Prayer leads us to make the right choices

November 3, 2008

by Fr. Thomas Balluff, Church of St. Mary of Czestochowa, Delano

We are now getting very close to the election, and I would like to weigh in on a couple of things. I can see five extremely important pieces to making our vote count.

First of all, before we vote for a candidate, from a religious perspective, we need to have a well-formed conscience. What this means is that our Catholic or Christian faith needs to inform us as to what is right and what is wrong.

A well-formed conscience comes from a good, solid Christian upbringing that is based on the Ten Commandments and, of course, the gospel message Jesus leaves with us.

If we do not pray, our well-formed conscience will suffer. If we have a solid, consistent prayer life, then our ability to see more clearly as God sees will grow.

The next step is knowing the issues that each candidate proposes – that each candidate has strengths and weaknesses, gifts, talents, frailties and limitations so that we do not pigeonhole either into an all-good or all-bad scenario. Each issue we look at must be taken into careful consideration, knowing that the different issues have different weights that inform our decisions.

As a Catholic priest, I feel morally bound to speak out most forcefully about the pro-life and culture of life issues. The abortion issue is clearly the most destructive and painful issue of our time. Our nation must first secure the rights of the unborn as the pre-eminent issue, and once this happens, everything else will begin to fall into line.

The protection of the unborn is a fundamental right. If we get it wrong on this one, everything else is jeopardized. In the culture of life, respecting the unborn, and that marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman, are perhaps the weightiest of the issues.

A strong and large middle class is important, an end to racism and sexism are musts, social justice for all is extremely important. However, these are secondary to the weight of the destructive force abortion has caused, and continues to cause in our society, along with the breakdown of the traditional family.

Genesis says that a man will leave his family, and a woman will leave hers to come together, be joined and become one flesh. This union is so beautiful that the husband and wife can actually become co-creators with God in the making of a new life. This union between the two can become a new little baby. A healthy family leads to a healthy culture.

We must be sure that in our discernment process of trying our best to know what is right, we have prayed, spent time with Our Lord, trying to please Him in every way, and that we are trying to courageously serve the common good and not our own selfish ends.

And finally, when we go into the voting booth, we must be prepared. We must know the issues and what each of the candidate proposes; that our conscience is well-formed and we are choosing the one who best represents our prayerful relationship with God.

And after we have voted, we leave with a sense of integrity, joy, and a peacefulness that we have done our best, knowing that we have actually helped to further the kingdom of God here in this world.

Please remember that there are many counting on us to do the right thing, the unselfish thing. Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins, dying a terribly painful death on the cross so that we might have eternal life.

I believe that prayer is the answer. It opens us up to the true reality of God’s love. It helps us to authentically and truthfully see how our Lord wants us to behave, and informs us as to the eternal consequences of the choices we make here in this world.

I pray that God’s will be done.