Note: This post appeared as a bulletin column for Sunday, October 25, 2020, for St. Michael and St. Albert parishes.
We are less than two weeks from Election Day. Some are looking forward to an end to political ads and debates; some are dreading a contentious aftermath, regardless of the outcome. Maybe you are excited because it’s your first time voting. Maybe you believe this election changes everything. Maybe you wholeheartedly support your candidate, or maybe you are holding your nose to vote against the other guy.
Regardless, it is important to realize that your choice matters. We spend a great deal of time discussing how we should vote, but the act of voting is also critically important. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches:
“Participation” is the voluntary and generous engagement of a person in social interchange. It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. … As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.CCC 1913, 1915
Indeed, rationality and free will are the very things that set us apart as persons, and the ability to choose is essential to human dignity:
Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person.CCC 1738
Christians are sometimes critical of church leaders for not being more directive about elections, parties and candidates. But the act of choosing for ourselves, and the effort required to form our consciences and make a good choice, are critically important, both to society and to our souls. The choice is truly yours, and the struggle is crucial.
So even if you are frustrated with the state of our country or the candidates on the ballot, don’t sit this one out. Dig in, discern and VOTE.
One more thing: Many years ago, I worked with a man who was in a position to endorse political candidates and influence public opinion. His inclination, however, was to support the person he thought would win the election, rather than the candidate who was best for the job.
We are not obligated to pick the winner. Whatever the outcome on November 3, God’s hand is upon His people, and His desire is to bring us home to Him. Indeed, He may call us to vote, and even lose, on principle—to give up everything in order to gain something even greater that only He can foresee.
So form your conscience, make your decision, cast your vote and be at peace. “Put no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save” (Psalm 146:3). Our King is not of this world, and in the end, we answer to Him alone.
Resources for Catholic Voters
- Ascension Presents: The Catholic View on Voting and Politics (video)
- Bishop Robert Barron: Four Principles for Catholics During Election Season (article)
- Minnesota Catholic Conference: 2020 Election Resources (webpage and links)
- US Council of Catholic Bishops: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (webpage and links)