At the Marine Corps recruiting depot on Paris Island, SC, the recessional hymn at the Catholic Mass each week and on every occasion (e.g., Christmas and Easter) is “The Marine Corps Hymn:

    “…First to fight for right and freedom

    And to keep our honor clean.

    We are proud to bear the title:

    Of the United States Marines.”

    I believe it was Dr. Johnson who said: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

  2. Not sure if you object more to the “shed His Grace” as excluding other countries or the idea that we ask for God’s blessing on our country during Mass. Is it a stricter interpretation of separation of church and state that you prefer, such as no politics during Mass? Or are you not liking the timing on the Fourth of July because it has patriotic overtones? Are you okay with prayer for our country and its leadership during the intercessions?

    Personally, I think we need to pray during Mass for our country and its leadership to continue to fulfil our founding fathers vision of freedom, especially freedom of religion. I don’t see this as nationalism, where we are superior in God’s eyes to any other countries, but an acknowledgement that we continue to ask for divine guidance and assistance as a country. Maybe singing the songs gives some people a better understanding and integration of the values of freedom and dependence on God that were clearly in the minds of those who founded this country.

    I like to sing the songs and don’t really feel that I am doing so out of a desire to express our “privileged” status. The rest of the song ….crown our good with brotherhood…although somewhat sexist, still represents an expression of desire for equality and respect among all people. This is a vision that is in process in our country and it is a powerful goal.

    There is a difference between patriotism (love of country based on shared beliefs and values) versus nationalism (thinking that your own culture is superior to that of other countries.). In my opinion “America the Beautiful” is an expression of patriotism. Neither song was sung at the Mass I attended today and I missed it!

  3. Thanks for this post; I too am very uncomfortable – for any number of reasons (including having worked in a parish with many international students.)

    Just this week I came across this quote from Dorothy Day:

    “Freedom has its roots in religion. Education is not confused as it is in this country, where pupils are taught to reverence God and Country, where they are taught to take God into partnership in order to prosper.

    “And if anything is more than utter atheism, it is this attempt to equate God and country, and to make God serve our own purposes. “

  4. “Although I generally don’t leave my pew until after the final chords of the recessional hymn have faded into silence,” At our parish, Susan, the last chord of the recessional is a signal for the organist to begin a loud “voluntary” that requires people to shout if they want to be heard by their neighbor or the priest as they leave the building.

  5. I have the same problem, Susan, especially with The Star-Spangled Banner, a chauvinistic battle cry. America the Beautiful, as it’s written, is a beautiful paean to a beautiful land and a prayer for God’s blessing, but I don’t think people see it this way. It’s in the same category as the national anthem: GO, GO, USA!!!

    It’s a good idea to leave.

    Andy

    Andrew P. Connolly

    309 Brookside Court

    Copiague, NY 11726-4001

    Tel.: 516-858-1230

    Cell: 516-984-7985

    Fax: 631-532-1567

    Email: apc1930@optonline.net

    From: Gerald S. Twomey [mailto:gst1212@gmail.com] Sent: Sunday, July 5, 2015 1:18 PM To: ‘Creo en Dios!’; ‘Stabile, Susan J.’ Subject: RE: [New post] I Admit It, I Left Early

    It’s hard to delineate between patriotism and chauvinism.

    At the Marine Corps recruiting depot on Paris Island, SC, the recessional hymn at the Catholic Mass each week and on every occasion (e.g., Christmas and Easter) is “The Marine Corps Hymn:

    “…First to fight for right and freedom

    And to keep our honor clean.

    We are proud to bear the title:

    Of the United States Marines.”

    I believe it was Dr. Johnson who said: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

  6. Yes, but not that awful tune €America€/My Country €˜Tis of Thee, written to the tune of God Save the King,€ extolling the imperialists who oppressed my people for five centuries.

    We learned a lot of so-called patriotic and martial tunes in Catholic grade school.

    As grandchildren of immigrants and children of WWII vets, we were intended to demonstrate that we were “€œmore Catholic than Rome, more American than apple pie.”

    That’€™s what the daughters of Irish pub keepers and Polish coalminers from Pennsylvania who became Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Scranton, Pa. were determined to instill in their charges.

    Here are the lyrics of one song that we sang at S.R.S. (a/k/a €œ”State Reform School”€), dear to the heart of LT Stephen Decatur, USN and Spelly:

    “€œLet’€™s all cheer for America,

    For her cause is just and right.

    Let’s all cheer for America

    As she marches in the light€¦

    The truth is sure

    And it will endure

    That right makes might!”€

    From: Andrew P. Connolly [mailto:apc1930@optonline.net] Sent: Sunday, July 05, 2015 2:44 PM To: ‘Gerald S. Twomey’; ‘Creo en Dios!’; ‘Stabile, Susan J.’ Subject: RE: [New post] I Admit It, I Left Early

    I have the same problem, Susan, especially with The Star-Spangled Banner, a chauvinistic battle cry. America the Beautiful, as it’s written, is a beautiful paean to a beautiful land and a prayer for God’s blessing, but I don’t think people see it this way. It’s in the same category as the national anthem: GO, GO, USA!!!

    It’s a good idea to leave.

    Andy

    Andrew P. Connolly

    309 Brookside Court

    Copiague, NY 11726-4001

    Tel.: 516-858-1230

    Cell: 516-984-7985

    Fax: 631-532-1567

    Email: apc1930@optonline.net

    From: Gerald S. Twomey [mailto:gst1212@gmail.com] Sent: Sunday, July 5, 2015 1:18 PM To: ‘Creo en Dios!’; ‘Stabile, Susan J.’ Subject: RE: [New post] I Admit It, I Left Early

    It’s hard to delineate between patriotism and chauvinism.

    At the Marine Corps recruiting depot on Paris Island, SC, the recessional hymn at the Catholic Mass each week and on every occasion (e.g., Christmas and Easter) is “The Marine Corps Hymn:

    “…First to fight for right and freedom

    And to keep our honor clean.

    We are proud to bear the title:

    Of the United States Marines.”

    I believe it was Dr. Johnson who said: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

  7. “And fight if we must,

    If our cause it be just,

    And this be our motto,

    ‘In God is our trust,’

    The star spangled banner,

    O long may it wave.

    O’er the land of the free…

    And the home of the brave.”

    An absolutely un-singable English pub drinking tune, adapted by the barrister, Francis Scott Key, namesake of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    From: Andrew P. Connolly [mailto:apc1930@optonline.net] Sent: Sunday, July 05, 2015 2:44 PM To: ‘Gerald S. Twomey’; ‘Creo en Dios!’; ‘Stabile, Susan J.’ Subject: RE: [New post] I Admit It, I Left Early

    I have the same problem, Susan, especially with The Star-Spangled Banner, a chauvinistic battle cry. America the Beautiful, as it’s written, is a beautiful paean to a beautiful land and a prayer for God’s blessing, but I don’t think people see it this way. It’s in the same category as the national anthem: GO, GO, USA!!!

    It’s a good idea to leave.

    Andy

    Andrew P. Connolly

    309 Brookside Court

    Copiague, NY 11726-4001

    Tel.: 516-858-1230

    Cell: 516-984-7985

    Fax: 631-532-1567

    Email: apc1930@optonline.net

    From: Gerald S. Twomey [mailto:gst1212@gmail.com] Sent: Sunday, July 5, 2015 1:18 PM To: ‘Creo en Dios!’; ‘Stabile, Susan J.’ Subject: RE: [New post] I Admit It, I Left Early

    It’s hard to delineate between patriotism and chauvinism.

    At the Marine Corps recruiting depot on Paris Island, SC, the recessional hymn at the Catholic Mass each week and on every occasion (e.g., Christmas and Easter) is “The Marine Corps Hymn:

    “…First to fight for right and freedom

    And to keep our honor clean.

    We are proud to bear the title:

    Of the United States Marines.”

    I believe it was Dr. Johnson who said: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

  8. With respect, I disagree. Consider America the Beautiful as a hymn in thanksgiving to God for creating our beautiful nation. And, the U.S. is unique among nations because it was founded on a proposition, recognizing the inherent dignity of each human by God. The key explanation is in the Declaration of Independence, second sentence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. — That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
    I would personally appreciate more patriotic hymns at Mass to thank our Creator for our nation!

  9. What would you think of “Eternal Father, Strong to Save”? Patriotic enough, but still has a more balanced view of the relationship between creature and creator, IMHO.

  10. “. . .at Mass to thank ‘our’ Creator for ‘our’ nation!”

    Such a thoughtful and respectful discussion of ‘our’ opinions. . .

    Does thankfulness for the freedom, grace and blessings we often associate with our nation innately reflect our thoughts and actions directed towards all ‘our’ citizens who seek equality under our anthem’s flag, or is behavior tethered more often to ‘banners’ unfurled that separate and too often discriminate?

  11. We were at Mass in Ely MN this past Sunday. This church did not sing a patriotic hymn but one that centered on God. I never had thought about this but I agree with the writer that said “God bless the whole world no exceptions”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s