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As I write these notes I am anticipating the mid-term elections on Tuesday, November 8 and hoping that the majority of American will cast their votes. That statement in itself is lowering the bar because a majority is one over half (meaning just over 50%). I will be amazed if that many people vote. How sad is that! When I was growing up our family was a priority; it was where we received our value system and where we set our priorities. Next to our families it was the country and the Church that taught us right from wrong. The United States and the Catholic Church reinforced what we were taught at home. It was just understood and expected that we celebrated our faith each week at Mass. It was also understood that when we turned 18 we would begin a lifelong experience of voting in local and national elections. I’d also say that our school system and education strongly encouraged each of us to belong to a faith tradition and take our responsibility and privilege of participating in elections seriously.
WE always voted on election day and I Loved the experiences of being part of the process for which our ancestors fought. That freedom is a gift and being surrounded by so many others as we stood in line to vote was a proud moment for me. In 2008 and 2016 the line actually stretched the entire length of Holy Name schoolyard.(It reminded me of standing in line for the Saturday night dances in high school). I have to admit the past 2 elections I voted by mail. I never thought I would vote early or by mail but I am grateful for the opportunity. The pace of life today demands that we expand the avenues for Americans to participate in this right and this responsibility. So I continue today to be a Catholic American and an American Catholic and very proud of both affiliations.
So for me it was truly the Church and country that reinforced my value system and continues to do so.
I wonder what has replaced those two institutions for our young people today. It is obvious that the great majority of our children, youth and young adults are no longer celebrating their faith at Church on a regular basis and I respect that choice although it is a huge loss to the Church and I believe a loss to our families. It is also obvious that the majority of our young people are not participating in the voting process and I respect that choice although it is also a huge loss to the country and I believe a loss to the younger generations. I realize the world is changing rapidly and I am a product of my upbringing which I believe worked out very well for me.
So, my question again is what has replaced the Church and the country as strong support systems for parents who are attempting to raise their children in today’s environment? Where do our children, teenagers and young adults turn to when they are seeking out how to make decisions in their lives? As individuals we cannot make decisions in a vacuum. We need to be reminded that it’s a big world out there and each of us has responsibilities in this world. The Church and the country always reminded me that it’s not about me, it about us.
Celebrating my faith each week and participating in the elections process doesn’t mean I agree with my Church or my country, all the time. If does mean I value the presence of each of them in my life enough to challenge them to be all I believe they are meant to be. Obviously these are priorities for me and I can’t be a part of the solution if I divorce myself from either institution.
On All Saints Day, we decided to have a little fun during the homily. I shared with the Congregation the following Patron Saints. There are so many others but I was aware of the time constraint. If you look into some of the history of these men and woman (only 1 included) it makes some sense that they’d be identified with these areas of concern. Some of what we read about the saints is legend.
Matthew – Accountants
Genesius – Actors
Gabriel – Broadcasters
Martha – Cooks
Francis of Assisi – Ecologists
Peter – Fisherman
Joseph of Arimathea – Funeral Directors
Valentine – Lovers
David – Poets
Jean Vianney – Priests
Vitus – Dancers
Christopher – Travelers
Michael – Police
Florian – Firefighters
Veterans Day Prayer
Dear Lord, today we honor our veterans, worthy men and women who gave their best when they were called upon to serve and protect their country. We pray that you will bless them, Lord, for their unselfish service in the continual struggle to preserve our freedoms, our safety, and our country’s heritage, for all of us. Bless them abundantly for the hardships they faced, for the sacrifices they made for their many different contributions to America’s victories over tyranny and oppression. We respect them, we thank them, we honor them, we are proud of them, and we pray that you will watch over these special people and bless them with peace and happiness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.