I was up very late last night, watching the election returns, and then watching the candidates' speeches. One lasting effect of having a deep interest in politics is that I can't go to bed on election night while races I care about are still at issue; and then I'm keyed up.
This morning I hit the road early, to drive up to Centerville for the priests' annual convocation. A lot of the event is my responsibility, and today was my first time being responsible. Guys said things went well--although I did notice a few things I want to do differently next year and a few miscues. I know there were some who didn't care for the topic--I hope they will convey that, not only to me, but to those who plan these things each year.
But the big topic on so many minds is the election. I know many of my readers will be deeply disappointed, if not downright gloomy. Certainly several of my brother priests were gloomy. So I'll offer some thoughts.
First, I would suggest that in politics, it is rare that things are really as bad as you think, and as good as you think. The day after an election, one side is exultant and the other often looks for scapegoats. Hang tight.
Second, the real challenges we face aren't going to be solved by an election, nor made insoluble by an election. I know a lot of my friends placed great hopes on Mr. Romney; I did not. I sincerely believe that he would have proved a great disappointment. He was the focus of so many folks' hopes not so much because of his actual merits, but because of the terrible positions embraced by the President. Of course, I can never really prove I'm right about that, so there's no point in arguing over it. But I mention it to explain why I'm not so depressed as many may be.
Third, our ability to fight back has not changed. When President Obama handed down his forced-contraception-participation mandate, I saw the hand of Providence. I still do. It sure seems as though a spotlight is shining down on the Church, at this moment, with the opportunity to bear witness.
That moment hasn't passed. It may be coming to its full.
It's obvious we face a confrontation over the redefinition of marriage. The solution to that did not lie in the election of any one candidate. (And even with the President's re-election, I think we have plenty of political resources available.)
Look, I don't mean to sound breezy about such confrontations; but they are coming, and there comes a time when you just say, let's get to the battle. Do we believe that what we're fighting for is true and right? We know it is! We know that marriage is a man and a woman. Trying to pretend 2+2=5 will eventually crash and burn. We already have evidence accumulating that attempts at same-sex "families" result in real problems for the children raised in them. This will not end well. You and I must be ready to help pick up the pieces.
Contraception is, in every regard, a disaster. It is not merely a thing we Catholics have an irrational opposition to; it's a poison, it's an ecological hazard, it's destructive to marriages, and now we know it's a social disaster. Daily--right now!--the truth of what Pope Paul VI warned in 1968 is being confirmed. Before very long, the reality will come crashing upon us. As the Prophet Habakkuk said,
Then the LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision;
Make it plain upon tablets,
so that the one who reads it may run.
For the vision is a witness for the appointed time,
a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint.
If it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
The fourth thing I will say, simply about the political arena: a lot of folks, I think, continually make the mistake of looking merely at the commentary and the surface stuff, and focus only on what's highly visible. A lot of good things are happening in House races and in state races. And, unlike 2009, the President does not have the ability to do whatever he likes. We live to fight another day.
Finally, the thing that happens all too often is the twist and turn that nobody (or very few) anticipated. History is full of surprises. Providence works like that.