We are now less than one month away from the election. So far, we have experienced two of three presidential debates and the only vice presidential debate. And who can keep track of the many hours of political commentary? With all of that information and noise, I am left feeling a bit concerned and uneasy. Despite the fact that I have written two other columns trying to help others prepare and form their consciences for Nov. 8, I know that many people are also feeling like me, mainly because we do not know what the results will be and in what direction our new president will lead our country.
Whenever I feel concerned and uneasy, I know that the only effective thing I can do is bring it all to prayer. We can never underestimate the power of prayer. After all, the message of hope and conversion, and ultimately, salvation, is what brought the multitudes to hear Jesus preach, not political commentary. The same Gospel message that Jesus preached is the same message that Pope Francis and all of my brother bishops are asking each of us to think about during this election process. Yes, as American citizens, we must focus on the issues facing our country, but more importantly, as Catholics, we can never forget that issues affect people who are our sisters and brothers in Christ.
We are abundantly blessed in the Diocese of Green Bay. I still continue to be amazed at the kindness and generosity shown by so many in our parishes, our schools and our communities. Yet, as we form our consciences for this election, we must put to the forefront of our minds not only our needs, but the needs of those individuals who are struggling, the forgotten, the lowly, the vulnerable, the voiceless. Because of our faith in Christ Jesus, we must be the salt of the earth and light of the world, and we do that by seeking a human encounter based on humility and dialogue. Pope Francis reminds each of us, “Today, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be women and men who bring hope to others.”
Over and over again in the Scriptures, we hear God telling us, “Be not afraid.” We need to remember that as Nov. 8 approaches. The world is not ending, but it is changing. It is unsettling for many, surely. Yet it is also hopeful because we find our hope, our freedom, and our salvation in Jesus.
I would encourage all of you to utilize this prayer that I have included before you go to vote on Nov. 8. Please keep me in prayer these final weeks leading up to the election, and rest assured, I will keep all of you in mine.
Lord God, as the election approaches, we seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront our nation, and how the Gospel compels us to respond as faithful citizens in our community.
We ask for eyes that are free from blindness so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters, one and equal in dignity, especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.
We ask for ears that will hear the cries of children unborn and those abandoned, men and women oppressed because of race or creed, religion or gender.
We ask for minds and hearts that are open to hearing the voice of leaders who will bring us closer to your Kingdom.
We pray for discernment so that we may choose leaders who hear your Word, live your love, and keep in the ways of your truth as they follow in the steps of Jesus and his Apostles and guide us to your Kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Part I: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship