As I’ve previously mentioned on several occasions, I sometimes have to write my column before a major event that I would like to write about, but have no ability to predict. This week I am writing just prior to Election Day. While it’d be nice to have the power of flawless prediction, I’m going to stick to something I am much more familiar with
: aimlessly typing until I hit about 700-800 words.
But in all seriousness, since it is unknown how Election Night will end or whether the election will properly end on Election Night, I want to offer some points of reflection. I hope these thoughts provide an opportunity for prayer and contemplation as we find ourselves on the other side of what has been a demanding 2020 election season.
Dispositions of the Heart. Now that the chips have fallen and the outcomes have been determined, where do I find my own heart? What is my disposition toward the results and the election? Have I experienced anger? Joy? Sadness? Contentment? Neutrality? Some other movement of the heart? How have I allowed these experiences to help me more deeply understand my own attitude toward politics and, more specifically, toward elections?
How have I been toward my neighbor? Have I approached my political opponents and adversaries with the heart of Christ? Have I engaged them in charity? Or have I demeaned them because of their political positions or the outcomes of their preferred candidates?
How have I allowed the 24/7 news cycles and endless newspapers articles and social media posts to affect my heart? Have I allowed them to be an all-consuming reality of my everyday existence? Have I approached them with a healthy attitude? How have these various forms of media formed the way I interact with my family, friends, co-workers? Has it been for the better? Or for the worse?
How has this particular political season helped my growth in virtue? Or has it driven me into vice? Or something in between these two things? What can I learn from this experience in order to become more fully alive, more fully human, as Christ desires of me? How can I take these experiences and allow them to help me become a saint?
If you are like me, these are likely some tough questions, but they deserve answers so we can better know ourselves as we journey toward sanctity.
Put Not Your Trust in Princes. The Psalms are always rich in wisdom. We can never fail by turning to them. We hear the authentic and loving voice of God when we turn to Scripture.
Psalm 146 has these words for us: “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth…. The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!”
Regardless of who wins the presidency—Donald Trump or Joe Biden; regardless of who wins your local legislative district race or regardless whether your favorite candidate pulled off his long-shot race to become the city dog catcher; regardless of all these things, we must always maintain a “spiritual distance” from what they may or may not bring to politics, for none of them can perfectly bring about the justice and mercy that God alone can bring.
While we can demand that our new slate of elected officials “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God”—as the Prophet Micah puts it—we must recognize their limitations as princes and princesses in this world. Our expectations of their possibilities must be limited by the mere fact of their humanity.
Christ is King. In all of this, we must turn to Christ Who is ultimately King of the Universe. He alone is Lord. As we enter into this month of November and approach the final days of Ordinary Time, we would do well to consider the great Solemnity of Christ the King that awaits us.
Given the results of this election how will I continue to look to Christ’s Kingship? How will the desires of His Most Sacred Heart guide my politics in the days, months, and years ahead? Will I serve Him above all things and rightly order everything else in politics to the Heart of Christ?
These are the thoughts I leave you with for now. I hope they are thoughts that prove beneficial to your spiritual welfare, and to the spiritual welfare of our great nation.