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9 Reasons to join the U.S. bishops’ election novena


ARNE DEDERT | dpa Picture-Alliance | AFP

Tom Hoopes - published on 10/25/20

Benedict XVI's insight in our Reason #5 is enlightening and might help you explain yourself to those who disagree with your politics.

For nine consecutive days — Monday, October 26, through Tuesday, November 3 — the U.S. bishops will pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be with a daily intention for the elections. You can sign up for it here.

Here are nine reasons to do so:

1: To live the Beatitudes you have to vote.

When Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.” 

But “God so loved the world that he sent his son to save it” and we love it too. When Jesus described what life in his kingdom was like in the Beatitudes, he included what we should be doing here and now:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied,” he said. And “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” 

Hunger and thirst for righteousness — and peace — should drive us to vote.

2: The first pope said you should.

The Church has a long history of seeing the importance of political life. 

St. Peter said, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors.” But he also said that citizens have certain civic duties. “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God,” he said.  

Today in the United States, free people vote.

3: The current pope also says you should.

“Sometimes we hear: a good Catholic is not interested in politics,” Pope Francis said. “This is not true: good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.”

4: Christians are supposed to transform the world.

An Early Christian writer in the Letter to Diogentus described Christians’ duties.

“What the soul is in the body, Christians are in the world,” says the letter. “The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body; and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. … Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.”

He knew that Christians were a hidden but critical part of the Roman empire, because, like yeast, the Church is meant to transform the flock. Today we do this, in part, by voting.

5: Church and state are separate; but lay Catholics and the state are not.

Pope Benedict XVI commented extensively on the separation of Church and state in his encyclical on love of God (No. 28-29 here). 

“The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible,” he said, but, “The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity.”

6: Participation is especially important in a nation whose virtues are spreading all over the world.

America has been called the “new Rome” a lot over the years. We are the global superpower that is spreading its way of governance all over the world.

On his visit to the United States, Pope Francis praised the Declaration of Independence, saying, “Those ringing words continue to inspire us today, even as they have inspired peoples throughout the world to fight for the freedom to live in accordance with their dignity.”

Catholics, as the “soul” of the “New Rome” can continue to inspire the world or …

7: America can become a dark imperial force if we don’t do our job.

Rome wasn’t only a force for good in the world, and neither is America. The United States exports pornography, violent entertainment, abortion, and immorality. 

Rome’s political sins were the fault of the Emperor and the Senate. But in America, “we the people” direct the government at the local, state, and national levels.

8: We can do in the “new Rome” what Christians did in the “old Rome.”

St. Peter’s Basilica is built on the site of an ancient Roman circus, and features Nero’s obelisk in its square, a constant reminder that Christianity transformed the empire’s darkness into light. Because the persecuted Christians who are our forefathers stayed close to Jesus Christ in the face of opposition, the story of Rome became the story of the Church.

Today, Catholics in America can once again be the “little flock” of Jesus that repurposes the world’s leading superpower.

9: Religious freedom demands that we vote.

The bishops’ novena petition on the last day before the election will be: “May we keep in mind the gift of religious freedom and our duty to defend and exercise it as faithful citizens.” 

Religious freedom is the pass that allows Catholics to have their say in American public life. There are two ways it can be lost: It can be taken away from us, or we can give it away. Both can only happen if we don’t vote.

Sign up for the novena here.


Read more:
Pope: We have to do more than insult our politicians. We have to pray for them


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