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Chapter 21

Church and State

 

The Catholic Church is the work of divine Providence
achieved through the prophecies of the prophets,
through the Incarnation and the teaching of Christ,
through the journeys of the apostles,
through the suffering,
the crosses, the blood and death of the martyrs,
through the admirable lives of the saints.
—St. Augustine

 

 

My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)  The “kingdom” of Christ is the Church.  It is not “of this world,” even though it is in it.  Every converted Christian who is still growing in grace and has not given up on the spiritual journey is a living member of this Mystical Body, this supernatural spiritual community.  “The kingdom of God comes not with observation; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘Look, there it is!’  For behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)  The exercise of the sacramental life and teaching authority of the Catholic Church is observable, but whether an individual member is living or dead, in a spiritual sense, is not observable, except by inference and effects.  “You shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:16)  The “wheat” and “tares” will be there together until the end of time. (Matt. 13:30)  The “wheat” who “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (holiness)” will bear the fruit of true love or charity, including, growth in faith and humility, generosity and holy detachment, prayer and the presence of God, purity and chastity, truth and sincerity. (Matt. 6:33)  On the other hand, “after all these (worldly) things do the heathens (“tares”) seek.” (Matt. 6:32)  They will bear the fruit of self-love or selfishness, including, growth in pride or self-importance, greed and avarice, lust and impurity, error and falsity.

Church and State need not be two opposing forces but can complement one another in their own unique ways.  “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:17)  Each fulfills a necessary role in society.  The State brings law and order, safety and security.  The Church brings us salvation.  Both should promote and not undermine what is good and true.  As life on earth is meant to be a preparation for the life of heaven, so the State can prepare the way for true religion by encouraging the life of virtue.  As right reason is not opposed to faith but can prepare the way for it and protect it, so the State, when it truly acts reasonably, is not opposed to the Church but can prepare society for it and protect it.  “First of all, then, I ask that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, and especially for kings and all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and integrity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:1-4)

 

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