How appropriate it is to be the Year of Saint Paul.
He was a man who once hated Christ, but came to be among those who loved Him most. He was persecuted, beaten, shipwrecked, jailed and eventually killed for Christ. But through it all he maintained a sense of joy, offering love to those who hoped to destroy him.
We who are serious Catholics are going to need a strong dose of Pauline spirit in the months and years ahead. As a very holy priest told me just before the election, “we are going to experience a time of deep persecution. It won’t be hard persecution like Germany in the 1930s with people being put in concentration camps. It will be soft persecution, with people of faith and freedom being marginalized and ridiculed.”
The election of Senator Obama does not mean that all is lost. (After all, he is a fan of the Chicago White Sox). Likewise, the election of Senator McCain would not have meant that all is won.
The pressure on people of faith and freedom has been going on for decades. But the pressure will increase with both houses of Congress and the Presidency held by people who support abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and involuntary redistribution of wealth.
We can anticipate that one of President Obama’s first acts will be to make good on his commitment to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. There is something terribly wrong with the heart of a society that enacts a law to ensure that a mother can take the life of her child.
Despite clear pro-life statements by many American bishops, a majority of Catholics voted for pro-abortion candidates in this election. If it is possible to bring tears to the eyes of God, we certainly have done so.
We also seem to have forgotten the difference between opportunity and outcome. Let me explain by offering two anecdotes from Election Day that I witnessed on the news. The first was an interview with a voter who told the reporter she voted for Obama because when he was elected she would never have to worry about how to pay for gasoline or her mortgage. The second was with a voter who was interviewed entering the Obama election celebration in Chicago. She said she supported Obama because, “well, like, for sure, we’re going to need the government to take care of us some day.”
Both my wife and I come from very humble families. My dad was the first person in his family to go beyond high school….my wife played that role in her family. I have gotten out of bed every morning of my life thinking that whatever I was able to accomplish would be through my own hard work and the grace of God. It never occurred to me that I ought to sit around waiting for the government to take care of me.
I want my children and my grandchildren to feel the same way. I don’t want them to ever wake up thinking that no matter what they do they can’t be exceptional, can’t better themselves, can’t rely on their own God-given talents and energy to improve themselves and the world around them. That is the job of each of us – not the government.
I see challenging times ahead. And the saddest time may be when the millions of people who believe government can give them all a new SUV and a luxury condo find out that their employer has been taxed out of existence and they don’t have a job. Government won’t create heaven on earth in the United States any more than it could in the Soviet Union, East Germany or Cuba.
Government also won’t, I expect, bring about an end to abortion and appreciation for the freedoms upon which our nation was founded. Those goals come by people of faith and freedom praying and working to change one soul at a time.
This will not be quick or easy. But in the spirit of Saint Paul, let’s hoist our weighty cross and be grateful that we are about the work of the Lord.
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