A Foundation of Faith, Hope, and Love

Posted on May 31, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, June 5, 2016, 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Black pebble with engraved message "love, faith, hope."Our readings this weekend put faith on center stage. As one of the theological virtues, faith is a gift given to us by God along with hope and love. Working together with hope and love, faith puts our lives and relationships in proper order and orients us toward Truth. I recently found myself moved by a YouTube video I stumbled upon entitled: “Young Man Battles Cancer With A Smile.”  The young, twenty-seven-year-old father featured in the video is certainly a person who has opened himself to his relationship with God, receiving all of the blessings and gifts these virtues can bring.

This young dying father is not afraid of death and is grateful to God for the blessing to live every day in peace with an appreciation for the present moment. He remarks that he gets to spend every day with people he loves and that he is inspired to try to help people, confident that the Lord has big plans for his little baby girl. We so often see death as the enemy and allow its sting to bring us into bitterness and resentment rather than allowing death to transform us and put things into perspective. The widow in our first reading from the Book of Kings exemplifies this. Her journey with her son leads her from a place of doubt to a place of faith.

In his encyclical Spe Salvi Pope Benedict remarks that “the one who has hope lives differently.” How true those words are! The young father in the video has the faith to look two seemingly opposing things square in the eye … his impending death on one hand and his baby’s smiling face on the other … and still find peace. Underneath all that is happening to him is the foundation built of faith, hope, and love upon which he sits.

We get disappointed because we want God to fix things our way. A person without a strong faith can easily look at this young father with cancer as proof that God does not exist. After all, why would a loving God allow such a thing to happen? To many, it is inconceivable that God does not heal all ills, wipe away all tears, and correct all injustices. This “surface” approach to faith fails to see the deeper mystery that undergirds all things and the deeper truth about who we are.

There is an ironic twist to life, especially to a life of faith. When we become less concerned about ourselves, we actually find our true selves. When the center of our focus shifts from a narcissistic glance to a perspective that is “other focused,” things change and doors open. The widow from Nain in today’s Gospel never requested a healing or intervention from Jesus. Jesus entered her life and was moved with pity. The miracle that resulted was done at his request not the widow’s.

At the basis of discovering the first theological virtue, faith, is the realization and trust that God always has our best interest in mind. He knows our needs better than we do and can see the larger picture of life in a way that far exceeds ours. Once we let go of our need to cling to ourselves, we begin to see these miracles happen. We discover the right words to say in a situation where we may be at a loss; we may find ourselves crossing someone’s path and feel moved to reach out to them; a wise decision may come forth from our lips in spontaneous fashion or we may instinctively know which decision is best. These are just small ways in which we can see that we are being led to something greater just like the young father who realizes that life will soon ask that he, his wife, and his baby daughter now travel down different-though linked-paths.

It is important to truly love another human being. Unless we do so we will never escape the trap of self-focus. Yes, loving brings pain but it also brings a sense of joy and fulfillment found in no other place. Spiritual master Richard Rohr often speaks of the need to lose yourself and even speaks of parents having children as a way of outgrowing their “youthful narcissism.” The key to true happiness is locating your center outside of yourself. Our young father did precisely this. Rohr states: “The more you become yourself, the more capable you are of not overprotecting your false boundaries. After all, you really have nothing to protect. That’s the great freedom and the great happiness of truly converted people. There’s no longer a little self here to fuss over or pander to. The little self which you thought you were has passed away.”

St. Paul knew this well too. His Letter to the Galatians this weekend is a beautiful passage describing his own coming to faith. Paul could have continued to be self-focused and pursuing his selfish ambitions but he did not. His journey brought him from persecution to belief. He knew that his decision would involve living with suffering, not avoiding it. Faith, hope, and love brought him not only deeper into life’s difficulties and heartaches but into its glory as well.

Faith and confidence go hand in hand. Leaving the familiar and venturing into the unknown is always scary. Even our psalmist this weekend realizes that suffering and despair are never the end for the person of faith. “Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me; O LORD, be my helper. You changed my mourning into dancing; O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.”

Now, take a moment to look at your life. Consider your joys, your struggles, your sorrows, and your fears. Do you really believe that God has your best interest in mind and will help you achieve what is best for you? Once we realize that we are not the center of gravity and that our true center is really found outside of ourselves, then we will no longer feel compelled to pray for what we think we need or want. We will realize that prayer is about deepening a relationship with God, receiving and being surprised by God’s three special gifts of faith, hope, and love, and meeting what life brings each day. There is always life; there is no death.

Rev. Mark S. Suslenko

PRAYER

O my God, I firmly believe
that you are one God in three divine Persons,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I believe that your divine Son became man
and died for our sins and that he will come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe these and all the truths
which the Holy Catholic Church teaches
because you have revealed them
who are eternal truth and wisdom,
who can neither deceive nor be deceived.
In this faith I intend to live and die.
Amen.

—Act of Faith from the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, © Copyright 2005 Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

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Summertime Should Be Mindful Time

Posted on May 31, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

tracyCan you believe that Summer is here? If you are reading this outside of the US, Summer might not be as near, but here in the United States we just celebrated the unofficial start to Summer – Memorial Day weekend.

Pools are open, grills are cleaned, and school is coming to a close. We just spent a day remembering those who gave their lives in service to our country. Today, we must not forget them, but live in the freedom their sacrifice helped provide. But, thinking about those have passed away made me think about how important it is to be mindful of those who are with us today since they will not be with us forever.

In fact, summer is an important time to be mindful of our relationships and make time to be with those who mean something to us. Being good stewards of our time means we make the time to connect with each other.

Quality time is not just time filled with activities, but also time filled with conversation and resting in each other’s presence. We can too easily become comfortable giving little or no real attention to others in our lives. We become engrossed in our cell phones, video games, Netflix, etc.

Mindfulness helps us not take others for granted. We try to always stay aware of where we are and who is near us. We are able to more easily see opportunities to connect in a meaningful way with those we care about.

We realize that the time presented to us each day will not come again, so we really try to seize the day.

It is so important to remember those who have passed from this life. Their earthly existence help to shape the meaning for our lives. However, it is tragic if we disregard those who are still with us. If only our love prevented us from wasting time. But we are human.

We must choose to share our love for in cannot share itself. We need to use our time wisely, for time is a precious gift we have in limited supply.

Jesus is the Melody

Posted on May 26, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

EucharistWhen I was younger, for many years I helped lead the music for our parish liturgies. The “more grand” liturgies stand out to me: First Communion, Confirmation, Christmas, etc. It was at one of those First Communion Masses where I learned an important lesson.

As musicians at liturgy, you really play a key role in providing a sense of movement to the entire experience. Between moments of spoken prayer and petition, you provide a way for all assembled to pray with song. Sometimes, you make decisions at the moment for the sake of keeping the liturgy “moving.”

When it was time for Communion, we played throughout the entire time, and I did not allow a time for us as musicians to receive ourselves. I had hoped that this would be noticed and after our playing had concluded, someone would offer us the Eucharist. They didn’t. At first I thought, “Unfortunately, that’s just the way it goes.” One of our musicians did not see it that way and was upset. He said to me, “What am I here for anyway?”

My assumption without thinking much about it that day was that our presence was to lead music. However, I had missed it. Even though we played an important role at the liturgy, the reason we were there was Jesus. No matter how beautiful our music could be or how well the congregation sang, our primary purpose of being there was just like everyone else’s: Jesus.

Our stewardship is very important, but at no time does it become the main thing. Our generosity and commitment of ourselves points to that which matters the most. When we lose sight of why we are doing something and whom we are doing it for, our actions can become hollow. The music of our efforts offers praise to the One who makes that melody even possible in the first place.

Where the World Ends and Heaven Begins

Posted on May 24, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, May 29, 2016, Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Angel at the border of heaven and earth.

Panis Angelicus fit panis hominum.
(May the bread of Angels become bread for mankind.)

This world is not always the easiest place to live. Few would mistake our earthly existence for heaven. Yet, we live in hope of heaven because God crashed into human history through the Incarnation, Jesus Christ, who redeemed this fallen world by his death and resurrection. Feeding our hope even more is that Jesus chose to remain present to us in this world in a very real way through the holy Eucharist. At the altar, we see where this world ends and heaven begins.

There has been an increased emphasis in US parishes and dioceses on the holy Eucharist in recent years. Adoration chapels, eucharistic adoration among the young and old, and Holy Hours seem to be more common than they were just a decade ago. As we seek greater assistance in living within this world, we are looking more and more to this food of the angels spoken about eloquently by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Panis Angelicus. Our presence at the Mass, our reception of his body and blood, and our time spent in resting in his presence are all ways we bridge our own world with heaven and receive sustenance for our earthly journey.

Even with this reality, many of us have fallen into a type of apathy toward the holy Eucharist. We watch television shows about the supernatural, are intrigued by stories of apparitions and visions, and do lay research on life after death, yet when we come face-to-face with the real presence of Jesus Christ we can seem distracted and even unaware. The greatest miracle can be witnessed every day on the altars of churches all over the world, yet when Jesus’ face seems to appear on a piece of toast, that’s when we take notice. Many of us in the Church have become complacent and too comfortable and fail to truly notice when heaven actually breaks into our everyday reality.

During a recent presentation, I was questioned about my use of the word radical when describing the life that we are called to by Jesus Christ. In today’s world, the word has such a negative connotation. We speak of those who have been radicalized as preaching hatred, distorting religious doctrine, and turning to terrorism. Those who seek to bring something other than love into the world have hijacked the word and concept.

However, no one can deny that Jesus was pretty radical. He sought to break apart the status quo and bring discomfort to those who had become all too comfortable in their own interpretation of God’s law. Jesus’ passion and resurrection as redemption for all creation can only be seen as a movement of radical love. Furthermore, the reality of Jesus being present to us in the appearances of simple bread and wine is certainly outside of the confines of logic and common sense. We are disciples of the One who gave meaning to the word radical.

Have many of us in the Church become too comfortable and too mainstream? Have we allowed others to monopolize the idea of what it is to be countercultural, subversive, and even radical, because we have been anything but these things? Pope Francis would perhaps say, “yes!” He is a pope that is anything but a reflection of the status quo. His actions and words have confronted and challenged us all. Are we not called to more than that which makes us comfortable? When the Church canonizes Blessed Mother Teresa later this year, she will hold up for us all an example of true radical faith. The Jesus in her constantly sought to minister to the Jesus in the poor and forsaken. She would say, “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.” Should her example of radical discipleship not call us all out of our apathy toward a greater empathy for the children of God?

On this solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, it is time to awake from our slumber as church and reclaim our role as disrupter of the status quo and mainstream. We need to bring love into the world’s landscape with a much greater intensity than those who bring hate. We need to bring healing and comfort where others bring pain and death.

The Bread of Life will be our nourishment for this task at hand. Let us stand in awe at the altar and then rush forward to receive him, instead of slowly strolling toward our Redeemer as if we were asleep. Let us not remain complacent, but instead allow this gift from heaven to stir our hearts. When we look at the holy Eucharist, let Jesus ask us each and every time, “Who do you say that I am?”

If enough of us allow this food of the angels to change us, then the world will really see something radical. They will see a little heaven on earth.

Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

PRAYER

Panis angelicus
fit panis hominum;
dat panis caelicus
figuris terminum:

O res mirabilis:
manducat Dominum
pauper, servus et humilis.

Te trina Deitas
unaque poscimus:
sic nos tu visita,
sicut te colimus;
per tuas semitas
duc nos quo tendimus,
Ad lucem quam inhabitas.
Amen.

From Sacris Solemniis by St. Thomas Aquinas

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A Bit of God in All of Us

Posted on May 17, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

I remember being in first grade and making my mother a coffee mug for Mother’s Day at school. It was made of plastic, but I made a drawing on paper that would then be placed on the outside of the mug. I was so excited about making it because in it there was a little bit of myself. I didn’t always believe my mother when she said that the best gifts I could give her were things I made myself, especially since even as a little kid I knew some of the things I created were not so wonderful. But this mug was different. It just seemed so cool, and of course, my mother loved it.

Now she is long gone from this world, but the mug still remains. It is mine now, resting on a high shelf in our kitchen cabinet. No one uses it, but I know it is there. It reminds me of her, but at the same time, it was always a part of me. I gave her a part of me, she cared for it and loved it, and then it was returned back to me. Now it is a part of me, and a part of her also.

We are each fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and like a child giving a part of himself to his mother in his creation, there is a little bit of the Divine in all of us. We are made in God’s image, and when he looks out at His creation, he knows us as His own. But you and I will not walk this earthly creation forever. For just like the mug that came back to me, we will return to our Creator. We will join with God in an eternal relationship where we are made perfect so that we may be in union with Him forever. Rejoice, for He has created you as special, has found great delight in you, and you are His own.

Claiming the Holy Trinity

Posted on May 17, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, May 22, 2016, Most Holy Trinity

Detail of painting of the Trinity.

The day after Pentecost Sunday, we re-entered the “green days” of ordinary time. These are the days, weeks, and months when we are given a breathing space to allow the seeds of faith planted within us during our celebrations of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost to begin to take root and grow within us, enriching our lives and allowing us to be transformed by the mysteries we celebrated. In this sense, these days are, in fact, extraordinary time—a time to reflect, remember, and to renew our commitment to live as disciples of the Risen Lord.

Of course, on Pentecost Sunday we recalled how the Holy Spirit came to Mary, the apostles, and the holy women in the upper room (cf. Acts 1:13-14). But part of the wonder of that first Pentecost was the unity—the communion—created by the Holy Spirit, who brought those faith-filled women and men together as the church. This was symbolized by the fact that diverse people from different lands, who spoke different languages, heard those first Christians speaking in a language that everyone was able to understand. The Holy Spirit had empowered the church to praise God and proclaim the good news with one voice! Individuals who had been isolated by their own fear and uncertainty had entered into a new relationship with one another, drawn together by nothing less than the power of God.

This Pentecost-wonder carried through into our ordinary time celebration of the Most Holy Trinity. It’s almost as if the church brought together, in a single solemn feast, the creative, saving, and sanctifying work that we celebrate in all the other great feasts of the church year. But Trinity Sunday also gives us a chance to recall that the God whom we adore is “one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity” (from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 266).

This truth about God invites us to consider how all of our relationships are reflections of that unique and dynamic relationship that exists within God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the great gift for us is that we are constantly being invited to be part of that relationship, to live in the love of God.

Reflecting on this, the spiritual writer Henri Nouwen wrote that he was convinced that “most human suffering comes from broken relationships. Anger, jealousy, resentment, and feelings of rejection all find their source in conflict between people who yearn for unity, community, and a deep sense of belonging. By claiming the Holy Trinity as home for our relational lives, we claim the truth that God gives us what we most desire and offers us the grace to forgive each other for not being perfect in love” (Behold the Beauty of the Lord).

It is this “claiming the Holy Trinity” that Saint Paul spoke of in his Letter to the Romans: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand … because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (5:1b-2, 5).

All of this having been said, we have to accept that human language fails us when we try to describe or explain the nature of the Trinity or how we share in that divine relationship. It is the dynamic life and love of the Trinity itself, and our experience of the Trinity—that “claiming the Holy Trinity”—that makes it real for us.

In the end, our celebration of the Most Holy Trinity is an invitation for us to continue to move beyond our selves. The feast reminds us of the powerful ways that God remains at work in the world: in the ongoing act of creation, in the perduring gifts of healing and redemption, and the life-giving Spirit that inspires faith, hope, and love. This is something extraordinary to remember and celebrate each and every day of ordinary time.

Silas S. Henderson, MTS

PRAYER

O most Holy Trinity—
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—
I adore thee profoundly.
I offer thee the most Precious Body, Blood,
Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ—
present in all the tabernacles of the world—
in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges,
and indifference by which He is offended.
By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
and the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

The angel of Fatima’s prayer to the Most Holy Trinity.

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Breathe Through Me

Posted on May 13, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

My youngest son has occasional bouts with asthma. When it hits him, he feels like he is almost drowning, gasping for air. It is a terrible thing to think about, suffocating with no option for air.

Luckily, an inhaler opens up that which was closed and air comes rushing back inside his lungs.

The Latin words spiritus and spirare mean “breath’ and “to breathe.” It is how we get the word spirit and the name, Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit in us that gives us breath. Some describe the Spirit as that which provides life and animation to all living things, a life force of sorts.

In essence, we live and breathe the Spirit all around us.

I have to admit, that is not as concrete an explanation of the Holy Spirit as I would like. But what I do know is that when the Spirit came upon the apostles at Pentecost, they were undeniably changed and a force came through them that they recorded like a “strong driving wind.” This enabled them to proclaim the Good News in a way that was previously impossible.

When I see my son trying so hard to breath, it is like someone or something has robbed him of his spirit, or the Spirit, and he has to struggle. When his ability to breathe is returned to him, he is well again and able to accomplish anything he sets his mind to do.

If we were more mindful of our breathing as the Holy Spirit moving through us, I think we would act much differently than we do sometimes. We would be better stewards and just better people.

On this Pentecost, may the Spirit that you breathe in each and every day fill your heart and soul with the desire to do great things and do them well!

“I was scared when you touched my lips
And the breath I took was the breath
That shook me with a shock,
Like a flame as eternal as the song and the song is you

I will let you breathe through me.
I will let you be with me.”

-Excerpt of lyrics from Breathe, sung by Maria McKee. © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Loving Presence

Posted on May 12, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

In my experience, the most common phrase used to express sympathy to someone who has lost a loved one is “I’m sorry for your loss.” It’s a very nice sentiment and I believe everyone who uses it means it.

But like any oft-used expression, its overuse can minimize the impact. We use phrases like this because they do express how we feel and we are often at a loss for words during times of great grief, be it death or any other life devastation.

But it would be inaccurate to think that the sixth Spiritual Work of Mercy – comforting the afflicted – is merely about the words we use. Certainly words are important, but during times of affliction and grief it’s our actions not our words that bring the greatest comfort and what will be remembered most by those who are suffering.

There are many things we can do to help alleviate the suffering of someone, depending on the circumstances, but one thing that is most always helpful is presence.

The word compassion literally means “to suffer with” – and presence is that indeed. To sit with someone when they are hurting, even in silence, is an act of compassion and mercy.

Christianity is a religion of presence and ‘suffering with.’ The Gospel of John says “the Word became flesh and dwelt with us.”  God came to be with us and to suffer with and for us. He came to comfort the afflicted by both his words and deeds:  “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

So if you’ve ever worried about what to say to someone when they are struggling, remember that words often fail at those times and your loving presence will mean so much more.

Wind and Fire

Posted on May 10, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, May 15, 2016, Pentecost Sunday

http://go.4lpi.com/rs/418-VMI-344/images/MR_May15.jpg

The house shook! Doors slammed! Curtains billowed! The winds screamed as they raced through the house! Was there a trace of smoke riding along? Even the patio screen door banged open! Our hearts began racing with fear of a tornado. Should we seek shelter? There was no basement in this summer lake house. There had been storm warnings, but no wailing sirens in the middle of the night. After about fifteen minutes, Mother Nature seemed to go back to sleep and so did we. The next day the media reported deaths and injuries from nearby tornadoes. Our short-lived fear had a basis.

Later that week, the winds roared through Fort McMurray in Alberta. Those winds whipped fire into that oil sand region causing 88,000 people to flee through tunnels of fire. They abandoned their homes and property, running for their lives. Many lost everything. This region, which produces a million barrels of oil per day, collapsed into chaos, victim of wind and fire.

Wind and fire leave chaos in their wake … disorder, destruction, and even loss of life, both human and animal. Chaos! We humans are left simply standing and staring, not knowing where to begin. But begin we must, just as nature renews after the devastation.

On that first Pentecost there was wind and fire in Jerusalem! Buildings were not destroyed. Property wasn’t burned, but there was chaos. That fire tornado blew through the whole known world. Everything was turned topsy-turvy. Lives were completely redirected. Long-standing institutions were faced with challenges never expected. There was fear … fear of change and fear of new directions. The Spirit of God, the very breath of God, blew mightily. It brought new life to our human race, just as the breath of God brought life to Adam, the first human, in the Garden of Eden.

Inevitably, the chaos of fire and wind brings fear. It also brings excitement and heightened awareness. The challenge of catastrophe brings out the best and the worst in people. If there are looters, there are also heroes. Fire Captain Adam Bugden of Fort McMurray emotionally stated, “I’ve met more heroes in this experience than I ever thought existed.” The same could be said of the fire and wind of Pentecost. Our heroes have names: Peter, Stephen, Paul, Barnabas, Mark, John. Down through the ages the number of heroes has grown into multitudes. How does this happen?

“The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” The Holy Spirit is, in reality, the very breath of God. According to the Ruah Woods website, “Ruah means both wind and breath – sometimes as subtle as the flap of the wings of a dove or a whisper at the mouth of a cave.” No chaos here. The breath of God brings peace and harmony. The breath of God brings courage to would-be heroes.

We need to be open to that breath. The winds of the Spirit, the fire of the Spirit, are with us, still. Chaos may be present in our world and in our lives, but we have the Spirit with us always! The Spirit of peace deep in our hearts.

“Breathe on Me, Breath of God” is a popular Gospel hymn by Edwin Hatch that prays:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Patricia M. DeGroot

PRAYER

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
     Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
     Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
     Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
     Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
     And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
     Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
     Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
     Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
     In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
     Give them joys that never end. Amen.
     Alleluia.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus sequence from the Mass of Pentecost. Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 CCD. All rights reserved.

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A Vote for Freedom

Posted on May 9, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

I cannot stay silent. This year in American politics has been anything but ordinary. You may certainly find aspects of any or all current candidates for President of the United States not to your liking or even down-right scandalous.

You may be thinking you are in a quandary morally speaking because you cannot decide on a candidate that fully deserves your vote.

But to suggest that in a democracy, which many men and women over many years fought to preserve, the prudent thing to do is abstain from voting and stay home on election day is DEAD WRONG. It is poor stewardship and a rejection of one’s responsibility to be a faithful citizen.

My oldest son just turned twenty. It will be his first chance to vote in an US Presidential election. I cannot believe he is hearing former and current national leaders, as well as some voices in the Church, say they plan to abstain from voting.

Yes, you can write-in someone’s name for an office and that is a perfectly legitimate way of exercising one’s right to vote. But some of the voices out there are not even advocating that.

I continue to urge my son to see that it is his duty to vote and tell him that no one ever promised that each election there will be someone who is a clear choice for him.

My father was in the Navy during WWII. The American flag from his funeral hangs in a case by my front door. I am reminded each day of what it takes to assure liberty and freedom. Yes, my conscience is troubled because as a Catholic and a Christian I do not see a named candidate that fully supports my values.

But I will not tell those risking their lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan that I will abstain from voting. I will not tell the families I know that miss their loved ones serving in far away places that I will abstain from voting.

And I will not face that American flag each day I walk through my front door and abstain from voting.

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting,” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting,” – Robert Frost

The US Bishops Statement on Faithful Citizenship: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship