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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Apostolic Secession?

Huh? Apostolic secession? Is that like...where the the apostles seceded from their communion with Christ? Sure, but that would be terrible because the deposit of faith given by Christ to His apostles would have scattered and there would be no union. There would be no Church and no Christian faith.

Man, I'm so grateful that the apostles didn't secede from Christ (well, there was that one...)

Judas Seceded From The Communion
Haha and it's a weird way of associating political vocab with theological truth. Or maybe I just wanted to use that play on words: apostolic succession (#Catholicvocab) vs. apostolic secession (#notCatholicvocab).  And maybe I just wanted to draw a picture...

But hmm, it seems that secession is a popular topic these days. We're a few weeks past the presidential election, and it seems more than half of the United States have petitions to secede from the Union (, accessed Nov. 18, 2012). Kind of crazy, because that wasn't a consequence I was expecting immediately following the election. Didn't we Americans get what we wanted? We voted and now here we are again. How can we go from elections to secessions so quickly? Perhaps we don't know what we want other than wanting what we think we want. Or something. But either way, it seems that there is unrest and disapproval with the way things are going right now and secession seems to be the solution!

I started thinking about this, and it was hard not to think about it because both my Facebook and Twitter timelines showed expressed thoughts on seceding from the United States, whether "yeah we should!" or "this is such a dumb idea!"...or the "I'm indifferent but it's interesting that there are states petitioning for secession!"

For whatever reason, a Gospel passage came to mind as I thought about the idea of seceding from the United States. And because my life is Catholic, I started thinking about it more but through a Catholic mind. I know for us hardcore Catholics, the results of this election are disappointing. Careful examination of the status of our country and where we're headed is enough cause for worry, and so it is easy to buy into the idea of secession. But is seceding really what's best for us? Would that be a sort of band-aid solution? Would we be just running away from the issues that we are concerned with regarding the federal government? Aren't we called as Catholics to not be afraid?

With all that said, I would say that we are citizens of the kingdom of God first before we are citizens of whatever government rules over us.

Here's that Gospel passage...

From John 15: 18-27, The World's Hatred (NAB)
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.  Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.'  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept my word,, they will also keep yours.  And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin.  Whoever hates me also hates my Father.  If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father.  But in order that the word written in their law might be fulfilled, 'They hated me without cause.'  "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.  And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
The parts that stick out to me are...

If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.
In other words, we are in the world rather than of the world.  I always have to remember that I'm made for heaven. This world is temporal. My life on earth is temporary. I'm simply in the world, but I know this is not my final place. I'm made in the image and likeness of God, and God desires His children to be in union with Him in heaven. Humankind seceded from God in the Garden (Genesis 3), but God desires that we restore that friendship and union with Him because He loves us and sent His only Son to redeem the world by His cross.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first
No wonder! I mean, if the world hates Jesus, then surely the world hates His followers too. Makes sense. And if the world hates Him, I would imagine that the world would try to make it difficult for His followers to follow. Hey, let's photoshop out crosses, let's force Catholic adoption agencies to let homosexual couples adopt, let's force everyone to pay for contraception/abortion/sterilization despite your religious beliefs, and the list goes on and on.

Tying this all together, the idea of seceding from the United States does seem like a good idea because we have lost confidence in the future of our country and the idea that we're better off doing our own thing. But, we have to remember that doing our own thing means nothing unless we maintain our union with Christ.  Perhaps our country is falling apart because we're too busy trying to do our own thing instead of keeping Christ as our center and source of unity.  It doesn't matter which Caesar we serve, but we must still render unto God what is God's (Matthew 22)...and what is God's?  We are.

We are in the world, not of it. And even as the world tries to make it difficult for us to live out our Christian faith because the world hates God and thus hates us, we cannot be afraid. We are disciples of Christ and as such, our commUNION (#Catholicpuns) with Him gives us the strength to endure our trials and tribulations in this world.  We should strive not to break that union from Him through sin.  We should carefully reflect on what it is we ultimately desire...and what God ultimately desires for us.

O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care.

Most Holy Mother, we beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection.

Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people.  Open our minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.

Free us from the falsehoods that lead to the evil of abortion and threaten the sanctity of family life.  Grant our country the wisdom to proclaim that God's law is the foundation on which this nation was founded, and that He alone is the True Source of our cherished rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

O Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death and the strength to build a new Culture of Life.


Faith. Hope. Charity.
- JD