Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reflections from the Convention

Reflections from the Convention

          Last week I became a Republican again.  To explain what I mean, I have to give a brief history of my political affiliation, not that it is of any particular interest to anyone, but it will (I hope) help me to (eventually) make my point.
          I first registered to vote as a freshman in college and as a Democrat.  Most of my family were Democrats and my high school teachers had dutifully drilled home the message that the only noble party to belong to was the Democratic Party.
          Immediately, though, I felt ill at ease.  The first election in which I voted was a Congressional election in which the Democrat blasted the Republican for her “extreme Catholic views.”  She was pro-life.  So, I voted Republican.  I was always voting Republican.  As the Democratic Party continued to shrink and convinced me that as a pro-lifer who believed in putting limits on government, I wasn’t welcome, by the time I was a junior, I was a registered Republican.
          I voted for Bob Dole in 1996, although I knew he had no real chance of winning.  Then came the election of 2000.  It was the first election I got really involved with and I remember the elation at the victory party when we found out George W. Bush had won.  Then we were told perhaps he hadn’t, but I was confident he would be inaugurated.
          My joy that night was extraordinary, and I am sure I had more hope than even the strongest Obama devotee had four years ago.  On the way home election night, I stopped by a church to pray and I heard very clearly in my heart an admonition that, “He’s just a politician.”
          It wasn’t a slight on President Bush, but on me.  I had forgotten the directive in Scripture that we must not “put our trust in princes, but in the Lord.”  I had far too much enthusiasm for the Republican Party, and needed a reminder that Jesus Christ was still the Savior.
          It is a trap easy to fall into.  Unquestionably there are countless Christians who fell into it four years ago, and many have not found their way out even yet.
          To be sure President Bush did many good things, but there were many I was disappointed with, and I saw Republicans throughout Washington lose their guts, and compromise where they had no business doing so, especially when it came to the most important issues, such as the sanctity of human life.
          So I became an independent, not because my political beliefs were lukewarm, but because they were sharp, and too important to be traded for the sake of party affiliation.
          I have remained a Republican voter, unless I vote American Independent because the Republican candidate is unacceptable.  I have been open to the possibility of decent Democratic candidates, but I live in California, so I’m not holding my breath.
          Then came last week’s GOP Convention.  I watched as speaker after speaker touted limited government, the right to life, and the defense of the family.  There are young superstars like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, who are clearly men of principle, and so many more.
          So I am returning to the Republican Party, and I know that with this return comes a challenge.  As Catholics, we are called to transform our political party, not to allow our party to transform us.  I must remember that no matter how much I may support any candidate, my devotion is to the Lord, and any political party is merely a tool, to be used prudently to make His Kingdom a reality on earth.
          So I ask you to pray for me, because I have failed before.  I will undoubtedly be excited on November 6, and if Mitt Romney wins, I will certainly feel a sense of elation.  But I pray that it will be tempered so that although, yes, I should have hope in what the next four years might bring, my hope must remain ever in the Lord, and not in princes.

          Note: This past week I have posted many of the highlights of the RNC.  Below I have included Cardinal Dolan’s benediction.  I will not be doing the same with this week’s DNC.  Neither party perfectly reflects Catholic social teaching, but it seems clear to me that the Republican platform is much closer, especially when it comes to the sanctity of life and the family, and the principle of subsidiarity, not to mention religious freedom.  Both parties tackle the issue of solidarity, I believe, in their own ways.  I will, however, give an overview of President Obama’s speech Thursday night.