**** The following was written by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy and distributed on July 6, 2013. ***
This picture of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, appeared in Summer 2013 on the front page of The Tablet, the paper of the Diocese of Brooklyn. It was also sent as a poster to every parish in Brooklyn and Queens, New York.
The flag of a nation is a symbol of a nation. A national flag is not and can never be a Christian symbol. The reason for this is that no nation-state is built on or teaches or lives according to the truths and values proclaimed by Jesus Christ as the Way and Will of God unto eternal salvation for each and all. The means and ends of a state are not now and never have been the means and ends of Jesus. Within any state a person can be a faithful Christian until the day he or she dies. But, no state is Christian just because it has Baptized Christians on the payroll or running the show.
For a Church or a Christian to wrap a Christian symbol in the symbol of a nation-state, e.g. a flag, is to generate spiritual cacophony in the souls of people and in the Church. It is to make unclear what is clear, namely, the empirical verifiability that the state does not live by the truths and values, the means and ends of Jesus. As the late Carl J. Friedrich, one of the world’s leading political scientists, friend and confidant of Henry Kissinger and former Eaton Professor of Government at Harvard University, wrote on the concluding page of his four hundred page book, The Pathology of Power: “Our analysis has, I hope, shown that politics needs all these dubious practices; it cannot be managed without violence, deceit, betrayal, corruption and propaganda.” To interlace a symbol of the reign of violence, deceit, betrayal, corruption with a symbol of the reign of God as proclaimed by the Jesus in the Gospels is to propagate untruth as truth. It is to breed evil under the auspices of good.
Whether this fusing of state symbols with Christian symbols is done out of ignorance, religious zeal or base motives, e.g., the lust for power and prestige, greed, cavalier indifference to truth, etc., the consequence is the same. Human beings are led toward the abyss of agony and destruction rather than the fullness of life in eternal communion with the Holy One. It is a terrible price that ordinary people pay—Christians and non-Christians— when the “Keepers of the Symbols” in the Church, the bishops and their clergy, merge contradictory symbols. Such an anschluss breeds evil under the canopy of the holy.
In large part, today in the U.S. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is just another propaganda gimmick in the arsenal of deception at the disposal of American civil and ecclesiastical politicos. She has been equivalently misused before, e.g. in capitalist’s Church-State joint operations to attack communism and socialism. But, to the best my knowledge, never before has the Mother of Jesus been so audaciously exploited at this level of “Bush-Obama in-your-face, might-makes-right and there-is-nothing-you-can-do-about-it,” brazenness. I do not think that even the Orthodox Churches, for whom the idolatry of nationalism has been a long abiding evil and scandal have ever put a national flag around the Mother of God in an icon.
To pray with Mary to Jesus on behalf of people or on behalf of a group of people is fine. To pray for a cause is most appropriate, providing it is not in contradiction of the will of God as revealed by Jesus. But, to clothe the Blessed Mother of Jesus in the American flag, or any national flag, is evil because it communicates untruth as truth concerning the will of God for the salvation of the world as revealed by Jesus.
Would this have been an acceptable image of the Blessed Mother to have displayed in every parish of a diocese? If so, why so? If not, why not?
Today in the U.S. 25% of the adult population identifies itself as Catholic. 76% of the population says it is Christian. In the 1938 German census 40% of the adults identified themselves as Catholic and 58% identified themselves as Lutheran. Lutherans, like Catholics, have a theology and a spirituality that sees Mary as having a special place in the economy of salvation. Luther wrote a hundred and fifty tracts on the Blessed Mother of Jesus and supposedly died holding a rosary. So, I ask you, my reader, in 1938 when this was the official national flag of Germany, would this have been an acceptable image of Mary for a bishop to place on the front page of his diocesan German Catholic newspaper? Would this have been an acceptable image of the Blessed Mother to have displayed in every parish of a diocese? If so, why so? If not, why not?
Beware of the Orwellian Christian symbolism that is snaking its way—with the help of some very wealthy and politically powerful people and their chosen hierarchical puppets—into the increasingly militaristic and nationalistic U.S. Christian Churches. These ever more prevalent doublespeak symbols must not be taken lightly. They can be choice determining and “energy directing.” They are a real danger, indeed, an extreme personal, social and spiritual danger, to the Christian, for they point him or her or the Christian community in the wrong way on a one-Way highway.