A Memorial: Inspiration or Pain?

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National Mall

Vietnam Memorial at the National Mall in Washington D.C.

Memorial Day Confusion. This past Monday, as my husband and I walked into the Beau Rivage Memorial Day Brunch, I noticed a war veteran and his wife entering beside us. Wishing to honor them both, I said, “I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day Celebration.” The wife’s response surprised me, “Thank you my dear, but today is not a celebration, it’s a memorial.” Somewhat confused, I found myself wondering, “What’s a memorial? Does it represent a somber remembrance or a celebration?” My answer, “both.” Join me on a historical and spiritual quest as we explore several key, historical moments which have been forever memorialized. Our ultimate destination may surprise you, however, for there, we will find the simultaneous beauty and pain depicted in the “folly” of the Cross, (1Corinthians 1:18).

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Memorial Day is a federal holiday dedicated to the remembrance of United States soldiers who died while serving in the armed forces. Historically, “memorial day” began in the south, prior to the Civil War, as families gathered to decorate the grave sites of their long lost relatives. By 1865, after Lincoln’s assassination, burial memorializations quickly gained national significance, as over 600,000 family members were lost on both sides. By 1968, the United States Congress had recognized Memorial Day as a national holiday and required day off from work. Today, many people still decorate cemeteries and memorials to honor the dead, especially those who have died in military service. To many, the placing of gravesite flags and flowers often takes on a religious tone, indicating their simultaneous sense of appreciation and lost, and their spiritual understanding of self-sacrifice and redemption.

Rows of American Flags on Memorial Day

Signs and symbols have always played a vital role in every human culture, social structure, and religious system. In fact, many key moments and events in history have been forever recorded in art work or memorials. But what is the ultimate purpose of these memorials? The specific historical events may vary, however, each created sign or symbol seems to serve as a badge of faith, teaching tool, aid for complex philosophical understanding, or spiritual way forward. All seem to represent a simultaneous celebration and somber remembrance. Many such examples can be found in the Washington D.C. area, including the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, located in Arlington, VA. This beautiful and inspiring statue not only memorializes the courage and bravery of the Marines, who gallantly fought in this World War 2 Battle, but also brings to mind the amount of lives lost during the pacific campaign. This loss, although extremely painful, ultimately lead to our country’s victory. Therefore, their loss produced life for others.

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Iwo Jima War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

But courageous, self-sacrifice is not the only lesson to be learned from various memorials. Another Washington D.C. example, the Holocaust Museum, offends and leaves the onlooker extremely uncomfortable, as it highlights the ugliness of sin. Indicating the direct horrors of war, it stands as a painful reminder and points us towards peaceful co-existence. It instructs, inspires compassion, and motivates onlookers to advocate for equal rights for all, no matter what their religion, race, gender or ethnic origin.

US Holocaust Museum in Washington

Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.

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Painful Lesson or Inappropriate Celebration? Four controversial Civil War Monuments have been recently removed from the city of New Orleans due to the uncomfortable feelings aroused by each. From left to right, monuments of: Jefferson Davis on the corner of Jefferson Davis Parkway at Canal Street, Robert E. Lee Monument in Lee Circle, Battle of Liberty Place obelisk, and P.G.T. Beauregard at the entrance to City Park at Esplanade.

As Christians, we find a similar discomfort as we gaze upon the crucified body of Jesus on the Cross, for there we find the simultaneous ugliness of abuse and the promise of a brighter future. There, we find the ugliness and pain of Christ’s passion, and the beauty and life giving depth of His redeeming love and mercy. Ironically, the Cross, a symbol of Roman torture and public humiliation, has become a symbol for Christ’s self-sacrificial death of atonement, victory over sin, and offering of eternal life. This physical memorial truly represents the Christian dichotomy, or, according to St. Paul, the “folly” of the Cross, (1Corinthians 1:18).

Catholic church and Jesus Christ on crucifix

The crucifix, Latin for cruci fixus or “fixed on a cross”, is a cross with an image or figure of Jesus attached. The Jesus figure is often referred to as the corpus, or body in Latin.  Once viewed as an instrument of torture or public humiliation, it has become a Christian symbol of Christ’s sacrificial death and atonement for all mankind.

The crucifix is of primary importance to many Christian groups, including the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental, Assyrian, Lutheran and Anglican Churches. Many Evangelical Protestants prefer a bare cross in celebration of the risen Christ. As Catholics, we also profess Christ’s Resurrection, however, we lovingly gaze upon the Crucified Christ in remembrance of His redemptive Passion and Death, endured before the Resurrection. There, on the Cross, we are not only reminded of His once and for all sacrifice, but also His redeeming love for each of us. The crucifix is given a place of honor and prominence in every Catholic Church. Thereby, during the celebration of every Mass, it remains clearly visible and serves as a constant reminder of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, made present in the Holy Eucharist.

Although the image of the crucifix can be offensive to many, its very uncomfortable display reminds us of the ugliness of our sins and humanity’s great need for the undeserving gift of salvation. Our salvation is the result of a willing sacrifice by the Son of God, who chose to suffer and die because He loved the world and each of us. The crucifix, along with the artistically depicted Stations of the Cross, helps believers to visually meditate upon and better understand the actual events of that first Good Friday. There, upon the cross, we find the very face of suffering, the punctured hands and feet of forgiveness, the crown of humility, and the pierced side of God’s mercy, gushing forth with the blood of redemption and waters of eternal life.

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Crucifix positioned over the actual site of the Lord’s Passion in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

As Christians, the crucifix points not only to our belief in the promise of eternal life, but also the Christian call to offer our own self sacrifice and service to God, His Church, our family, neighbors and nation. The crucifix, therefore, represents the life of Christian discipleship, and our willingness to freely fulfill our divinely inspired vocation. It represents our personal call to imitate the Lord, as we say, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” So the next time you gaze upon the face of self-sacrifice and love, try to embrace the simultaneous joy and agony on display. Look upon the crucified and resurrected Lord in remembrance of His:

  • eternal sacrifice, made present to each of us during the celebration of the Mass
  •  victory over sin and death, and our subsequent gift of eternal life
  • life of mercy and teachings on beatitude, as we strive to “deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow” Him, (Matthew 16:24).
  • service and love for all mankind, as we strive for peaceful coexistence and the dignity of every life.

In doing so, remember all those who have gone before us, as beacons of light, offering their own life for the sake of others. This captures the true spirit of Memorial Day! Thank you to all who have served our country with valor. May God bless you and your families.

Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You. Amen

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

Three Religions, One God.

The City of Jerusalem. United in Adoration. “Join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the ancient city of Jerusalem, as we explore the three great faiths which share a common belief in God, the one God, the God of Abraham.

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Book Excerpt. Chapter Twenty-Six: Walking with Mercy. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy).

Arriving in Jerusalem, I could sense the presence of God. Home to all three monotheistic faiths, that of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the streets were filled with His praises. Called by many names, including Yahweh, God, Merciful Father, Jesus Christ, and Allah, almost every person in His holy city cried out in adoration. Amidst this praise, however, was a palpable pain, for although they were united in adoration, they were divided in beliefs and religious practices. Stopping for a brief overlook, our Jewish guide pointed out the holiest of sites for each of the three monotheistic faiths. Included was the Jewish Wailing Wall, a remnant of the ancient Jewish Temple, the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher, containing the actual Crucifixion and Resurrection sites of Jesus, and the Islamic Dome of the Rock, built over the destination of Mohammed’s Night Journey. Raising a glass of champaign, he toasted our Catholic tour group, saying, “welcome home.” At once, I heard the 3 o’clock Islamic call to prayer bellow throughout the city streets. Overwhelmed by the sheer power and contradiction of the moment, I humbly raised my glass in unified adoration.

Bibles and Quran, interfaith symbols of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, the three monotheistic religions, Haute-Savoie, France, Europe

The Torah, Bible and Quran, interfaith symbols of the three monotheistic faiths, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The three great monotheistic faiths, otherwise known as the Abrahamic religions, include Judaism (founded in the 7th Century BCE), Christianity (founded around 33 AD) and Islam (founded around 630 AD). Each claims descent from Abraham, the ancient Israelite father of faith. The Israelite Nation, known as Jews, traces its Abrahamic lineage through he and Sarah’s son, Isaac. Christians make a similar claim, for they consider themselves grafted into the family tree through Christ’s New Covenant. Muslims, founded by Muhammad, find their connection through Abraham’s son, Ishmael, who was born to the slave girl, Hagar.

In 2005, these faiths comprised approximately 54% of the earth’s population (Christianity-33%, Islam-21%, and Judaism-2%). This represents about 3.6 billion people. Therefore, it seems prudent that these groups strive to live in harmony, seek common ground, and mutual respect. In common, they each:

  1. Profess a belief in the One God, who creates, loves, forgives, reveals, rules and judges humanity at the end of time.
  2. Accept God’s revealed truth through Abraham, the father of faith, and many other divinely inspired prophets.
  3. Preserve God’s revelation in sacred text and various oral teachings of their faith tradition.
    • Judaism: The Jewish Bible, or Tanukh, consists of God’s Laws (Torah), the prophets (Neviim), and sacred writings (Ketuvium). Additionally, Jews look to the supplemental, rabbinical teachings of Midrash, Mishnah, and the Talmud.
    • Catholicism: The revealed Word of God is contained within the 73 Books of the Old and New Testaments (teachings of Jesus, who is God incarnate), the Church’s Sacred Oral Traditions, and the Holy Spirit guided Magisterial teachings (Pope in union with the bishops) detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
    • Islam: The 114 Chapters (Suras) of the Qur’ran contain truths revealed by God through the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. Additionally, Muslims look to the supplemental teachings (Hadith) and life story (Sira) of Muhammad, referred to as the Sunnah. The Faqih, or the legal teachings, provide supplemental guidelines for daily living.
  4. Follow an annual religious calendar, and religious, disciplinary and liturgical practices, including but not limited to:
    • Judaism: adherence to the thirteen articles of faith, which summarize core Jewish beliefs, three times daily prayer for men, observation of the Saturday Sabbath, celebration of Shabbat and Passover, adherence to male circumcision, dietary laws, and other spiritual disciplines.
    • Catholicism: belief in the Trinity, One God made of three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), acceptance of the Nicene Creed, observation of the Sunday Sabbath through participation in the Mass (partaking in the consecrated bread and wine or Body and Blood of Christ), and reception of sacramental graces (Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick) as members of His Body, the Church.
    • Islam: observation of Five Pillars, including believe in One God and Muhammad as His final and most perfect prophet, five times daily prayer, alms giving, annual observation of Ramadan, and the completion of a pilgrimage to Mecca (the birth place of Muhammad) if at all possible.
  5. Speak of humanity’s choice between good and evil, and an eternal reward for those who choose obedience to God’s moral law.
  6. Anticipate the coming of a Messiah, who will bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.
  7. Share a love of Jerusalem and deep reverence for the Temple Mount, where Abraham offered his son, in faith, as a sacrificial offering to God. Of course, Abraham’s son was saved, for God, Himself, provided the sacrificial lamb, (Genesis 22:1-13).
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View of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Visible is the Western Wall (ancient remnant of the Jewish Temple’s Holy of Holies) and the golden, Islamic Dome of the Rock.

Among their commonalities, however, one finds significant religious and political differences. Of primary importance is Judaism and Islam’s rejection of Jesus Christ’s divinity and humanity, as God incarnate. Secondarily, is Christianity and Islam’s continuous call and desire to evangelize all nations. Subsequently, throughout much of their common history, these three faiths have found themselves at odds, or in the worst case scenario, at war. Overcoming these long-standing difficulties is at the heart of the Catholic Church’s call for interreligious dialogue. These new efforts or plans are contained within the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate).

Abraham day

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SBD of Perth, Chief Rabbi of Western Australia, David Freilich OAM, and Sheikh Muhammad Agherdien, gathered (Sept. 22, 2016) to plant an olive tree, a symbol for peace, in celebration of Abraham Day, marking their shared faith in the One God, the God of Abraham.

In the spirit of Nostra Aetate, I pray that each of us strive to:

  1. Reflect the light of Christ to a world in desperate need of love.
  2. Enter, with prudence and charity, into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions.
  3. Acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found within a non-Christian’s faith, social, and cultural life.
  4. Work together to preserve, and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for all.
  5. Avoid discrimination against people, or harassment of any kind, on the basis of race, color, condition in life or religion.

Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

 

 

 

Constantine, Charlemagne, St. Louis King of France and Trump?

God’s Way? Trump’s Way?

Now that Donald Trump has become the 45th president of the United States, the question remains: will he govern with loving wisdom or hasty self-indulgence? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to St. John Lateran in Rome, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, and St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, as we explore the legacy of three great Christian leaders: Constantine, Charlemagne and St. Louis King of France.

“There is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1918).

In last weeks blog post, entitled, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s”, we visited St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome and found, within its very design and contents, a perfect balance or peaceful harmony existing between the Church and State. Above the entrance of the Basilica’s large bronze doors were the inscribed words, “Christ the Savior”. Guarding the entrance was a statue of Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome and protector of the Pope. Within the interior was a larger than life statue of St. Peter, the rock upon whom Christ established His Church. Therefore, at the center of secular and spiritual authority, we find the Lord, who alone is worthy of our praise, honor and unwavering obedience.

Centered above is St. John Lateran in Rome. On either side is the exterior statue of Constantine the Great (left) and interior statue of St. Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church (right).

On Wednesday, November 9th, the day following the presidential election, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast Day of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. Mere coincidence, you may ask. I think not, for with God, there are no coincidences, but simply moments of divine enlightenment or suggestion.

Excerpt from the Second Reading on November 9, 2016: Brothers and sisters: You are God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. (1Corinthians 3:9-11).

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The eastern facade of St. John Lateran topped with 15 large travertine statues, including the central figure of Jesus standing atop the famous “sign of Constantine” or Chi-Rho.

 

How then, should the public authority, belonging to an order established by God, govern and build upon the foundation of Christ? Again, we can find some answers within the very design of St. John Lateran, for at the center of the eastern facade, we find Jesus standing atop the famous “Chi-Rho” or miraculous sign of Constantine. Formed by superimposing the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, this symbol invokes the authority of Jesus and His status as the Jewish Messiah. Only in placing our trust in God, can victory be ensured. According to historical chroniclers, Constantine and his soldiers saw a vision of the Chi-Rho in the sky prior to their unexpected victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge outside of Rome. Knowing this sign came from God, Constantine knew that they were guarantee victory. Therefore, he and his soldiers faithfully painted the Chi-Rho on their shields and subsequently won the important battle. As a result, Charlemagne became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Here, we learn that when a secular ruler places his trust in God, good results abound!

So, the question remains, will Donald Trump keep his eyes on Christ, govern with love and wisdom, and ensure good things for the people of God?  Ultimately, only time will tell. However, a brief exploration of our final two pilgrimage locations, including the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, may help to shed some light on what a divinely ordained governance looks like.

Pictured above is Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and its adjacent statue of Charlemagne, the 8th century Frankish King. 

Notre-Dame, the seat of the Catholic bishop of Paris, is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. Originally completed in 1345, it was restored in 1845 following the radical desecrations of the French Revolution (1789-1799). In front of the cathedral, we find a large statue of Charlemagne, the Frankish King from 768 until 814. He was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Eve in 800 AD. As the Pope’s protector, Charlemagne repelled Islamic invaders from northern Spain and removed the warring Lombards from northern Italy. As a devout Catholic, he desired to root out paganism within his realm and deepen the piety and morals of his subjects. Deepening of the spiritual life, therefore, played a central role in his public policy and royal governance. In addition, Charlemagne supported and advocated for education, literature, art, architecture, monetary stability, and Church reform. These combined efforts ultimately produced abundant fruit and resulted in the great time period in European history known as the Caroligian Renaissance.

Above: St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans and its interior statue of St. Louis IX of France.

St. Louis Cathedral is the seat of the Catholic bishop of New Orleans and considered to be the oldest cathedral in the United States. A small wooden church, first built on this site in 1689, was later replaced by a larger church of brick and timber in 1727. Today, little remains of this brick structure due to damaging effects of the great 1788 New Orleans flood. Reflecting a harmony between Church and State, St. Louis Cathedral is one of the few Catholic churches in the United States which fronts a major public square (Jackson Square).

Its name sake, St. Louis, King of France (1226-1270), is often considered the model for Christian leadership and is, to date, the only French monarch to be declared a saint. His compassion was well known, as he personally welcomed, served and fed over a hundred impoverished subjects daily. Although he commanded a large army, he sought peaceful negotiation when settling disputes. His reputation for fairness was renown. Subsequently, he often served as arbiter for the other European monarchs. As King, his Christian values and strong Catholic devotion greatly impacted his governance. As such, he punished blasphemy, gambling, prostitution, and the imposition of interest-bearing loans on the needy. Legally, King Louis reformed the French system of appeal and allowed for the amendment of unjust judgments rendered. Under his reign, France experienced a “golden century” filled with political, cultural and economic success. Tragically, fighting to ensure the safety of Christians in the Holy Land, St. Louis lost his life during the last of his two failed crusades.

Closing Prayer: Let us pray that our new president, like Constantine the Great, places God at the center of his decisions. That, like the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, he protects religious liberty and deepens the piety and morals of the people of this great nation. Finally, like St. Louis King of France, he shows compassion for the impoverished, seeks peaceful dialogue when settling disputes, and fights for justice for all, so that America may experience a “golden century” filled with political, cultural, and economic success. A century filled with love of God and country. Amen

3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

To learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, to make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, to shop, or learn more about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love, please click on the link below. Thank you and God Bless America!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s.”

Catholics Care. Catholics Vote.

How can we change the tone, quiet the quarrels, and follow our faith amidst the heightened antagonism and polarization of this election season? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome as we explore the meaning of Jesus’ famous word, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s,” (Mark: 12:17). 

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St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome is the oldest church in the west and houses the ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Pontiff (Pope) or Bishop of Rome. The large Latin inscription on its facade reads, “Pope Clement XII, in the fifth year (of his Pontificate), dedicated this building to Christ the Savior in honor of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor from 306 – 337 AD, originally built the Basilica around the year 313 AD and gave it to the Bishop of Rome, Pope Miltiades, at that time. In 1702, Pope Clement XI completed final renovations and commissioned the life-sized sculptures of the twelve Apostles currently filling the niches encircling its interior.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s”

Within the very design and contents of St. John Lateran, we find a balance or peaceful harmony between Church and State which I believe can serve as a model for our world. Above the entrance of the Basilica’s large bronze doors are the inscribed words, “Christ the Savior”. Therefore, at the center do we find the Lord, who alone is worthy of our praise, honor and unwavering obedience. Number 1918 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “There is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”

Guarding the entrance of the Basilica, we find a statue of the Church’s benefactor, Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome and protector of the Pope. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1919-1920), “Every human community needs an authority in order to endure and develop. The political community and public authority are based on human nature and therefore…..belong to an order established by God.”

Within St John Lateran, we find a larger than life statue of Peter, the Rock upon whom Christ established His Church. To Peter and his successors do men of good will owe their faithful submission. When Jesus Christ, after his Resurrection, instructed Peter to “feed my lambs, watch over my sheep, feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17), the ramifications were enormous, for Jesus commanded Peter to take on his role as the “Good Shepherd” until His return.

Pictured below is the exterior sculpture of Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome, and the interior, larger-than life statue of St. Peter, the “Rock” and first Pope of the Church.

Catholics Care. Catholic Vote. 

Pope Francis said on 9/16/13, “We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear, ‘A good Catholic is not interested in politics’. This is not true, good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.” 

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When God, Church and state authority are in harmony and operating according to divine design, the common good of society is achieved. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1921 and 1924) says, “Authority is exercised legitimately if it is committed to the common good of society. The common good consists of three essential elements: respect for and promotion of fundamental rights of the person; prosperity, or the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of society; and the peace and security of the group and of its members.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided Catholics with a teaching document entitled, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”, which serves as a guide when we exercise our rights and duties as participants in this democracy. This guide can be found at http://www/usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/index.cfm.

What political party is the Church? Neither of course. Jesus is neither Republican or Democrat. He is God. He does not fit into categories. Neither does the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1922) teaches, “The diversity of political regime is legitimate, provided they contribute to the good of the community”. The real goal for the Church, and for each and every Catholic, is to be Catholic across the board. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says, each of us is to, “Contribute to civil and respectful dialogue, and to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching.” Each of us, as Catholics, is called to be vigorously pro-life, and clear on sexual and life issues; to be advocates for the poor, immigrants, the family and marriage between a man and a woman; to embrace solidarity and justice; stand in the face of the violence that permeates our culture; be merciful and forgiving; and fight for Catholic teachings and religious liberty. So, in reality, although we may align ourselves with one particular party or another, in the end, true Catholicism can not be tamed or represented by any political party. It is eternal, neither liberal or conservative. It is all things to all people. It is love.

Change the tone, quiet the quarrels, and follow your faith amidst the heightened antagonism and polarization of this election season. Living in America, perhaps we tend to take our peaceful change of power for granted. However, in Cameroon, Africa, this is not always the case. In this tumultuous time, we should take stock in the advice given by Catholic Bishops to the people of Cameroon prior to their 2011 election. Political administrators should conduct a fair and transparent election, and work together to maintain the peace. Political parties should respect the electoral process and strive to see themselves as competitors not enemies. Law enforcement should protect the population, and safeguard honor and loyalty to the nation. Christians should pray for peace and social dialogue. The public and private media should be objective and responsible when disseminating information.

As we faithfully live out our consciences in the public square, let us turn to some guiding words from our current shepherd, Pope Francis, in his encyclical entitled, The Joy of Love, (98-101, and 136). “No warring among ourselves! Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of our fraternal love. Dialogue is essential for experiencing, expressing and fostering love in marriage and family life,” as well as in civil society. His recommended rules for healthy dialogue include:

1. Recognize the real importance and dignity of the other person.

2. Try to understand where the other person is coming from, (their pain, fear, anger, hopes, dreams, etc.).

3. Put yourself in the other’s shoes.

4. Be ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say.

5. Keep an open mind.

6. Our goal is to advance the common good.

7. Try not to offend, and don’t vent, (choose your words carefully).

8. Love everyone.

9. Base positions on beliefs and values, (not the desire to win and argument).

10. Pray.

Closing Prayer: After the election, whatever the outcome shall be, I pray that each of us can get back to doing the work of the Church. The work that we, as Catholics, are called to do, to live our life in the service of God, Country and our fellow man.

3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

To learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, to make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, to shop, or learn more about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love, please click on the link below. Thank you and God Bless America!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com