On Election Night, I Listened; I Read; I Prayed—And I Took Some Comfort in Your Reflections

It took me a few days to admit this:  Obama has prevailed, and he will remain our President for four more years.  One of the less globally significant results is that since the election, my TV has remained off.  I haven’t wanted to risk seeing his scowling face, recognizing his hubris, hearing him sneer “Let me be clear” or “Make no mistake” or “It won’t happen overnight.”  I was disheartened—too disheartened to write the “pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” kind of encouraging words I saw others in the blogosphere dash off so confidently.

Yet we go on.  Many church-attending Catholics and people of faith are deep in their disappointment, outright flattened by the realization that we are a nation divided—that somehow, some way, half of the populace of this Republic have bought into the meme that America needs four more years of the same unsustainable big-government, big-spending, contraceptive-peddling, anti-religion, anti-marriage, pro-abortion Administration.  Our nation has boarded the Secularization Express with nary a thought as to what will be our final destination.  It was hard to watch Monday night as the tides turned and conservatives saw our hopes for real “hope and change” derailed by voters in Ohio and Colorado.

I listened.  I read.  I prayed.  And while I was wallowing in self-pity, I took heart reading some of your comments.  I’d like to share with you just a few of the best comments I read that night.

Nick Thomm, executive producer of Al Kresta’s popular show on the Ave Maria Radio Network, offered an analysis of why Romney lost, and what another four years of the Obama presidency could mean to us, and what we must do:

I think we can safely say it’s NOT about the economy stupid. It’s about a culture that cares more about watching Honey Boo Boo than thinking about its kids’ future, reading 50 Shades of Grey instead of reading Scripture, and going to Sunday morning soccer matches rather than to your Church or Synagogue.

I love politics. It’s in my DNA. But I also recognize tonight more than ever before that trying to change culture through politics is a fool’s errand. We have a God-given mandate to affect culture by our witness – and that mandate doesn’t change based on who is in the White House.

Keith Strohm is director of faith formation at a Catholic parish in Elk Grove, Illinois, and executive director of Lay Formation Resources.  Keith encouraged his readers to “double down on prayer and fasting” and to find new ways of communicating the positive message of the Gospel:

I think that now is the time that faithful Catholics and, indeed, the whole Body of Christ, have to double down on prayer and fasting *AND* really find new ways to communicate their message in the public square. It’s going to be more difficult than ever to get a hearing, but I can tell you that I have an overwhelming amount of friends who are “evangelical” atheists and liberal voters. Not only are they anti-Church, the actual message of the Church and Her teaching are incomprehensible to them. I think the Church has largely ceded much of the work of evangelism to the popular culture by a denuded witness and a lack of clear teaching and creative transmission of the Gospel message.

I also think we have to stop simply “being against” something–or at least letting ourselves be painted in that light–and start representing that we are for something–and not just by our political action and rhetoric , but by the witness of our lives. The Catholic Church and related lay apostolates do so much to relieve poverty, provide health care to low-income families, and support babies after they are born. Why in the world isn’t there a central clearing house of all that data so that someone who is engaged in conversation with friends or strangers of a different worldview can easily and *factually* refute folks who say that pro-lifers don’t care about born babies! We have to get it together. We are battling the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Tim Ferguson, a judge, assessor and canonist for the Archdiocese of Detroit, showed yet another, more cultured side of himself—waxing poetic about the One to whom our allegiance is owed.  Tim wrote a poem:

Ecclesia Manebit

I have seen the crowds hail Caesar, and then call for Caesar’s head.
Praise the great king’s coronation, then drag his family from their bed.
I have watched as empires crumble, and successor states collapse;
Seen petty politicians draw and then redraw the maps.

I have watched as enslaved peoples throw their chains off to be free,
Then themselves become oppressors in their newfound liberty.
The crowds who danced with jubilation, as they victor’s triumph led;
Soon cry out for revolution, for rebellion, or for bread.

Through the centuries, I linger, as the nations rise and fall,
Sometimes favored, sometimes harried, sometimes large, but often small.
My allegiance never wavers, it is Thee, of whom I sing:
Thou alone are my True Master, Christ my Savior, Christ my King.

Bob Drusky, who works as registration and database manager at Franciscan University of Steubenville (but who is known to me from our years together at Legatus), expressed trepidation about possible attacks on the Church, but then celebrated the silver lining—recognizing that God can make the best out of any situation:

More attacks on the church will ultimately make us better at defending it. God CAN make the best out of any situation……the time for miracles is now, and we may be being called to participate in them. Far too many brothers and sisters have fallen away and have bought into the culture of death (which is why the election results are what they are). Despite that, we are still called to be a beacon of hope and light leading them to Jesus Christ and His church. Had it been a “win”, we may never have taken the time to hone our skills…but now we have no choice but to do just that…….and even more will be saved as a result…….God definitely has a plan…..

Bob also pointed me to an excellent article by Bob Rice, a professor of theology at Franciscan University.  Bob reminds us that the most important result is yet to come:

So… were our prayers unanswered? Our novenas wasted? On the surface, it seems to be that way.

But God isn’t done yet. He just rarely answers prayers the way we think He will.

God isn’t into democracy. Jesus said, “Follow me,” not, “vote for me.” Though we might feel that our prayers for the election weren’t heard, God is bigger than an election. He’s about saving souls and changing hearts.

Abortions in this country are down. Why? Because abortion centers are closing due to movements such as “40 Days for Life.” This is the most pro-life generation the country has ever seen. Hearts are changing. That’s the work of God, not man. Man can create a law to make something “legal” or “illegal.” But only God makes things “right” or “wrong.” The law is external, the Spirit is internal. God is more concerned about the heart.

Same-sex marriage? Yes, it’s disappointing that same sex marriage won a popular vote in Maine and Maryland. Proponents say this is the beginning of a national trend (as if the 30 previous states who voted against same sex marriage don’t matter.) That may be true. But I think we need to do better in talking about what marriage really is. We’ve been hoping for a vote to “protect marriage,” but perhaps we’ve been too focused in “out-voting” the issue than explaining it. Now we have to be more articulate. I can’t see that as a bad thing.

Religious freedom? That battle is far from over. More lawsuits have been leveled toward the Federal Government on this matter than any other in American history, and most of lower court results have been respecting religious rights. Obama’s reelection doesn’t make the HHS mandate a slam dunk, though that would have been nice—just as it would have been a non-issue if Obamacare was flipped by the Supreme Court. But it seems we’re just not going to get any short cuts on this: the issue of religious freedom will need to be directly addressed by the Supreme Court. And that could be a greatthing.

One “positive” thing you can say about Obama is that he’s done more to unite the Catholic Church in America than anyone in the past 50 years. He got every Catholic bishop to stand against him. He also did a lot to unite the Christian Church—remember Mike Huckabee saying, “Today, I’m Catholic!” Heck, he even got evangelical Christians to back a Mormon for president.

If we had woken up this morning with the headline, “Romney is the President,” we might have gone back to sleep feeling secure in one nation under God. We could be thankful that this HHS nonsense is over and we can go back to our lives. We could be hopeful that abortions would be reduced thanks to government intervention. That’s how I hoped to start the day.

But God does not want us asleep. He wants us awake. He wants us to do the same thing we’ve been doing: pray, work, and fast for our country.

Read the rest here.

Peter Riccardo, executive director of Mother And Unborn Baby Care, a pregnancy help center in southeastern Michigan, sent a message of encouragement which read:

I, like you am greatly disappointed in the results last night. However, we cannot get discouraged! We have to remember that God is in charge, and he is our rock and refuge. Our HOPE is in HIM!…

Please continue to pray for our nation. Remain strong, for you are not alone in this battle. For God is with us!

Charles Krauthammer, always an excellent analyst, looked at the way forward—what we can expect, and what we can do, going into the future.

Romney is a good man who made the best argument he could, and nearly won. He would have made a superb chief executive, but he (like the Clinton machine) could not match Barack Obama in the darker arts of public persuasion.

The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism.

Not all the news has been negative.  Michael J. New, professor at the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus and a pro-life advocate, in a column in the National Review Online reported on two pro-life victories on election night:

Pro-lifers are certainly disappointed in the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election. However, ballot measures dealing with sanctity-of-life issues fared well on election day. First Montana voters approved LR 120 by a nearly 2 to 1 margin. LR 120 would require parental notification for a physician to perform an abortion on a minor 16 or younger. Past efforts to enact parental involvement laws in Montana have been stymied by the courts. However, hopefully this referendum will survive the inevitable court challenges.

In Massachusetts, Question 2 which would legalize physician-assisted suicide was trailing 51 to 49 with 93 percent of the votes counted. Physician-assisted suicide was approved by voters in Oregon, but has thankfully spread to few other states since then. It was approved by Washington State voters in 2008, and the Montana supreme court effectively decriminalized physician-assisted suicide in 2009. However, efforts to enact physician-assisted suicide at the ballot box failed in Michigan in 1998 and in Maine in 2000. Massachusetts pro-lifers received some help from some unexpected sources. The Boston Globe editorialized against Question 2 as did Ted Kennedy’s widow. The fact that an ideologically diverse coalition came together in Massachusetts should give pro-lifers hope.

And John Michaels, writing on the website of the Tenth Amendment Center, reported that residents of Montana voted to nullify the Obama mandates.

Tonight another state puts a firm boot on the neck of Washington D.C.

The “Montana Health Care Freedom Act” otherwise known as Referendum 122, prohibits the state and federal governments from requiring the purchase of health insurance or imposing any penalty, tax, fee or fine on those who do not purchase health insurance.

The prohibition does have some restrictions, but the good thing about this…these rules are being set by the state of Montana, not the the Federal Government .

And so we trudge along, painfully aware of the challenges before us.

The poet Robert Frost described our situation well.  He wrote:

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Another writer reminded me of a song which was popularized in the 1990s by Christian recording artist Twila Paris, “God Is In Control.”  I’m not sure about the dancers in this video—but yes, God is in control.

God bless you on your journey.

 

  • Maggie Goff

    Thank you for putting all this together. It’s reassuring and comforting. For two weeks before the election I deactivated my Facebook account, as I was not liking myself very much with my reactions to the politics. I spent a great deal of my time in prayer and meditation. No fasting as I am hypoglycemic and it’s not safe for me to do so. I went to daily Mass and Communion, did the Liturgy of the Hours faithfully, Rosaries, Chapelet of St. Michael, Divine Mercy Way of the Cross, which is SO powerful, read a lot of Scripture in addition to the LOH and Mass, read the Rule of St. Benedict daily, going through Fr. Scott Hurd’s book on forgiveness again, St. Francis de Sales (my favorite saint), started “Breaking Through, Catholic Women Speak for Themselves”, St. Augustine, lots of Catholic articles about Truth.. My anxiety and fear slipped away, and by the time that it was announced that Romney would be conceding, I was at peace. I will be continuing all of what I was doing as it works. I pray not to forget this lesson, as I have others in the past. To me, God is all that matters. Oh, and I now have a tremendous respect and love for my Guardian Angel. Just thinking that I would hurt him helps me to keep a zipper on my mouth. ;)
    Thank you, Kathy. I will be passing this on…

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  • V

    I have to ask… is Peter Riccardo the name of the man who stood in front of the abortion clinic in Ann Arbor *every* day for something like 10 years, at least in the 1990′s? The individual in question carried a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He stood there in all weather, whether hot or cold. He was there when the schools were closed for weather. He was there when seniors were told to stay inside because it was too hot and humid.

    I know this because I used to drive by there almost every day for work, and school. And he was always there. And this being before my conversion, I was perturbed. Even then I could recognize that I was perturbed in a good way. After all– the kind of devotion he showed was contrary to my comfortable notions of what prolifers were. No– for someone to be that determined, there had to be a reason involved.

    My one slight change of heart (which was a foreshadowing of things to come) involved a day when I stood outside for work all day. I was hot. Fortunately, some nice anonymous person brought me a glass of water. I was also wearing a uniform, not designed for 100 degree weather. But I did it, and felt relieved when I could finally sit in the shade. So, driving home, I see this man who was there when I left for work in the morning, and was _still there_ in the evening. I went into Busters (a near by bodega) bought two tall frosty bottles of water, and brought one to him.

    Because I had decided that just because we disagree did not mean I had to be a jerk about it. I just smiled and nodded at him, because it seemed all that people could do were say nasty things to and about him, and that didn’t seem fair.

    Though I’m a different person now, I think that behavior gives us a guideline to what we need to do. This formula worked even in situations much more dire and deadly than ours currently is. But we have to be devoted to it, as we are devoted to God. He is, after all, The Word. I shall try in my own small way. But God bless whomever that was, their witness even stirred me in my sleep.


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