Tired of the shouting, name-calling and vitriol in the presidential campaigns?
A FaceBook friend linked to a post by Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D.: of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy; editor of the blog Oblation: Catechesis, Liturgy and the New Evangelization; and editor of Church Life: A Journal for the New Evangelization
O'Malley's post is titled A Eucharistic Critique of the American Presidential Elections: A Proposal for Authentic Faithful Citizenship and offers a non-violent approach to faithful citizenship based in Eucharistic theology. Some will find his thesis pious and impractical but I hope more will find it a helpful, welcome and radically faithful to what we Catholics believe. In his essay O'Malley offers three non-violent approaches to faithful citizenship between now and the November elections:
So, then, how do we form Catholics in a non-violent approach to faithful citizenship?
First, let’s shut off our televisions during the political season. Don’t watch CNN or MSNBC or Fox News (watch baseball, it’s generally safer). Don’t tune in to the political advertising, instead putting it on mute when it occurs. Watch the debates (with a hermeneutic of suspicion), read about the policy, have intelligent discussions with friends, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, on precisely the substantive questions mentioned above. If we begin to do this, we might discover how politics can be liberating, not destructive and violent. In particular, students in high schools and college will discern a new way of being political, and perhaps in future generations, we’ll discover we have a President and a Congress capable of real, serious, albeit charitable debate, one that seeks the true, the good, and the beautiful.
Second, let’s stop placing cynical and angry posts, memes, etc., on Facebook, on Twitter, on Linked In. There is a place for righteous anger, but it requires astute discernment to determine whether or not one’s anger is righteous or an occasion of sin. Further, to pass on such anger to others is to perpetuate the system of violence. Today, we need a new martyrdom; not a triumphalist one, but a martyrdom in which Christians throughout the country witness to the possibility of a politics in which hatred and falsehood are not perpetuated. In which all politics are defined by the order of love, of seeking the good of another. This is hard (and why there is necessarily a kind of suffering in martyrdom). It requires that we listen to positions that challenge our deepest held beliefs, and that we don’t respond immediately in a spirit of attack. It requires that we learn to articulate our own positions clearly, in total love. It requires us to accept defeat at times (at least at the level of policy), and then to find other ways to live out our deepest-held convictions, even if it places us on the margins of society.
And this leads us to the third aspect of our formation. We must learn again that the city of God is not the city of humanity. Politics, no matter how well practiced, will not save us. Even the best political and economic plans of a particular candidate will never lead to an encounter with ultimate reality. The election of “Candidate X” will not fulfill our deepest desires as human beings. For, we will only encounter true peace, true wisdom, true love in the eschaton, at that point when the city of the heavenly Jerusalem comes to transfigure the earth. This does not mean that we as Christians should divorce ourselves from the world, becoming quietists waiting for heaven. We are still to act, to hope for political solutions, for a world of genuine peace. But, we must hope with sobriety. And when political disappointment occurs (and it will often happen), we are to remember that God is the primary actor in human history, a dramatist who shines light into the darkest moments of human action.
(Read O'Malley's entire essay for the Eucharistic foundation for these suggestions)
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