Love God With Everything — Including Your Vote

By Father Matthew Habiger, OSB | A moral theologian, former president of HLI and noted expert on Natural Family Planning, Fr. Habiger is a monk at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas.

A homily for Nov. 4, 2012, the 31st Sunday in ordinary time.

Jesus gives us the two great commandments in today’s Gospel.  We are to love God with all that we have and are.   Why?  Because everything that we have is God’s gift to us.  He has given us everything; so also must we must respond to Him with all our love.

Tuesday is the great Election Day.  How do we relate the two great commandments to this?

It helps to remember that God gave us life and liberty so that we could make good decisions, and do good works during our brief journey in this world. Last Friday was All Souls Day.  It reminds us that we cannot stay here.  We must eventually move on to another world.  Then God will ask us for an accounting for all our decisions, and for all our deeds.

God knows what is right, and He knows what is wrong.  He designed the entire moral order.  If we love God, then we will pursue the good in all that we do: in our choices, our decisions, deeds, the way we treat other people, and the way we live and value our Faith.

Keep thinking about voting.  This is a serious moral responsibility.  We vote in secrecy at the voting booth, but God knows how we vote.  He holds us accountable for choosing good leaders, who live and govern by moral principles, who fear and honor God, who have a clear sense of the common good, and who are not swayed by fickle public opinion, self-interest, secularism and materialism.

Vote like your eternal relationship with God depends upon it, because it does.

Archbishop Chaput, a good Kansas native, said recently: “We are Catholics before we are Democrat, we are Catholics before we are Republican, and we are even Catholics before we are Americans.”  If you love God with your full being, as Jesus states in today’s Gospel, then you will understand what Chaput is saying.

Last week I was in Peoria, IL, helping give a clergy conference to 125 priests on the theme: “How to Preach God’s Plan for Marriage, Spousal Love and Family.”  The bishop there is Daniel Jenky, CSC.  Here is what he is having read at all the Masses in his diocese this weekend:

“Dear Catholic Believers,
Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present. Neither the president of the United States nor the current majority of the Federal Senate have been willing to even consider the Catholic community’s grave objections to those HHS mandates that would require all Catholic institutions, exempting only our church buildings, to fund abortion, sterilization, and artificial contraception. This assault upon our religious freedom is simply without precedent in the American political and legal system. Contrary to the guarantees embedded in the First Amendment, the HHS mandates attempt to now narrowly define and thereby drastically limit our traditional religious works. They grossly and intentionally intrude upon the deeply held moral convictions that have always guided our Catholic schools, hospitals, and other apostolic ministries.
Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: “Behold your King.” The mob roared back: “We have no king but Caesar.” Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord. They are objectively guilty of grave sin. For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life. God is not mocked, and as the Bible clearly teaches, after this passing instant of life on earth, God’s great mercy in time will give way to God’s perfect judgment in eternity.
I therefore call upon every practicing Catholic in this Diocese to vote. Be faithful to Christ and to your Catholic Faith. May God guide and protect His Holy Church, and may God bless America.
Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC
Catholic Bishop of Peoria”

Perhaps you saw our Archbishop Naumann on The World Over Thursday night, interviewed by Raymond Arroyo.   This weekly program brings you some of the best-informed people to discuss current issues that relate to the Faith.  Archbishop Naumann stressed that voting is a moral act.  We must vote our conscience, but our conscience is not a blank check.  We can’t make it say whatever we want.  Rather, we must inform, and shape it, with solid moral principles, taken from the Gospels and from reliable Church teaching.  Then we are to apply these principles to concrete problems and events.  That is why we call the Church our “Teacher.”

Choosing our leaders is a major event.  A democracy means that the people govern themselves by electing good leaders, who share their values.  The survival of a democracy is never guaranteed.  It is always a work in progress. A democracy can be strengthened, and it can be weakened.  Consider what happened in Germany in the 1930s.  Consider what is happening today in Greece, France, Spain and Portugal.

We usually get the leaders we deserve.  May we deserve well.

May the love of God be our most cherished value in all that we do.

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.