Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Election of 2012- a teachable moment for our Catholic Children

Tuesday night finally came around and my family gathered around the television set to watch the results come in.  It was roughly around 8 p.m. and it looked like every race was very, very close - not at all what  we had expected to hear from the various pundits.  We finally decided to watch a movie thinking that when the movie was over at 11, we would have a better sense of how the election had gone. The movie ended and we came back to reality in time to see Ohio called for President Obama, and with Ohio - so went the rest of the electoral college.

Over the past few days I've been grappling with this result and what it means.  Clearly now, abortion will never be overturned via the supreme court in my lifetime.  That dream is gone. The door is shut - unless my lifespan is unusually long but even then - it's a long shot. We can probably say good bye to our superpower status as well.  This administration doesn't want a strong military even as a deterrent. What that will mean for us going forward is uncertain. The last hope of ridding us of Obamacare is now gone as well.  It will start to be implemented over the next four years and it will become the new normal. It will become as fundamental to how people view America as Social Security and Medicare. We are an entitlement society. The days of being rewarded for achievement are gone too.  We are also now the national T-ball team  - everyone plays, and everyone gets a trophy - no matter what. Incentive to succeed will be minimized.

And while I am troubled by all of this, there were a few things I wanted my children to remember from this election.

First of all, I had some very deep and prolonged discussions with some folks who were voting for Obama or going third party, and my children were aware of them.  Now they have to see me continue to be civil and even gracious to these folks - just as I was before the election but even more so now.  I do not want my kids to see their mother as a sore loser.

Secondly, I want them to understand that there wasn't a united Catholic vote in this election, mainly because Catholics are no longer united.  It's time for me as a parent to double down on why the church teaches the way she does on so many social issues, from abortion to assisted suicide to the sanctity of marriage. The kids need to know WHAT the church teaches and WHY the church teaches it and they have to have some practice in explaining these things to each other so that they can withstand challenges from outside of their family.

It's also clear that one of the reasons Catholics and Christians can't make their voices heard in the political arena is that we have contracepted and aborted ourselves into a minority view.  The church teaches openness to new life, American Catholics have rejected that teaching.  Tuesdays election was a natural consequence of that rejection.

Lastly, I think we have had an excellent example of how NOT to parent by the American Bishops over the past 50 years.  The bishops have been annoyingly quiet about church teaching ever since Vatican II.  My generation and the generations after that grew up with little to no catecheses at all.  Instead we've learned to follow the magical and imaginary "spirit" of Vatican II instead of the actual documents.  Radical social justice has become our doctrine and dogma to the point that many Catholics think that's more important than the actual Eucharist. But now that the church is being attacked, the bishops are trying to rally the Catholics by exercising their apostolic authority - about 20 years or so too late. Once you give the kids the keys to the car it's kind of hard to get them back.

The future is a darker place in my opinion than it was just a week ago.  But I think there are some things we can do ourselves, and make sure our children learn to do them as well.

  • We have to learn to defend our Catholic faith and conservative political views in a calm, reasonable but compelling manner.  AND we have to find the strength in our convictions to express those views whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Hearts and minds take years to change. We have to start now.
  • We have to learn our Catholic faith and learn it well so that we can teach it to our children.  But more than that we have to LIVE our Catholic faith.  Our kids have to love the Lord and love his Church and hold these things in their hearts while they understand them in their minds. That's the only way to bring others to the faith and to protect our Catholic Faith.
  • Catholics have to be open to new life. Period. And they have to make sure that when they educate these large Catholic families that their parishes and their schools are teaching true Catholicism. 
Be not afraid, because God is in charge; but be prepared that for the Lord a day is like 1000 years.  We may never get to see these little seeds that we start to plant today. 


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