Over at America, Father James Martin comes out against patriotic songs at Mass.. His argument rests on the first commandment, worship is due to God alone. Hard to quarrel with that. We cannot put anything else in the place of God, not money, our parents, or our country. That would be idolatry.
However Martin neglects that we do honor our parents, the saints, and a lot of other holy things. The real problem is that often our honor of Mary, the saints, the church, and our country looks far too much like the worship due to God alone
I liked Martin's quote from John Baldovin, S.J., professor of historical and liturgical theology at Boston College as a practical solution:
Frankly, I do not favor patriotic songs like ‘America the Beautiful’ at liturgy. My reason is that they are addressed to the nation and not to God. There are patriotic hymns, e.g., ‘God of Our Fathers,’ ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save,’ ‘This is My Song’—all of these are addressed to God.
I like Baldovin’s solution. “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” paraphrases the ideas in the litany for protection for people who travel by land, sea, and air. I think it is an appropriate entrance or preparation hymn. “America the Beautiful” although it contains invocations to God, seems to address the nation more than God. I would give it a pass only for the recessional, and then only because the recessional is not technically a part of the Mass.
What are your thoughts?