The following article appeared in the November 2020 issue of Faith: West Tennessee, the magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis. Click here for info on subscribing to FWT.
You may have heard: there was a national election on November 3. By the time you read this, we may still not know who the winner of the presidency is (or we might…). It really doesn’t matter either way. November 4 will come. In that moment, we will need to learn to live together as Americans without thinking the worst of anyone who didn’t vote for our preferred candidate.
We must begin by committing to upholding the teaching of the Church, in every circumstance, even if it’s not easy; even if our faith is hindered by our culture and our government. We cannot compromise with the truth. There are certain things that are always wrong and evil. Standing up in this way may cause us to become social pariahs: we may lose friends, jobs, or even our lives at some point. Still, as St. Paul writes, “Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…” (Phil. 3:8-9). This is one of the things to which Jesus referred when he taught us to take up our crosses daily and follow Him (cf. Lk. 9:23).
Beyond committing to the constant and beautiful teachings of the faith, we need to commit to cultivating lives of virtue. In a post-election culture, virtues such as humility, justice, courage, patience, and charity are of the utmost importance. Such virtues will cause us to think of others as better than ourselves; to listen to other opinions without compromising the truth; and to lay down our lives for the good of another, even if that person doesn’t think or vote as we do. The virtues are where Christianity takes on flesh in this world.
Lastly, we ought to heed the direction of St. Teresa of Calcutta, who is always a great teacher of practical morality. The first direction she gives us is, “we must be contemplatives in the heart of the world.” Yes, even in the midst of life’s business, including politics and elections, we must gaze upon the heavenly Father and be filled with His fullness. That will surely cause us to think and speak and act differently.
After that, Mother Teresa exhorts us to “find out about your next-door neighbors.” In this post-election culture, this is the most important action that we can take. Building and rebuilding authentic community, loving people as they are and journeying to conversion with them, is exactly what Jesus did, and it’s exactly what our Blessed Lord expects from us!
So, in the next month, go get to know your next-door neighbors, even if they had the “wrong” political sign in their yard throughout the year. If you do, I guarantee you’ll begin to experience truth, goodness, & beauty, and you just might be able to bring some of those things back into our culture.