I am arrogant, opinionated, and rude. It has come to my attention, in this election season, that many Catholics have committed the unforgivable sin of expressing opinions that are not my own. I am infuriated that I have to write this. What is wrong with you heathens? The choice this election is as clear as heaven and hell. Any salvationable Catholic must already know that the only moral way to vote is…
A lousy premise for a blog post. Everyone has an opinion and we shouldnt be afraid to defend them. But John Stewart once pointed out if you raise the volume on everything nothing gets heard. We need to chill out. Actually I mean I… I need to chill out. I truly am more guilty than the next guy for raising the volume. But what can a good blogger say to the undecided Catholic, the apathetic Catholic, or the poorly catechized Catholic… or you amazing saints who read my blog?! Well I’m sorry again for raising the volume but I do some tips that may help you filter out the noise. I present you moral voting in four prayerful steps-
1 Get on your knees – that’s where you hear Jesus. God can’t work with us when we are already standing up proud, opinionated and shouting. First we must pray. And prayer must start with a new perspective. God is God, and we are not. Since I am not God I do not have all the answers. I am a sinner who needs help. Since I am not God I can’t judge my brother’s hearts. I may vehemently disagree. But they are no different than me. They are struggling against temptations and misunderstandings just like me.
Because God is God, he will prevail. Both sides want us convinced this election is the most important decision we will ever make. In fact this decision is important. But we must decide to love each other and hope for our future. Those decisions are far more important. When has God abandoned us to our leaders? God will work his will through and in spite of any leader we choose. Don’t lose hope because God is God.
When you find that hopeful nonjudging place where God is God, this is what I mean when I say on your knees. And I say that now because I’m going to keep saying that it (you’ll see).
2 Build your conscience on solid ground where you won’t lose it. Straight talk time, there isn’t a website with everything you need to know to be a good Catholic citizen. The Church’s social teaching is the result of more than thousands of debates, testing and revision. If you want a solid conscience you’ll need to give the church some time prayerfully studying, testing and discerning these teachings.
I continue to recommend Just Faith, it is a great Catholic education program, but it has already begun for 2012. See what is available in your parish. Regardless of your approach your goal is not to choose who to vote for. Your goal is to build a moral foundational which can guide you in any difficult decision. When you think you have it, don’t compromise. No party or candidate is completely in line with Catholic Social Teaching. You will probably be forced to choose the lessor of two evils but always be aware that this is what you are doing. A well formed conscience is a nagging uncomfortable thing that’s Gods way of reminding us there is more work to do.
If you get confused or frustrated along the way get back on your knees. You can’t form your conscience alone, but you don’t have to.
3 Be involved or die! Show me a conscience with out works, and I will show you my conscience by my works. But do you not know, oh foolish reader? A conscience without works is dead. Even while you study Catholic Social teaching you can and must put these teachings into action. If you have read any of my blogs it should come as no surprise I make this recommendation. But I mention it here to say this should be considered a preliminary to voting. This establishes a real relationship with our brothers and sisters who will be impacted by our leaders decisions.
I also suggest you serve in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Stretching yourself will help you grow. But be warned, any good priest will tell you people who act without prayer often do more harm than good. So as often as possible can get back on your knees.
4 Get your hands dirty – The politicians already are. Now we are ready to study politics. You formed you conscience so you would no how to judge your options. Now you need to know about you options. And here is the bad news, when politicians only have apples they will sell them as oranges. It is very easy for a politician to label his policies with one moral defense when in practice they accomplish something completely different.
Don’t oversimplify. The devils in the details so get as many details as you can. Get your details from multiple sources. I was watching one news channel recently, when they began railing all the other sources for not drawing attention to one particular statistic. The next day they apologized, the other channels had proven in fact that particular statistic was actually just false. I won’t say which news channel, because that’s not the point. The point is that the only way to know your getting reliable information is to consider multiple sources. And if details overwhelm you, get back on your knees. God is god let him guide you.
Finally you will need compromise. If you really feel all candidates fall short, then you have been doing this right. Choose the best candidate you can, and let God be God. God may someday call you to run. God knows we need better candidates. But do this after fallowing all four steps so I can vote for you.
Well at last, now you know my opinion anyone who still has the Gaul to descent is, another human being. No one has all the answers but every catholic has an obligation to do their due diligence finding them. My challenge to you this post is to accept no short cuts around a well formed conscience, and if your ever in doubt just get back on your knees.