My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
I begin these thoughts with the prayer from Scripture; that of Ephesians, Chapter 1. The prayer of St. Paul moves from God and Christ to the Ephesians and the church. St. Paul asks that the blessing imparted by God the Father be strengthened in the Ephesians through the message of the Gospel, for the Ephesians were somewhat fickle in following Jesus and thus, losing hope.
During this month of October, we again pray to God our Father to enlighten the eyes of our hearts because we too are losing our way along His right path. The eternal promise of hope is lost in our darkness. From where does this darkness arise? Some of you have blamed the pandemic, others the season of politics, others the turmoil of disasters such as fires or hurricanes. No, I don’t think it is any of these. I think the darkness is born within our own lack of focus on the essential, that is God.
I ask you, especially you who have expressed a sullenness, or a feeling is disenfranchisement, to think about your prayer life. Do you praise God upon arising? Do you keep God close in your heart as you go about your daily living? Is God a part of your being — always present as you encounter others? Do you smile each day because of the joy of His Presence? Do you kiss your spouse, your children with the unitive love of God?
I also ask you to think about the idols you have created within your own life. These idols may include money or a political party or Facebook or other social media or television or news or virtual games or particular people. Can you eliminate participation in the worship of these idols? What other difficulties have arisen because of these idols—expressed disrespect for each other or agitation during conversations? How can you fill the time instead with prayer or other gifts of God?
As we read Scripture, God reveals to us that the lamentations of today are not so different from those during the time of the Ephesians. We read in the letters of St. Paul about social unrest, the difficulties of sickness, disregard for the poor, derision for people of other faiths and race, physical violence and persecution. We could say, “that was then, but now is different because we are strong in our faith.” I have only to read your letters or speak with you to know that is not always the case.
Soon, the election of legislators, judges, and the president will be occurring. We are called to practice faithful citizenship which means that we must do our research on the candidates and prayerfully discern which candidate will follow the teachings of Christ while he/she is in office. This discernment is not easy because we do not know how a person elected to an office will follow the teachings of Christ, even if he/she professes to be a person of faith. We make the best decision on how to vote based upon our research and prayer. We must ask God to guide us.
Among the premier concerns for Catholics when we vote are: Who will protect human life at every stage? Who will protect natural marriage and the family? Who will offer care for the forsaken? Who will defend the right of people to live out their faith in every sphere of society?
We must also keep in perspective that no one elected to office will be the Savior. No candidate will be the fiat for all the teachings of our faith while he/she is in office, no matter his/her own faith. We seek the best candidate. We live proclaiming that our Savior is Jesus Christ and we are forever bound to Him through the Sacraments of Initiation. Thus, as St. Paul says to the Ephesians, we ask that our eyes of our hearts be enlightened that we deliver to each other the hope that Christ offers to us. We do this through prayer transcending our daily living.
God is our ballot. Religious freedom is on our earthly ballot. There are many ways in which religious freedom is compromised. Let us not be party to that. Out of compassionate charity for each other and for those who will come after us, let us turn away from our idols and follow God. Let us be models of faithful citizenship and research the candidates running for the offices of the upcoming local, state and national elections. Let us pray for God’s wisdom to choose well. Let us not fail our vote for Him.
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, so that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.