Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Response to the 2008 Elections

Father John J. Lombardi

My first reaction to the 2008 Elections is what my spiritual director says, quoting St Paul, "Here we have no continuing city" (Heb. 13:14) Translation: Keep on truckin'.

I was just inspired this morning when I walked into our Glass Chapel and a wonderful Catholic lady-mother said, out of the blue: "Father, I want to get involved, become an activist and help in the pro-life movement." It was Monday morning (but not really) if you know what I mean.

We may be disappointed in some of the results of the election but must always remember God is still our providential Lord.

St Francis deSales said: "Be not miserable about what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father, who cares for you today, will care for you tomorrow."

In the 2008 post-election, Catholics and Christians will realize the possibility of more abortion and the extremist-liberalizing F.O.C.A. abortion act may be offered. There will be more gambling especially Maryland; there will be fewer pro-life legislators. We have a high profile Catholic who is an abortion promoter. Stem cell research may ensue. There's now a more favorable openness to Planned Parenthood which one high profile politician gave an enthusiastic speech to and approval of. Probably more federal funds will go to support abortions overseas and same -sex marriages will be re-proposed.

In response to all this we Christians may seek a balance between the extremes of "naivisim" and negativism. Negativism is a gloom and doom attitude about the results feeding off the spiraling negative vibes (over-exposing to news and even friends complaints); and just "putting too many eggs in one basket" by despairing that politics has failed us. Actually, not all is politics, remember, we are Christians, folks! The other extreme to avoid is "naivism" which, consciously or not, does not detect the seriousness of possible oncoming changes proposed by some politicians. This is the ostrich-in-the-sand stance and is termed "irenicism" or false peace.

The middle balance answer for this writer-priest includes what Vatican Council II observed, "there are many good signs in the world today and there are many challenging and dark signs also which we cannot ignore and need to address."

So, following that Council, here is a "Middle Path" of response to the election results:

  1. While acknowledging that there are serious forebodings (listed above), we do need await some battles to see if they come to pass; to discern others and ones we should avoid.
  2. We need to do what we can in the social-political sphere and accept what we cannot change.
  3. Pray and fast and sacrifice for our leaders that they acknowledge the God-given natural law (that is within all our hearts, which is knowable, and do-able.

We should also realize two big victories: In California and Florida traditional marriage will stay in place and not "domino" to other places. In responding, remember, we all need inspiration; "sermons and words in action." I recall meeting a lady recently praying at an abortion clinic on a very cold day, who asked me to, "pray that God allow her and others to buy a building right near the abortion clinic so they could use it to offer ladies hope and pro-life services." She had this intense "focusedness" I will not forget; witness, pray to God, act and hope.

Also, I was absolutely inspired just after talking to a pilgrim who was depressed over the elections results last week. I became energized later when two families expressed their response to the elections saying, what we need now is for our Catholic Church to stand up to "culture-of-death" politicians; to be counter-cultural more assertively, and to inspire others to the Faith which challenges injustice instead of being sheepishly politically correct and "nice." The biggest thing about them is they were enthusiastic. I could see they were dedicated disciples and in for the "long haul." They were a needed pump-in-the-arm for me.

We all err on the extremes and need balancing. Some people "extrematize" and think God and government should absolutely go together (Islamists). Meanwhile, others want to retreat from any kind of government entanglements (Amish).

Remember, the saints and martyrs didn't cave in, flee the scene or despair-or "extrematize." They got engaged and witnessed thru their faith and life like St. Thomas More could have walked away from his difficult duty but instead stood up to a tyrant king. When Henry VIII wanted an illegitimate divorce granted as well as control of the church, Thomas chose not to retreat or cave in. He challenged the King to remember the King and Kingdom of Jesus, and for this Thomas became a martyr.

So, Catholic and Christian keep going forward. You cannot think too much or give into despair. The Catholic Church needs forward the faith; to rise up, work together, petition and protest if need be, and to support pro-family, pro-life and pro-poor politicians. We need to hope for what we cannot change, change what we can and know the difference. We need to learn how to balance being in the world, engaging the political sphere, while not being of the world for our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil 3:20).

Last week I talked to some friends in San Francisco and if you think we have it bad here, think again! I was serenely startled by their faith, enthusiasm and vision. They said we need to keep fighting for babies, families and human personhood. We need to help our bishops, to march for life and witness the Faith in whatever legitimate ways we can. Now is time for courage.

Here's the key: "Spiritual sublimation," i.e. to direct that God-given energy you have, not inwardly into darkness and depression, but rather into zeal and action on behalf of justice. Love God and His people for the long haul. Hang around the right-enlivened people and not "gloomy-doomers." And pray to get energized again and again.

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi