I've noticed a curious thing among certain Catholics on the internet. There's a curious disdain from them for patriotism. This isn't limited to merely one side of the political spectrum either. Among left-leaning Catholics (which, thankfully, seem to all be connected with one website) there's an open disdain for the United States, and the love of it. Curiously, love of European countries is viewed as good on this website. With Catholics of a more conservative bent there's an even stranger permutation of this. For some bizarre reason, right leaning Catholics have burning hatred of the federal government (well, that's not bizarre), and a curious pining for the Confederacy (that's the weird one), to the point where they often refuse to use the term Civil War, or acknowledge that slavery even happened in the Confederacy (this is an interesting point, and one I'm going to dedicate an entire post to at some later date). Not to meantion various Lefebvrist sites ranting about Americanism. Both sides bring up inequities in United Staes to justify their dismissal of patriotism.
Now this, to me is very strange. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with patriotism or loving one's country. I was raised a good, God-fearing boy in the backwoods (well, suburbs actually) of New Hampshire. I was taught that God was good, my Church was good, and my country was a good place to be. When Pope Benedict came to the U.S. he praised various aspects of the United States. Which is good, but to an extent not relevant to my point, since I don't want to get into a quote-off as I like to call them (for those that don't know, a "quote-off" is when two people in argument simply quote other people back and forth to each other without an serious consideration of the other's side, or attempt at reasoning through a disagreement). I just mention it because I figure the Pope is probably a good Catholic, and this shows that good Catholics can say good things about my country. But again, I'm not so much concerned with the United States specifically, as I am with patriotism generally. Can a French Catholic love France, with all of its problems and inequalities, and still be a good Catholic? Or an Iraqi Catholic love Iraq? An Egyptian and Egypt? Columbian Catholics and Columbia?
For my part, it seems good to me that a man loves his country. I think a man should love his own country for the same reason he should love his wife; not because she is perfect, but because she is his. The patriot doesn't think that his country is Utopia, a place of perfection where there is no suffering (a Catholic patriot especially shouldn't think that). Certainly he may see more strengths than one who hates his country, but the patriot doesn't live in fantasy world. He looks at the serious problems his country has and, as far as is in his ability to affect, he seeks to correct them. The Catholic patriot also recognizes that the New Jerusalem is not possible this side of the grave. He recognizes that there will never be a perfect country anywhere in the world. Knowing this, however, should not lead him to complacency, on the contrary, it should lead him to do as much good as possible, because he never knows when the world's last night will be.