Render unto God…

Was separation of Church and State established way before America?

17 And Jesus answering, said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

As Catholics we believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God.  We are to tie to Him ourselves, we belong to Him who created us.  As Catholics we must be very careful before we lobby the government to take care of the sick, the poor, the educational needs of children, the homeless, etc.   This is God’s kingdom.  These acts of mercy fall on those who bear the image of God.

  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To feed the hungry;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

Here are the spiritual works of mercy:

  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead.

After rereading these responsibilities, I am amazed at how much of God’s kingdom we have given over to government. Even the spiritual works are left to the secularist to define and instruct.  If we are not going to do it, then why have a church?  I understand that taking care of the sick, hungry, naked and the uneducated takes funding, but that should come from us too.  We as a church have educated children, cared for the poor and sick at a cost of pennies on the dollar compared to government funded agencies.  Christ gave the keys to us. We are the ones responsible to serve God’s people.

Mathew 5:13-16  13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

We do such a disservice to those who are in need when we blame the government for not taking care of them.   I am reminded of Mother Cabrini how she would storm into board meetings and demand that businessmen help her in building orphanages and schools.  She lobbied her neighbors.   Elizabeth Ann Seton established the first Catholic School in our country and Saint John Neumann established the first Catholic diocesan school system in our country.  St. John Neumann increased the number of schools in his diocese from one school to two hundred, establishing the seeds of the Kingdom of God.  It is the church militant that set up our modern day school system, hospitals, and food pantries.  We have to keep our God given kingdom and responsibilities.  If we as Catholics were doing kingdom work, government would not need to.  One has to wonder: why does the government want our kingdom and why do so many Catholics want to hand it over to them?

Catholic Charities of New York distributed food on Thanksgiving to people in need.

Our religious obligation to our help our neighbor is different than our obligation to the state. And what happens when the government confuses these obligations? Our country’s First Amendment guarantees our religious freedom, freedom from the government having control of God’s kingdom.  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion… digest this part of the amendment for a minute.  Corporal and spiritual works of mercy is religion.  Have we allowed the government to establish itself as religion?  This is what our founding fathers wanted to protect us from.  …or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; Have we allowed the government to control our free exercise of these acts of mercy?  Are we handing over power of the Church to the government?  Two things that come to mind is marriage and procreation.  The state was never given the power to define marriage.  Only the Church through truth has that authority.  The state does not have the power to control procreation.  That power and authority is reserved for God alone He is the Author of life.

Nowhere else in the world is the church this victorious, because of this amendment. Nowhere else in the world is there a quite a government like ours — established of the people by the people for the people.  We have prospered beyond the imagination of our founding fathers, because of this gift of freedom.

History has proven how tyrants flood and muddy these waters to take away the liberties of others.  So Catholics beware, this is your kingdom and your throne that you are abdicating.  We will be held accountable to the Lord for doing so.

There comes a time when we all will need social justice.  I certainly do not want to rely on the cold hand of some government worker who is over loaded and underpaid to provide for me or my family.  I want the loving hands of my family, and the face of Christ, my church to care for me and my family when we are in need.  I am called to be the loving hands and feet of Christ.  Right now God’s kingdom is my home, where acts of mercy are always tested.  I pray that I perform my responsibilities better than my abilities allow me.



  • Kate

    Say it, sister!

  • Patriot

    Spot on Christie. I have lost faith in our Church and the congregation. It seems that the Gospel is so watered down that it is dead. People have been so misled by the church (not just the Catholic Church) that they have no clue what God tells us about charity. It is so sad to watch this happen to our Church and our Country.

  • Ricky Jones

    Wow Christie. That’s the truth. I had never thought of it that way. Often times I think we expect somebody else, in this case the government, to step up and take care of these tasks. But you’re right we can’t get lazy or complacent in essence handing over our kingdom to the next guy. Thanks for this post.

  • chris groshek

    WOW! That’s a mouthful….thx Christie for reminding us who we are…..

  • Jay


    You are spot on in your comments! A friend and I were just discussing this a few days ago! I hope many people will read your column!

  • Proud Citizen

    I don’t see it as needing to be one way or the other. Private charity is important, but so is building a formal support system within our society to pick up the less fortunate among us when they fall down.

    As you mention, our government is of the people, by the people, for the people. The government isn’t some cold heartless entity, it is a living, breathing extension of us as a people, which should be used to support and carry out the collective values we all share. One of those values should be social support for others.

    Government workers aren’t just “cold hands,” they are fellow citizens, most who hold a sense of faith themselves (as most people in this nation do).

    We need to stop viewing the government as some “other” of which little is expected. It is made up of and governed by our fellow man, and should be held to same the set of values that we would expect from one another.

    • True Catholic

      My church (Catholic) has a budget of $6 million dollars yearly. Most of that goes to our building fund and a remarkable $700K goes to our four priests (salary and medical) and upkeep and cleaning of the rectory (phenomenal that four people that took a vow of poverty require $175,000 per year for salary and living expenses – anyway). Our poor box took in $28,457 in the last 10 months (and I’ve donated 10K of that!). The remaining money goes God knows where – to our diocese, our education and building funds. If our four priests require $175,000 each, I can only imagine what a bishop requires. All in all, we seem to only be interested in helping ourselves. We need to dedicate our lives to halping others, not just helping ourselves. Thank you to the art comittee at my church that just bout a new crucifix for behind our altar though. That was a good way to spend almost half a million dollars and the marble Jesus and the structural retrofit that we had to do sure does make me happy every sunday. I’m sorry to those poor families that we could have fed.

      • Greg Smith

        Dear True: I’m on my parish finance committee and would be interested to see a breakdown of the $700K in your parish budget. How much of that goes for healthcare? Does it include maintenance and repair of the rectory? Most of these are quite old and M&R costs are high. I assume it includes utilities. Are parish office expenses included? I assume and hope that the housekeeper and cook are being paid fair wage and benefits. Diocesan priests do not take a vow of poverty and from what I can see work very, very hard for us. They deserve decent, middle class lifestyle. ~ Pax tecum ~ Greg ~~~PS: My wife is Jewish and when she looks at our pastor, she can’t believe the amount of financial, facilities and other non religious functions dumped on him. “Rabbi’s would never put up with something like that.”

    • Bruce

      The problem is that our current government DOES NOT hold the same set of values as the Church. As she points out; it wishes to define marriage as well as life itself. Certainly we need agencies such as DHHR,but we the people
      should fight back when our governing people are trampling
      on our constitutional/religious rights.

    • Greg G

      Wrong. Where is you faith? In Christ or the Government? Chose you this day….

    • Joe M

      Proud Citizen. Considering that we collectively have limited resources, does it not make sense to examine what form of giving is most efficient? After all, taking money from the economy, in order to help poor or unemployed people doesn’t make much sense if doing so creates poor and unemployed people. Are individuals themselves not to be trusted with knowing how much they can afford to give? Who knows their situation better than they do?



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