The Lincoln Memorial of the Church

Roth Plot Against AmericaPhilip 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.



2 thoughts on “The Lincoln Memorial of the Church

  1. My late mother’s cousin lived for 50 years in a cloister in East Germany in the order of Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration. I had an opportunity to accompany my mom on a visit to Bautzen, Germany before the divided Germany reunited. I remember her behind the grill and I was amazed at Sister Assunta’s bubbly personality. I wondered at how such a lively woman could live a cloistered life. But clearly she loved her Lord and her vocation. Several years ago the Bishop of her diocese asked her to move into parish life in the city, Dresden, to begin promoting devotion to the Blessed Sacrament for the parish and surrounding community. On a trip to visit relatives near Dresden, my sister and I were able to visit with Schwester Assunta. This woman, this nun… we had no relationship with her other than being the children of her cousin, having only met us once or twice. Yet she cleared her afternoon schedule, prayerfully guided us through “das Tor der Barmherzigkeit” at the Cathedral (door of mercy), and spent three hours with us at a local cafe. She spoke no English yet my sister and I were able to share family news, our joys, and struggles using our poor German language skills, by the grace of God. It was an amazing afternoon. What did I come away with? It was as though I had known her all my life, and that I had this secret weapon, this prayer warrior, in my corner, somene who could connect with others in ways that can only be guided by God’s grace. To God be the glory! She and others who choose this vocation are always in my prayers!

  2. How is it that an order of cloistered nuns can be dibanded because “they pray too much”?
    Yet another arrogant misguided decision by hierarchy. I am sure there is much more to the case. It does not lessen the perception of the attitude of all-male leadership in the Church toward women.

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