Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Finding Peace in the Aftermath

Finding Peace in the 

          Have you checked Facebook lately?  Or maybe political message boards?  If you have, I’m guessing it’s been pretty nasty.  There is no question that this has been a contentious election, and passions are high.  And people from both sides have been downright vicious.
          For those of us who understand what was at stake, these are the first of many difficult days.  We are preparing for a battle between the Church and the federal government.  We are on guard to defend our freedoms, particularly those of conscience and parental rights.  We refuse to abandon our quest to save the unborn.  And there is much more.
          But for all the external battles we are preparing to fight, we have to be sure we don’t lose the internal ones in the process.  Specifically, I am referring to the anger and judgment that can fester toward our fellow man, particularly those responsible for reelecting Mr. Obama.
          If you’ve seen the vitriol that has been spread this past week, you know what I mean.  Anger is understandable, but it is no excuse for abandoning Christian charity.
          It’s one thing to refrain from attacking people publicly (Facebook, message boards, Twitter, etc); it’s another to try and tame our thoughts and internal emotions; and it’s another to interact closely with family, friends or coworkers who were on the other side.
          I have people I love dearly who voted for Obama.  Many do not share my Faith or worldview.  I’ll admit, for a couple of days I prudentially kept my distance from them because my anger and sorrow were not yet under control.
          But now my call is to love them.  I don’t have to compromise the truth, and the time has come for us to stand firm and defend our most precious values.  At times I will be standing squarely against some of those I love.  But my love for them has to be unconditional, even if I learn that their love for me is not.
          Unfortunately, pride can be my great weakness, and I don’t always act or speak in a manner worthy of a disciple of Jesus Christ.  But in my relationships, I have to strive to be a man of peace.  There is a difference between false peace based on the compromise of one’s principles and true peace that is based on love.  The latter may be harder, but it is authentic, and it can withstand the storms.
          It is also important to remember that we should always assume the best motives possible when looking at the actions of another.  This is the way we can judge the sin without judging the sinner.
          I have pointed to the election and reelection of Barack Obama as a telltale sign of how much cultural decline we have suffered.  I stand by that, but it is important to remember that a culture is made up of individuals, and that we can not always apply the truth about a culture to each of its individuals.  I can not judge the heart of anyone who voted for Mr. Obama.
          It is also important to acknowledge that the way the Democrats used the issue of abortion in this campaign targeted many victims.  Though the country identifies as more pro-life than ever, the abortion message was targeted very specifically and effectively by the Democratic machine.  We must not forget how many women (and men) are suffering from the effects of abortion and have not yet found the healing that truly is available to them.  By tapping into this pain, the left was able to make a vote for Mitt Romney seem, to these women, like a vote for their own condemnation.  We can not underestimate the pain that abortion leaves in its wake.  Perhaps that can help us to understand rather than condemn.
          The other thing we need is patience.  Many people we love do not realize what is at stake.  They can’t understand why this election was not just another election.  Therefore, they have a hard time understanding us.  Fair enough.  Chances are, as far as the election is concerned, we don’t understand them either.  Perhaps we are being called to love even if we don’t understand, and even if we’re not understood.
          The bottom line to me is this.  I am preparing to confront the evils of our age, evils which were greatly accelerated last Tuesday night.  But with God’s Grace, I will do so as a follower of my Lord, who from the Cross loved those who were crucifying Him. 
          My values are not for sale and my convictions will not waver.  But neither will my love.  I believe this is one of the biggest challenges we will be faced with in the immediate aftermath of the election.  In the midst of a lot of ugliness, we have to respond with charity, and we have to mean it.  And we can not let our feelings for those we love be contingent upon which side of this election they fell.