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What really matters in the world

As my stalwart parish bulletin readers know, I use the social media to inspire, to inform, and to entertain, and to seek the same from others. My favorite podcast is “Clerically Speaking,” with two younger priests talking about whatever you might imagine. In one of their features, they report quality Twitter content.

One such presence, Father Joseph Krupp (@joeinblack), recently said this: “I’m getting calls and visits from people who want to convince me to preach in support of Biden or Trump. I’m using the opportunity to ask for help feeding the poor. No one has said yes yet. If we were as passionate about Jesus as we are about our candidate, it would change the world.”

Helping the poor is an aspect of parish life we cannot ignore. Now, it doesn’t have to happen on our campus for “the parish” to be doing it. When you help at home or somewhere else, keep in mind, that’s “the parish” helping the poor. Spiritual poverty matters alongside material poverty. All those works of mercy glorify God and help their intended recipients.

I haven’t preached much on abortion, at least directly, but over the years I have counseled women and men who were involved in abortions and have repented. Those conversations have changed me as a human being and as a priest. They show me how central mercy is: God’s love bringing great good from great evil. The number of innocent lives affected, inside and outside the womb, cries out for greater awareness, acceptance, and action upon this truth.

I cannot understand how a politician can support unmitigated access to abortion or constrain citizens to pay for it. I further cannot understand how a politician might neglect the various fearsome conditions that encourage abortion. That leaves this voter in the lurch.

Our “consumer culture” has long formed us to use people and love things, when the Gospel would form us to love people and use things. We can speak of Jesus as “healer of nations” because He first healed people. People fed with the Eucharist must feed others spiritually and materially so those people can be strengthened to make good choices. Starving each other with empty or corrupt talk is no political path, nor should it fly within families.

Political involvement is good, but we must be cautious, especially in these days, to avoid a certain cult of political figures.

Don’t be deceived into thinking “the right person” will prevent everything from falling apart. Because of the fall of the human person, everything in this world is going to fall apart, as if by design.

Don’t invest all of you, especially the worst of you, in candidates and parties engineered to disappoint.

The political change we seek, like personal conversion, begins at home, with concrete service. Legislation and jurisprudence matter, yes, but concrete service is closer to you than the White House, Capitol Hill or Supreme Court. When Pope St. John Paul II spoke of a Culture of Life, he intended Catholics to be Catholics, people of good will to be such, by equipping mothers and fathers and children concretely as we alone can.

One more Tweet: Brother Simon, OSB (@monksimonosb), quoting a fellow Benedictine: “Until you are convinced that prayer is the best use of your time, you will not find time for prayer.”

I must consider my personal relationship with God in prayer the most reliable place where God works.

Recall this weekend is World Mission Sunday. On Oct. 1 we celebrated St. Therese of Lisieux, co-patroness of the missions, who from the age of 14 to her death 10 years later never left her convent. You get that? The missions, sustained by the prayers of an immobile mover of hearts.

Despite whatever happens in this election, whatever part you or I might choose to take in it, remember: God is in control. And you and I, do best to be available to Him as locally as possible in prayer and service, surrendering the control we’d like to have over the particulars.

Much of the structure and some of the content of this homily came from my listening to Episode 114 of “Clerically Speaking,” which I humbly yet forcefully recommend to your open ears.