Thoughts on engagement
John the Mad in his role as a plank (seen 3rd from the top)
A colleague of mine told me last week that he has largely given up reading and watching the news in the print and electronic media. He finds life less stressful that way, he says. He is no doubt correct. There are times when I feel the assault on the culture of life seems to be consistent, intense and continuous and continually observing events can lead one to despair.
But while a retreat into the private sphere of family and friends is an increasingly attractive option, (something I've blustered to do if the Grits get re-elected) it is not really something I can do and remain a Catholic and a citizen. And both those things are integral to whom I am as husband, father, son, brother and friend. So if it is desirable that I be a good husband and father et al, then I must tend to my faith and my country.
The Church, of course, insists that I remain engaged with the world because the laity are the planks from which the Barque of Peter is constructed. Yes folks, I admit it. I am as thick as a plank. As a plank, I can only work to ensure that I remain strong and true, for the seas are rough and getting rougher.
If too many of the spiritual planks give way, because of dry rot caused by a lack of proper and regular maintenance, the barque will take on water. In the end, we know the barque will make it to port, for the ship builder is a very good carpenter by trade, but I don't want to be responsible for my personal compartment flooding. We planks may be thick, but we have a certain pride.
So it is with being a citizen. I am of the school that says the latter is deeply rooted in the former. My faith informs and transfuses my role as citizen. Accordingly, I do not accept the spurious assertion held by so many that there is, or ought to be, a complete separation between church and state. If our private faith is not permitted to sustain us in our public life, our public life will certainly flounder. The ship of state requires good charts and a faithful crew as much as the Barque of Peter needs its thick oak planks.