Philip Roth wrote a novel about what would have happened if Franklin Delano Roosevelt had not won re-election in 1940. The Plot Against America imagines that Charles Lindbergh became president that year instead.
Lindbergh then makes a peace pact with Hitler, instead of committing to the alliance against him. American Jews begin to experience terrifying anti-Semitism, like the Jews in Europe.
The novel centers on one New-Jersey Jewish family.
In an early chapter, they take a family vacation to see the sights of Washington, D.C. They visit the Lincoln Memorial. Dad insists that his two sons carefully read the Gettysburg address, which is chiseled into the marble wall. “All men are created equal.”
Then they return to their hotel and discover that the manager has evicted them from their room. A clerk had mistakenly allowed them to check in. Jews are not allowed.
The fictional father interprets the situation to his sons: We are proud Americans. We love America. America has her ideals, and we cherish them. But the incumbent President of America betrays America by betraying her ideals. What is America? We know by her ideals, which you can read on the wall of the Lincoln Memorial. Not by the current president.
An amazingly moving scene. [NB. Apparently they are working on a t.v. mini-series version of the novel.]
…In 1953, Pope Pius XII made today, November 21, Pro Orantibus Day. He urged Catholics to pray and give thanks for all the cloistered nuns and monks, who spend their whole lives praying for us.
They pray for us. They also strive to live purely by our ideals. A life of contemplation of the truth that does not change.
My point is that Christian contemplatives are like the living Lincoln Memorial of our Church.
Of course the USA is a political reality, with a relatively short history and no divine guarantees. While the Church has not just ideals to live by, chiseled on a wall somewhere–but the living, breathing Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
During this period of time, however, we Catholics reasonably wonder if our current leaders have a grip on how to govern our Church according to her true ideals. So I think this analogy might help us.
No matter who holds office right now, the Catholic Church always has an indestructible, living Lincoln Memorial. The “vanishing center” of the Church. In their hidden chapels and simple cells, all they do is pray. And hope for heaven. And love God and everyone.