I am happy to say that I have already voted. And I know that Fr. Brian Timoney has voted as well. Fr. Lee will vote in person on election day. In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. The obligation to participate in political life is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.”
There is little to suggest that the 2020 presidential election will yield less tension and conflict than previous years. The current atmosphere of political toxicity should concern Christians. The current extreme political climate might tempt us to adopt its hostile rhetoric and dehumanizing tones, rendering us indistinguishable from the world. The stakes in our political rivalries may be high, but we must let our faith work through love (Galatians 5: 6).
We must put politics in its rightful place and not let it dominate our actions, relationships, or priorities. Political affiliation is not our identity. We are to be Christians first in thought, word, and deed. No matter how often you hear commentators declare 2020 “the most important election of our lifetime,” don’t buy into the perspective that the stakes of any one election are greater than the stakes of a compromised Christian life and witness. The sad story of our times is that some of us have let our political identity replace our Christian identity leading to polarization rather than communion.
Nowhere is the growing polarization of our culture more in evidence than in social media. And that’s by design. In his new letter, Pope Francis reflects on how easy it is to be mean on social media sites, where people receive more attention for extreme opinions than fair commentary. "Things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, and people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others," the pope writes. “Catholic leaders aren't immune from the temptation to be rude, he explains, noting that "even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned." There are many well-founded Catholic sites and numerous Catholic blogs whose aim is often to slander and malign fellow Catholics.
Pope Francis encourages Catholics to be more mindful of how their online activities interfere with holiness. He reminds them to log off from time to time in order to draw closer to God and to look for ways to serve others, instead of searching for the perfect comeback. Pope Francis emphasized that social media does not replace the need in the human heart for authentic human community. “By virtue of our being created in the image and likeness of God who is communion and communication-of-Self, we carry forever in our hearts the longing for living in communion, for belonging to a community.”
In conclusion, I would encourage you to engage with one another during this season with civility and love. Let your faith work through love. Remember that “civility is not something that automatically happens. Civil societies come about because people want them to” (Jimmy Bise Jr).
Let us pray for our nation during these days. Let us pray that we continue to witness love and peace. Our church will remain open for prayer from 5.30pm to 7.00pm Monday through Friday. Vote!