Like Dads and Moms all across America, Peter and I spent election night watching history-in-the-making on TV while taking care of our ordinary family responsibilities: feeding and playing with the kids, changing diapers, washing dishes, medicating headaches and nausea, getting the kids ready for bed, etc. Implicit in this is the lesson that the opportunities and challenges of ordinary life continue in obscurity while the cameras are focused elsewhere. Thanks be to God, the life quest for holiness and happiness can and does continue!
I know it's an oxymoron, but Tuesday's election results present us with a sad opportunity.
As an unashamed pro-life/pro-family voter, of course I find the federal election results overwhelmingly disappointing.
We have put those whose worldview and priorities are deeply flawed in authority over all three branches of the government for at least the next two to four years (until the next congressional election and presidential election, respectively). This will directly lead to the loss of many thousand more innocent lives and will almost certainly involve attempted infringements on our most fundamental rights, particularly in the areas of free speech/freedom of religion and the intrinsic right of parents to raise their families in accord with their principles. This is very sad.
Furthermore, many state initiatives regarding the right to life were defeated (including a very weak parental notification initiative here in CA) and Washington state established a "right" to assisted suicide. More death.
Upon reading this well-reasoned and courageous election eve homily by Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, MO, I also must note that souls who consciously voted in favor of pro-death politicians and measures inflicted grave spiritual damage on themselves, as we do whenever we choose evil over good. Such souls probably would vehemently deny that this is what they have done, and they would probably react with great anger against the messenger rather than heeding the message, but it remains true. When we realize that we have sinned (as we all do many times each day), we must acknowledge the sin with sorrow before God and make a good Confession ASAP, before receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist again. The only serious sin that cannot be forgiven -- that can send us to Hell -- is the one we fail to repent of!
Among the few pieces of good election news was the passage of three marriage amendments (including one here in CA). This was unexpected (at least for me!) and endless court challenges -- already begun -- may yet turn these into defeats for the family.
I think it is entirely appropriate for us to be in mourning for the lives and souls tossed-aside and the vital principles trampled-on. Similarly, I find the jubilation, however moderated, of those who should know better (particularly Church leaders) to be misplaced and, frankly appalling, like dancing on someone's grave. Diplomacy and respect are good; providing aid and comfort to the Culture of Death are not!
Of course, our lives as individuals and as a society are always marked by setbacks. When we hit a setback, we're told from our youth to shake it off and try again, and to repeat this as necessary.
In concrete terms, the setback presented by this election -- which God allowed for His own perfect reasons -- provides a plethora of spiritual and practical opportunities.
Spiritually, we have been given the opportunity, once again, to repent of our own sinfulness (magnified large in this election) and recommit ourselves to striving for holiness. This involves more than simply attending Mass/church services and "being nice"; it is a matter of really trying to love God and our neighbor each day, especially when it's hard. Though it's easy to forget, this is the most important thing!
As St. Teresa of Avila wisely wrote more than 400 years ago:
Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you.On a wider scale, we need to help our children learn the truths of the Faith despite the corrupt culture and to strive for holiness themselves. Then, we need to carry this message into our society, by our families' example and particularly by praying and sacrificing often for an end to abortion and other threats to life, for the needs of pregnant mothers, the ill and the needy, for the conversion of abortionists and anti-life religious leaders and politicians, and for those who stand for life at great cost. We need to be mindful that we are in a spiritual war: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places!" (Ephesians 6:12).
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God. God alone suffices.
Practically, we have to expand and publicize our efforts already well-underway, among them: support our local crisis pregnancy centers, ensure that palliative care is available to the sick, and care for those in need in our families and area.
Furthermore, on the political front, we need to vigorously defend against anti-life legislation! Thankfully, Washington's notorious gridlock and the press of real-world crises may well keep some of the ugliest dreams of President-elect Obama and friends from coming true. But, we will still need to be vigilant in urging our legislators to block any attempts to weaken protections for life and family, chief among them the misnamed "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) that would virtually eliminate choices other than abortion in one fell swoop. And, if some helpful life-/family-affirming legislation should be proposed, of course we should support it just as forcefully!
May God bless us and our nation in this effort!