Lord, teach us to pray:
(To be read by the Leader)
Brothers, this month we continue our journey into the relationship between religion and the political arena. Last month we set the context of our role as Catholic men stating that we have a moral obligation to contribute to the common good, defend the dignity of every human person and to live as faithful citizens. Let’s carry on the questions and the conversation.
(To be read by the Leader)
Should Catholics consider their own faith at the moment of voting? Sounds like a no brainer. It makes perfect sense that our faith that informs what we believe and how we live our lives, should play a role in electing those responsible for governing our nation at all levels of government. “Every citizen ought to be mindful of his right and his duty to promote the common good by using his vote, (Gaudium et Spes 75, The Church in the Modern World).” “Catholics need to understand their faith so that their consciences are properly formed, (p. 15).” So, we live our faith to inform our consciences about why we believe what we believe. Then we research what the candidates are saying about the important issues and we make our decisions to vote according to how they present themselves and their parties’ position on issues that are important to us and our Catholic faith.
Can Catholics honestly disagree in mattes of politics, social or cultural issues? There are indeed many issues upon which Catholics may legitimately disagree. Examples of this might be the best methods to achieve welfare reform, immigration, healthcare etc. “Conversely, however, there are other issues that are intrinsically evil and can never legitimately be supported. For example, Catholics may never legitimately promote or vote for any law that attacks innocent human life, (p. 16).” This is very challenging in some ways. For instance, we may wish to vote for a particular party, but their party platform supports same sex unions. Though the Church does not support same sex unions, the reality is that if the party itself refused to accept what is already legal in the law of the land, it would be very difficult for them to get elected. Thus, limiting their ability to effect important change in a political system.
Should a Catholic follow their conscience when making moral decisions? Short answer, absolutely, yes. Our conscience however is not itself the origin of truth. Truth lies outside and independent of us. “Conscience receives the truth revealed by God and discerns how to apply that truth to concrete circumstances, (p. 17).” A well-informed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates judgements according to reason. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritive teachings, (CCC 1783).” Simply put brothers, our conscience needs to inform all our decisions and actions, but it must be well-formed and informed. In other words, most of us have opinions about most things. But an opinion is only an opinion and really holds no intrinsic value unless it is based on fact and truth. Fact and truth are what we need to properly inform our conscience. In this day and age, we need to be critical about what we accept to be truth or fact when forming our conscience. Our informed conscience enables us to cast a ballot for the politicians and parties that we believe will serve the best interests and the common good of our society. It is the use of our reason and the grace of the Holy Spirit that work together in the formation of our consciences and the acceptance of the truth and the good. Next month, do we need to listen to the Pope and our Bishops when casting our ballots?
(The Leader now invites the members to spend a few moments in silent reflection, as the above text is not meant to be a ready-made answer but a starter for personal reflection on the theme.)
(The leader now invites the members to share with their Brother Knights any relevant thoughts that came to them during the meditation period.)
(Recited by all)
Let us pray: “Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to yours and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”