In recent visits to some of our Catholic schools, a certain question was repeated: “What do you think about the upcoming elections?” In the voice of the students, there was a sense of confusion and concern. No wonder! These are unsettling times and the political process is characterized by a lack of respectful and proper discourse and dialogue. Emotions are high. Divisions are evident. Anxieties are increasing. So, what do we do?
First of all, we do not despair. We are believers who understand that this nation is under God’s providence and care. God is the One who has the power to transform hearts, minds and behaviors and to make all things new. Thus, as we acknowledge our concerns, we must, more than ever, pray for peace and unity in our land. With an act of faith, we must entrust our great nation to the Lord and His saving power.
Secondly, we must be mindful of our example. We cannot contribute to the divisive words and actions we hear and see around us. Instead, we must engage one another in a spirit of respect, including those who may disagree with our positions. While we must never compromise our core beliefs and deeply held convictions, we must avoid categorizing and labeling others simply because we are not in mutual agreement. In our homes, workplaces and communities, we must be noted for the respect we show to one another as members of God’s holy family, as brothers and sisters in Christ and as fellow citizens. This is an example that our children need to see!
Thirdly, we must bring our faith into the public arena. As citizens, we are called to participate in the process that will elect officials entrusted to serve the common good. Such participation requires that we “do our homework” and not just rely on headlines and blogs. We must know the issues and the positions of the candidates. However, we are not just citizens.
We are called to be faithful citizens. That means our participation in the political process and our votes must be a result of a well-informed conscience molded and shaped by the Word of God with a clear understanding of the teachings of the Church and our reliance on the Holy Spirit. In this way, we contribute greatly to the political process and to the promotion of truth, justice and peace in our world as intended by God, our Creator.
While the Church never tells us for whom we should vote, we are reminded that there are a hierarchy of issues that demand our focus and attention. It begins with the defense of all human life at every stage, the safeguarding of the dignity of each and every person without exception, and the protection of our religious liberty in a land that is safe and secured so that we may freely practice the faith we profess. If these issues are not upheld, then what will follow will be flawed. While it is unlikely that any candidate will agree with us on every position, there can be no compromise in casting our vote for the one who will most effectively protect the sacredness of life and the dignity of each and every person. Pray for the gift of holy wisdom.
While there are reasons for confusion and concern at this particular time in the life of our nation, there is no need to fear or despair if we acknowledge that this nation is under God and in His Son our Lord Jesus we find the wisdom, strength and enlightenment we need. And so we pray:
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in us the fire of your love so that we may always be one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all!