U.S. Catholic Christian Voting & Faithful Citizenship

photo credit: WikipediaElection Day on November 8th is fast approaching. Presidential and Vice Presidential debates ensue. People take stances or the lack therefore. Families argue. Friends argue. Catholics argue. Not to be too blunt, but evil feeds off of discord. If you’ve ever read C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, you know that the little forces or the little devil’s minions seek to create discord, disunity, confusion, and hopelessness. Politics and Presidential elections tend to evoke similar qualities.

There is nothing simplistic about faithful citizenship or conscientious voting. The crux of the matter is a “developed conscience.” This developed conscience allows us to make difficult decisions and weigh matters through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As Catholic Christians, we are blessed with less ambiguity when it comes to voting and faithful citizenship. Our Catholic faith provides clarity and sense of direction. There is a hierarchy of evils. Some evils will fatally flaw society more than others. Some policies will strike at the heart of the culture and create discord, confusion, hopelessness, and fraction. Our voting responsibilities reflect that.

Here is the link to the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops’ teaching document entitled “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”  As disclaimed in the intro, this document is to be read in its entirety not selective to support ideology or agenda. I find the document comforting and hopeful. There is a rhyme and reason to faithful citizenship though the lens of our Catholic faith. My voting season became less confusing.

And, yes, many Catholic Christians will argue that defending “right to life from conception to natural death” is not the MOST important voting issue. Without life, there is nothing else. No other important issues or topics. No fundamental grounding principle to enact better systems, policies, and services. Everything becomes relative. We can try but will always be crippled by the fundamental flaw.

Here is one of my more graphic examples. As Catholics, we believe in the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Trinity is the eternal exchange of love between three persons, one God. We believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the love of the Father and Son. We believe the Holy Spirit lives, moves and animates are daily lives and the world around us. We believe that the sexual act is a reflection of Trinitarian love. A child conceived proceeds from love regardless of whether or not the sexual act was loving or not. Directly aborting a child is comparable to killing the Holy Spirit in the Trinity (imagine me slamming my first down on the table for emphasis.) That is fundamentally flawed.

The above document does not tell us exactly how to vote (the whole idea of free will), but guides a Catholic Christian in the formation of their conscience. May the Holy Spirit bless, protect, and guide us in faithful citizenship. Amen.

Weddings, Love, & Submission

Photo Credit: Isaiah Eyre Photography

One of my best friends is getting married this weekend on the Feast Day of St. Therese of Liseuix. A weekend of celebration with family and friends, fancy bridesmaid dresses and suites, and most importantly committing one man and one woman to each other before God and loved ones in the Sacrament of Marriage. The Sacrament of Marriage means an “an outward sign of an inward grace instituted by Jesus Christ.” A living testimony of heaven and earth living in union/communion and poured out to humanity. A reflection of the continual exchange of love shared between the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That is marriage.

What is this “love” that propels Jesus Christ’s instituted sacrament of marriage? A wedding is a day. A marriage is, hopefully, in the original plan of God is intended for a lifetime.  As Jason Evert delicately put it “compatible comes from the Latin word compati, meaning, ‘to suffer with.’ If you are unwilling to suffer with someone until death do you part, then you are not compatible.” Marriage though joyous inevitably comes with sorrow and suffering too. I defer to the ever popular wedding Bible Passage:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Corinthians 13:4-7

How much do you and I really stop, ponder, and prayerfully process this reading? The words are powerful. This isn’t a butterflies in your stomach, roses, and chocolates sort of love. Instead, the above love describes an authentic, not easily attained and maintained love without a tremendous amount of daily grace, humility, and striving with the help of the other Sacraments like the Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation. etc.

Another popular wedding reading is the “submission” bible passage. Women cringe and rant/rave. Men smirk or shift restless in the pew. Sadly, original sin mucked this up. Men are historically and personally susceptible to the taint of original sin in the form of domination or “Lording over.” Woman and children have born the brunt of this taint of original sin throughout the ages. In the Greek and Hebrew,”submission” entails a serious degree of obedience, a gravity of obedience. What does the passage actually say?

 Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word,that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.“For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife,and the two shall become one flesh.”This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband” = Ephesians 5:21-33

This is what I took away from reading the biblical passage above.

  1. Both husband and wife are subordinate to one another.
  2. Wives should be subordinate to their husband as the Lord.
  3. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the Church. WHOA! Hold on one sec. . . . So a husband is suppose to love his wife as Christ loved the Church. Ponder and weep men. You’re called to self-sacrifice, die to your sins and selfish desires for your wife as Christ did for the Church. So crucifixion isn’t out of the job description.
  4. Sanctify her. Cleanse her body by the Word. Who is the word? Christ is the word. Men are spiritually responsible for leading their wives and family to heaven. Sanctification!
  5. Present himself without spot or wrinkle . . . sparkly splendor. i.e., NO SIN.
  6. He who loves his wife loves himself. If the man loves himself, he loves his wife. And if he doesn’t love his wife, he doesn’t love himself.
  7. The man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This means growing up emotionally, spiritually, and mentally as a man. A man can love and honor his parents and family, but cannot his use his family as a selfish, hurtful tool against his wife and children.

Now women, we aren’t off the hook either. We are called to respect these men. Hold them to a higher standard. Call them to better behavior. We can’t drag them into bad behavior and then complain about how awful men are. Sadly, many men and woman wouldn’t want the above relationship. Some will act a certain way but deep down are hypocrites. Many times, we will fall short of the perfect plan God outlined for us. That does not mean it isn’t the ideal.

Please, join me in praying for holy marriages and families. Because only with holy marriages and families willing to sacrifice together in authentic love will peace be in our world. For all those in relationships, engaged, and newly married . . .

May the Holy Family inspire, support, and guide them. AMEN.