Some Spiritual Relfections on the Election of 2012 and the Moral Decline of the Republic.
The Twenty-Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.
The Holy Prophet Habakkuk.
The Passing of the Blessed Confessor Ivan Slezyuk, Bishop of Ivano-Frankivsk.
Return to ByzantineCatholicPriest.com.
12:31 PM 12/2/2012 — Last month, as you know, we had an election in our country, and, after it, I fell into a kind of depression that lasted several days; not simply because the man I voted for didn't win, but because of the reports of how most of the Catholics in our country voted as reported in some of the polls. It was brought to mind again when I looked at the Apostolic reading for today, in which St. Paul says:
...draw your strength from the Lord, from that mastery which his power supplies. You must wear all the weapons in God's armoury, if you would find strength to resist the cunning of the devil. It is not against flesh and blood that we enter the lists; we have to do with princedoms and powers, with those who have mastery of the world in these dark days, with malign influences in an order higher than ours (Eph. 6:10-12).
You might find that to be a bit histrionic and “over the top,” but consider this: several states voted by popular majority to legalize the recreational use of marijuana;—not medicinal use, but recreational use—a plan to legalize physician assisted suicide was barely rejected, and in a state that has a sizable Catholic population; for the first time in our country’s history several states, by popular vote, chose to legalize what is mistakenly called “Gay Marriage,” even though there can be no such thing, and two of those states have Catholic governors who supported this measure; in Florida, a ban on tax payer money to be used to murder unborn children was rejected; and, the reelection of the president and the full implementation of this monstrous scheme to federalize health care will result in the closure of every Catholic health care facility in this country.
In the days following the election all the talking heads in the media tried to explain how this all happened, but none of them had it right. The election was not about one party’s marketing or campaign style over another's, it wasn't about the appeal of one person over another, nor about one side's ability to appeal to this minority group or that, nor even about one party being more up-to-date while the other is behind the times. What we saw on election night was the moral and spiritual decline of our nation.
The election results are a mere confirmation of a choice that a majority in this country made, some as far back as 50 years ago, to reject God and to embrace evil in one form or another! And who’s to blame for this choice? Well, ultimately, each individual is responsible for his or her choices. Those who chose to vote with evil are to blame, and they’ll have to answer to God for the way they voted. But the reality is I don’t think any of us can take ourselves completely off the hook on this one. One of the worst contributing factors to the moral decline of our country has been the lukewarmness that has plagued the Catholic Church for years all the way from the Bishops down to the people in the pews. Pope St. Pius X once said that “All evil in the world is due to lukewarm Catholics,” and he was right. I've seen this lukewarmness in every parish to which I've been assigned; but, I'll tell you where else I've seen it: I've seen it in the mirror, I've seen it in myself. And if we’re honest with ourselves I think all of us would see one or more area of lukewarmness in our own spiritual lives.
Each one of us has a moral obligation to do all that we can to try to reverse the moral decline of our nation. And the first place that we have to begin is within ourselves. We have to begin by responding to that vocation which is common to all of us, what the Church calls the universal call to holiness, the call from Jesus to each one of us to become a saint!
In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul says, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” How many of us, each day, tremble as we strive for holiness? How many of us live with a lively fear of hell, a place that is real and a place where souls go for all eternity? Have we instead accepted mediocrity in our spiritual lives? “Oh, I’m too busy to pray Lord; I just don’t have the time.… I’m too tired to pray; I’ll get to it tomorrow.... Oh, I don’t like that teaching of the Church, I am not going to do that; who do they think they are coming up with this stuff...? Well, I think I’ve suffered enough for God; what more do I have to do for Him...?”
In one of His parables Jesus poses an important question that we would all do well to ask ourselves: “Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?” Well, what cost is Jesus talking about? He’s not giving construction advice to builders and contractors; the context of that Gospel passage is the cost of discipleship, what it costs to be a saint, ultimately what it costs us get to Heaven. But all too often we act as if that cost is cheap: “Well, I go to church on most Sundays; I’m a good person; I haven’t murdered anybody. Of course I’m going to Heaven!” Jesus dealt with this kind of cheap discipleship in the Gospels when He said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” On the day of judgment many will say to Jesus, “Well, didn’t we go to church fairly often on Sundays and didn’t we put some money in the collection basket? Didn’t we accept at least some of the Church’s teachings? I was a good person; I didn’t murder anybody.” Then Jesus will declare to them, as he said in that same parable, “I never knew you; go away from me you evildoers!”
My friends, in ordinary times lukewarmness in our approach to salvation is deadly, but we are not entering into ordinary times. There is a great battle brewing; in fact, this battle is already upon us, a battle in our country between good and evil. If we are not striving for holiness with every fiber of our being we will not have what it takes to pay the cost of discipleship, we will not have what it takes to get to Heaven! We can no longer afford the luxury of living our faith with fervor only when it suits us, and granting ourselves dispensations from this onerous obligation or that. We can no longer view the moral teachings of our Church as personal opinions which we're free to accept or reject as it suits us. We can no longer approach the living of our faith as something we need only give lip-service to for an hour or so on the weekend without allowing it to become the guiding principle of our lives. As Jesus says near the end of Matthew’s Gospel, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now and never will be.”
It’s clear from the trends that we saw in last months election results that people of faith in this country are going to be attacked relentlessly over and over again by one wave of evil after another, and we must be sure that we have included these attacks in our calculations. A lukewarm faith will never survive the attacks of an army of evil that is Legion. We must become saints! And do not wait for tomorrow to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling," for tomorrow may be too late. Today let us resolve to root out all sin from our lives! Today let us resolves to remove all evil from our hearts! Today let us double our efforts at prayer and moral living! Today let us pray that Mary, the Mother of God, will once again crush the head of Satan, and intercede for us with the grace of perseverance! Today, let us resolve to take up our cross and be a disciple of Jesus Christ—Christ, who in the words of the Servant of God Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, “will restore within us moral indignation, Who will make us hate evil with a passionate intensity, and love goodness to a point where we can drink death like water!”
St. Paul, in today's Apostolic reading, gives us the attitude we must have in these Godless days. His words do not fall gently on the ear. They strike against our inclination for getting along with others and not making waves; yet, as I said, we are not living in ordinary times:
Take up all God's armour, then; so you will be able to stand your ground when the evil time comes, and be found still on your feet, when all the task is over. Stand fast, your loins girt with truth, the breastplate of justice fitted on, and your feet shod in readiness to publish the gospel of peace. With all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fire-tipped arrows of your wicked enemy; make the helmet of salvation your own, and the sword of the spirit, God's word (Eph. 6:13-17).
Father Michael Venditti
* Due to the "Lucan Jump" rule, the Gospel of the 28th Sunday after Pentecost would be read today, except that this Gospel is always read on the Sunday of the Holy Ancestors, the second Sunday before Christmas; therefore, the Gospel that would be read on that Sunday in the post-Pentecost cycle is read today. It is ordinarily the Gospel for the 30th Sunday after Pentecost.