October 13, 2012

Of Prayer and Politics

There are many who pray for a political end.   There is nothing wrong with this at all.  That is why it is good for people of faith to speak out on political matters.   Their views are often informed by the wisdom gained by engaging God in prayer.   They have something to contribute to the conversation and they have a stake in its outcome -- to which the Lord is not indifferent.  God, however, cannot be used as a tool for someone's political agenda.

Some who pray for a political end as if it were their ultimate end.  Having cloaked themselves in moral rectitude, their agendas and schemes become the standard of righteousness.  In a world where the end justifies the means, they shamelessly approach God demanding that He take their side.  Insofar as they are doing this, whatever they say they believe, they do not worship God - they worship politics.  And we cannot serve both God and mammon.  Such souls need our prayers.  Politics is a heartless god who is not kind to the integrity of his adherents.

 In prayer, God demands openness to the truth.  If we ask Him for something, He expects us to listen to Him, to let Him enter our hearts and speak to our consciences.  This means, among many other beautiful but difficult things, we need to take stock of His concerns when we ask Him about ours.   He does not care much for our agendas or power struggles.  He is concerned that societies thrive.  He is concerned that cultures develop in a way that builds up and protects all that is good, noble and true.  He is especially concerned about the most vulnerable -- the dying, the unborn, the foreigner, the hungry, the jobless, the homeless, the addict -- He implicates Himself in all these situations and He expects human society to do the same.

To help us understand God's expectations for our political prayers and action, the USCCB has put out Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.  The USCCB also responds to Catholics in public life who have abused their position and not spoken truth.  At a debate last week, the vice-president, a long time public servant and Catholic, grossly misrepresented the impact of the HHS mandate on the Catholic Church, its organizations and the faithful who try to live their their life in accord with its moral teachings.  In so doing, he has put at risk the religious freedom of all Americans and provided grave scandal.  The USCCB has spoken out about this as well. 

Politics a very difficult and those who have dedicated their lives to public service are owed our respect and deserve our prayers - even when we disagree with them.  We also need to pray for one another and our discernment during these days - because in America we all bear responsibility for public life.  Lets pray for those who vote and for those who are unable to.   By prayer and our faithfulness to God in the political arena, we will make space for God to help us build a culture of life and civilization of love.