Writing my column this week is particularly challenging. My message each week has to be sent to the bulletin publisher by Tuesday afternoon. Today is Election Day in the USA and I will not know its results by the time I send this out. So what should I say?
When I wake up tomorrow, of this I can be assured: God will still be God and Jesus Christ is still King of the Universe.
However, I have good reason to believe our divided nation will not suddenly come together and unite in a euphoric Kumbaya moment. We will still have an astronomical national debt. Laws will exist that the Catholic Church (and I) will continue to oppose (abortion and same-sex marriage being two of the most prominent). The inner cities as well as suburbia will continue to encounter their many economic and social problems well into the foreseeable future. As long as there is a market for them, various illegal (and some legal) drugs will indiscriminately infest our nation. Prejudice will not magically disappear. Government gridlock will exist. The future funding of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare will be debated, but probably not fixed. What about the future of healthcare? In many instances the can will be kicked down the road for as long as possible. I could go on and on.
Will life here in the USA radically change after this election? Will the many campaign promises and slogans (Stronger Together or Make America Great Again) effect the change they desire by the mere rhetoric? Much damage has been done that, in effect, seriously divided rather than united us as a nation. I am not holding my breath waiting for any immediate solution or quick fix.
From a Church perspective, will the election of a new President become some amazing motivating factor causing more people to attend Mass each week? Will I see more people turning to God and radical conversion of lives? I have no delusions that the victor of this year’s election is some national messiah. Sorry. Both major candidates are horribly flawed and are among the two most unpopular in recent history. I am just glad that the campaigning is finally over.
Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus recently proposed six concrete ideas for us as Catholics to lead the way towards unity in our nation. I present them here for your consideration:
First, he said, is “the renewal of parish life as a true Eucharistic community,” with a greater appreciation for the Eucharist as the source and summit of unity, charity and Christian life.
Next, a “renewed evangelization of family life” is needed, “centered upon the calling of every Catholic family to be a domestic church which, in solidarity with other families, would be a source of unity, charity and reconciliation.”
In addition, Anderson said, Catholics should grow in their devotion to Mary as the Patroness of the U.S., seeing in her a model of “understanding our responsibilities toward our neighbors and for the common good as citizens.”
Also necessary is a “deeper understanding of those moral principles and issues that are non-negotiable for us as a faith community,” which leads to a deeper understanding and application of the Church’s Social Doctrine.
A greater commitment to authentic Catholic education that forms the entire person at every academic level is also important for Catholic identity, he said.
Finally, he concluded, the Church in the U.S. needs “a greater appreciation of the office of bishop as the source of unity for the local church” and deeper communication among clergy, religious and laity.
Please continue to pray fervently for our nation! We still have turbulent times ahead.
Fr. Ed Namiotka