From the earliest days of the Church we have remembered and prayed for the dead. On this All Saints Day and tomorrow on All Souls Day, I encourage you to pray for your family, neighbors, parishioners and others who have died. Keep their memory alive by sharing with others how those who have died made an important impact in your life while they lived here on the earth. Feel free to write in our 2020 Book of the Dead the names of those you would especially like to remember in prayer this month. The Book of the Dead will be found in church, near the Baptism fount.
After many, many months of debate, political ads, harsh words and divisive rhetoric we have finally arrived at the time for our next national election that will help determine where we as a country will head for the next four years. While many of us have already voted for our candidates, this Tuesday, will see others of our fellow citizens exercising one of the most precious rights we have as a citizen.... the right to vote for those who govern our country.
Pope Francis has spoken often that all members of the Church have a responsibility to protect the rights of all people and to care for the earth upon which God has given us life. He reminds us that, "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."
In this time of our national election and facing the dangers of a world-wide pandemic, Pope Francis's newest Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, offers much to reflect upon. He wrote:
For Christians, the words of Jesus have an even deeper meaning. They compel us to recognize Christ himself in each of our abandoned or excluded brothers and sisters (cf. Mt 25:40.45). Faith has untold power to inspire and sustain our respect for others, for believers come to know that God loves every man and woman with infinite love and “thereby confers infinite dignity” upon all humanity. We likewise believe that Christ shed his blood for each of us and that no one is beyond the scope of his universal love. If we go to the ultimate source of that love which is the very life of the triune God, we encounter in the community of the three divine Persons the origin and perfect model of all life in society. Theology continues to be enriched by its reflection on this great truth.
I sometimes wonder why, in light of this, it took so long for the Church unequivocally to condemn slavery and various forms of violence. Today, with our developed spirituality and theology, we have no excuses. Still, there are those who appear to feel encouraged or at least permitted by their faith to support varieties of narrow and violent nationalism, xenophobia and contempt, and even the mistreatment of those who are different. Faith, and the humanism it inspires, must maintain a critical sense in the face of these tendencies, and prompt an immediate response whenever they rear their head. For this reason, it is important that catechesis and preaching speak more directly and clearly about the social meaning of existence, the fraternal dimension of spirituality, our conviction of the inalienable dignity of each person, and our reasons for loving and accepting all our brothers and sisters.
The US Bishops' Conference have given us reflections upon the present national election. They wrote: The political realities of our nation present us with opportunities and challenges. We are a nation founded on "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," but the right to life itself is not fully protected, especially for unborn children, the terminally ill, and the elderly, the most vulnerable members of the American family.
We are called to be peacemakers in a nation at war. We are a country pledged to pursue "liberty and justice for all," but we are too often divided across lines of race, ethnicity, and economic inequality. We are a nation of immigrants, struggling to address the challenges of many new immigrants in our midst. We are a society built on the strength of our families, called to defend marriage and offer moral and economic supports for family life.
We are a powerful nation in a violent world, confronting terror and trying to build a safer, more just, more peaceful world. We are an affluent society where too many live in poverty and lack health care and other necessities of life.
We are part of a global community charged with being good stewards of the earth's environment, what Pope Francis calls "our common home," which is being threatened. These challenges are at the heart of public life and at the center of the pursuit of the common good.
In light of the Pope's call to all people of good will to protect the life and the rights of all people, I ask everyone to please DON'T FORGET TO VOTE if you have not done so in this very important election year. Early voting has been taking place for many weeks already here in Illinois. Every vote does count and remember, if you do not vote then you have are giving up a most valuable right that every citizen of our great country has.....the right to determine our government. The final day to vote is Tuesday, November 3.
No matter who is elected President/Vice-President, Senator, Representative, to state offices or city offices in this election our responsibilities as citizens and Catholics does not end with the election. As Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis have continually reminded us that as Catholics "we must be the people who respect all of life." We must hold our elected officials responsible for protecting ALL of life. When we say we are "Pro-Life" that is not just one aspect of life...... it means we honor and respect all life whether it is those yet to be born, children and young adults. It means we honor our elders and those who are poor. It means we do all we can to respect the earth upon which we live.
Last week there were a number of news reports stating that over 500 children, who were apprehended at the southern border of the USA in the past few years have not been reunited with their parents and in fact government agencies responsible for reuniting these children and their parents, as ordered by a US District Court reports that they don't know where the parents are. How can officials say they respect life when they have made only feeble attempts to unite these vulnerable and defenseless children who were forcibly separated from their parents?
Though we have a history of racism in our country we have made progress but we have a long way yet to go for the time when Dr. Martin Luther King's dream becomes a reality..........
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
And when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Last week the city and state reinstated restrictions on restaurants, bars and gatherings as the positivity rate for the coronavirus increased showing an alarming rise in those testing positive for the virus. Following medical and scientific advice and not politicians' suggestions or rumors from the internet, I ask you to please wear a mask, avoid large gatherings of people, wash your hands frequently through the day, get plenty of rest and eat healthy to protect not only yourself, your family but also everyone else we encounter. Respect life is helping one another to stay healthy and remember to keep one another in prayer in these difficult times.