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The Spirit of Christ Shall Rule!

  • 15 September 2019 |
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When Theodore Roosevelt explored the Amazon River in 1913, he had as one of his crewmates Fr. John Zahm, a Catholic priest.  TR was actually good friends with Zahm, who was also a scientist and explorer himself.  Fr. Zahm was a priest from Notre Dame University.

Now, a lot could be said of that anecdote just there, specifically about the priesthood.  But I want to take a different direction and focus instead on evangelization. 

To continue the story: Fr. Zahm ended up not lasting the entire expedition down the River of Doubt.  Roosevelt sent Zahm home once the priest started baptizing the natives they encountered.  This was not part of the mission, in Roosevelt's mind.  (Oh, and Roosevelt did not like how Zahm allowed the natives to carry him in a litter...but that is yet another story for another time.)  Though TR was friends with a priest, he did not hold introducing people to Jesus Christ a priority.

Fast forward three decades.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote this during WWII in a letter to the Catholic hierarchy of the United States:

In victory we shall seek the establishment of an international order in which the spirit of Christ shall rule the hearts of men and of nations. 

That is a pretty bold statement from FDR, the man who defeated Al Smith (a Catholic) and, as I far as I know, did not have any friends who were priests.  Yet I have to applaud FDR.  He recognized what his fifth cousin was unable to see: that the best way to peace and harmony on this planet is through Jesus Christ.  And the way to truly know the earth is to know our God.


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