In the late nineteenth century, a New England college dean wrote: "The youth who loves his Alma Mater will always ask, not 'What can she do for me?' but 'What can I do for her?'"
One of his students, a clergyman named George St. John, paraphrased that as a locution to boys when he became headmaster of the Choate School in Connecticut: "Ask not what your school can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for your school." One of the boys who heard that in the 1930s, John F. Kennedy, made the diction more resonant in his inaugural address of 1961: "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." Although he had speechwriters of acumen, one will not gainsay naïve clients of Kennedy for pillaging what was not his own. As Anatole France said, "When a thing has been said and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it."
Today those lines could not be uttered approvingly by the political party to which Kennedy belonged. Because of the exigencies of copy editors, I am writing these lines before the national election, so I refrain from predicting the various state votes. But as a client of Saint Michael the Archangel, who is the patron of my parish, I am confident that this election, because the issues it is engaging are of the highest portent for our moral order, will have results that transcend the consequences of customary politics. This election will have exposed the corruption of the mainstream and social media, by their acquiescence to subjective journalism and the wanton censorship of reports of inconvenient scandals in high places.
Father George W. Rutler. "Take it and copy it" From the Pastor (November 8, 2020).
Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.
Father George W. Rutler is the pastor of St. Michael's church in New York City. He has written many books, including: The Wit and Wisdom of Father George Rutler, The Stories of Hymns, Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ and What They Mean for You, Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943, Cloud of Witnesses — Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.Copyright © 2020 Father George W. Rutler
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