This reflection is now available in Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s book Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century: Selected Reflections from the Dating God Blog and Other Essays, Volume One (Koinonia Press, 2013).



  1. Dan- hope all is well,noted you are on LBI for summer,lots of philly people.thanks for the article. I began to reallize that The “Pledge of Allegence” is more important than the “Our father”.The american flag is flown in every catholic church ,all year round,contrary to canon lawI The mass is universal. I was warned early on, not to make our catholic people have to choose between their country and their God.I am still trying to strike a balance.One can be of any faith in this country,but you must be an” American”.I remember Dan Berrigan writing to young jesuits claiming that “America is hard to find.”
    good luck at the conference,if you have time visit us in Philly

    pat sieber ofm

    1. I suggest you ignore the warning, Pat. That choice is precisely what our catholic people must confront.

  2. Excellent reflection. However, I would have been the one to stand, just as I am the one to kneel, (although, the later obviously takes precedence).

    Only a couple of points of clarification/concention. One mentions Jacobson’s point about the PATRIOT Act being a “wart”, yet it is o.k. for the HHS to mandate the Church’s position in socialized healthcare law. How is this possible?

    Secondly, one speaks of the negative impact of a state “religion”, which is correct, yet in the same vain dismisses those who do actually hold this “nation under God”; and, then also those who pay the ultimate gift/price to lay down one’s life for a friend (and in many cases strangers). Please correct me, but can this not be based on Scripture? Taken to heart for those of Faith who do serve in the Armed Forces, and IS premise for those who follow the call of a consecrated religious life? (Completely different means, but the same basic thread).

    And, tying to the first point: By accepting the socialize medical law, en toto, does that not imply an “approval” of the state “religion”; thereby nullifying one’s negative impact argument? Furthermore, is not the religious vacuum exactly for what progressives and secularist arguing and demanding for decades?

    Lastly, for those who kneel during the appropriate time during the Sacrifice of the Mass, and for those who kneel and receive on the tongue, do so out or respect and humility for the True Presence of Our Lord in the Eurcharist, and not out of some vane “protest” to break from N.O. cultural “norm”. Besides, are we also not called to challenge the norms to follow our Faith, even unto death?

    1. Matthew, please explain to me how kneeling and receiving on the tongue has something to do with respect and humility for the true presence of our Lord in the Eucharist? It seems to me that a more powerful gesture of respect for the Body of Christ would be to join with the rest of the Body of Christ in following the prescribed norm of the GIRM rather than the exception clause…

      1. Respectfully, on this, if I need to explain it…..

        For me it is the same reason “I confess…, through MY fault….”, I believe…” (“new” translation). Yes we are members of the collective Body of Christ, but each has a personal relationship. Did someone else cause me to commit a sin or faulter? No. It is my doing. Yes we all “build” each other up, but in the end, facing judgement day, is my neighbor going to face time in pergatory for my sins? No. (There is no need for theological debate regarding this, and no my catechesis is not failed. Fully understand and accept Salvation, etc, but also accept I may have to spend a little time “cooking” — don’t foresee a straight-shot to the Pearly Gates).

        For me it is more than just following some rubics. It is my way of being ever so grateful and humble myself before the Lord for His presence and the blessings, joys and sorrows upon me He bestows (although I could use a few less sorrows, but who am I to complain). To put it into perspective, why does one prostrate oneself when professing their solemn vows, or ordination? Why does the priest and deacon prostrate themselves for our Most Sacred Holy Days?

  3. In looking at the new Mass texts for July 4 in the new missal I am heartened that there are options that are less nationalistic in tone. Who would have thunk?

  4. Well, I would have stood also, out of respect. I think it is very dangerous to confuse religion and patriotism. To do so, it seems to me, concedes patriotism to those who would wage war. I refuse to do so. Peace is patriotic. Like Matthew, I don’t think the American flag should be in Catholic churches – but that’s where Matthew and I diverge. I’m more of a “who would Jesus bomb?” type. Suggesting that the audience sit through the National Anthem is ridiculous, specious, and makes an issue out of something that is not relevant to the nation being right or wrong. The whole quote is, of course, something like, My country right or wrong, may she always be right; where she is wrong may she be righted. Seriously, what the hell was the point of telling people to remain seated? It’s just stupid. One can disagree with the secular leadership and still be patriotic. I was one of those who stood during the canon of the Mass rather than kneel — back in the olden days — so maybe standing is just more meaningful and participatory to me than it is to Mr. Jacobsen. xoxo, Mary

    1. ˝It is very dangerous to confuse religion and patriotism. Indeed. Thank you for modeling it for us.

  5. To have the U.S. National Ensign in a Church or not, I do not care, as long as the Papal Colors are there! (Of course not the most important aspect). Perhaps, the U.S. Flag was added to for aestetics to appease the anti-papists! We do agree on most everything else.

  6. I would have stood, as well, but not in protest. I am just overwhelmed with thanks for those who have given more than I ever could for the freedoms we enjoy (and often take for granted). With all of our nation’s “warts,” we must understand that we benefit from freedoms that others have died for:

    1. Amen. I have this photo on my FB wall. There are I believe many things the “intellectual elite” either forget or fail to grasp at times. There are definitely certain liberties that are afforded because of the “soldier-class” (to reference Aristotle).

      1. And if it means, being therefore like the “progressives” that seem bent on destroying EVERYTHING sacred, then I will humbly and gratefully accepted my lot in the educated and faithful soldier class — defending the Holy Mother Church — maintaining allegiance to the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, and obedience to the Magesterium. (A concept lost by many of the so-called “elite”).

      2. And, furthermore, before one disparages those of those of the soldier class, one might consider the fact these so-called “criminals”, 9as mentioned in a later comment), have in fact by their sacrifice given the so-called “elite” the priviledge to comtemplate “life” and to further the pursuit of ineptness. I very gratefully associate myself with the former, and continue to support the ideal to lay one’s life down for a friend (even a progressive elitist!)

  7. I appreciate your reflections, but every American knows you stand for the national anthem. The person who wrote “remain seated” in the program was deliberately poking a finger in the eye of the collective patriotic American consciousness and should have known quite well (1) that those who are inclined to be uncritically and ostentatiously patriotic would stand anyway, (2) that those who are inclined to be uncritically and ostentatiously critical (I think that’s also possible) of their country would be happy for the excuse to remain seated, and (3) that those who love their country, but not uncritically, might be put in a very uncomfortable position. From your description of the agenda–which seems to have focused more on accentuating the (real!) failings than on celebrating the good, I would say the “remain seated” command was a deliberately divisive manipulation in the course of a left-tilted (Chatauqua!) event.

  8. This post is good food for thought, Fr. Dan.

    But, I wonder if perhaps you are missing something. And, perhaps, the use of the word “zealotry” may be used too quickly.

    Might not both the standing during the national anthem and the kneeling during the Eucharistic prayer be less a result of zealotry — and more a question of doing the thing taught to us at an early age by parents, grandparents and the priests/catechists of our childhood?

    I should conceded that I have great difficulty standing during the parts of the Eucharistic prayer during which kneeling is typically the U.S. custom. For instance, at the Sunday morning Mass at St. Francis Xavier in NYC, the congregation stands during the Eucharistic prayer. But, I do kneel.

    I don’t think I do this out of zealotry. I think I do it because it is the way I was taught during my childhood to show a heightened respect to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I was taught this by the priest at my childhood parish and by my earliest catechists — and, whether correct or not in every circumstance — those lessons run very deep.

    I would say the same may likely hold true for some of those you saw standing during the national anthem. Standing at that time was likely stressed to them by parents and grandparents at baseball games, etc. Perhaps their insistence on standing is not nationalism — but simply holding true to something taught to them at an early age by someone they loved.

  9. Excellent analysis, Dan. What the United States needs is a Truth Commission as in South Africa. Until then we will never face the crimes we and our nation have committed or their immorality.Remaining in a state of denial, we pretend that we have nothing to ask forgiveness for, and the crimes continue.

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