Despite having been immersed for months in the highly-charged drama of another national election, when tempers cool we must revisit the eternal truths and reassess how competing ideologies have clouded the one goal that matters. Thus as we assess the outcome and sift through the myriad lessons therein, perhaps we can also step back and recall why we’re here, what we’re called to do, and how to proceed from this point.
We cannot ignore the fact that our faith asks us to straddle monumental divides: There is the seeming incongruity between the diligent work required in responding to God’s call each day while exhibiting complete trust that His comprehensive plan is well in hand; there is the challenge of acting responsibly in regards to the increasingly complex aspects of the visible world, while knowing that it is buttressed by an invisible world which is both more concrete and simple — as well as of far greater consequence; and likewise we benefit immensely by adopting the long view of history while simultaneously caring intensely for the time and place in which we are born.
In this last regard, I’ve been mulling over the results of a DNA test that my children got me for a recent birthday. There were no real surprises since I had a rough idea of my gene pool, but I was intrigued by a strong link to the Isle of Man. It just so happens that I had recently read an account of the 12th century Norse-Gaelic lord, King Somerled, who fought hard to unite the surrounding region (Nigel Trantor’s books are all fantastic) and yet, despite tremendous effort, all his work unraveled immediately after his death. Two things alone remained: his descendants and the churches he built—or more specifically the religious heritage he made possible by his benefices.
Ultimately, he is but one of thousands of kings reigning and ruling in but one corner of the globe—and one racked by constant invasions, internal squabbling, and the vagaries of nature. Indeed, if his hard-fought temporal power disintegrated so quickly, what chance is there for our mundane (and plebeian!) efforts to leave a lasting impression? On one level, our temporal works are like drawing a hand through water, and yet they matter. Our eternity is scratched out in these very works, hinging on whether they are couched in virtue or not.
The greatest commandment is to love God, and then to love neighbour for His sake. It’s that simple. Some political arrangements make those things easier, some create obstacles, but nothing can stop the heart that is set on higher things from performing its duties. While health concerns have laid obstacles for the highest of our duties—worshipping God according to divine precept—nothing can interfere with prayer and service to those in need. These things simply require perseverance and creativity.
Nothing was more obvious in recent months than that the acrimony and divisiveness at the heart of this country. Truth be told, a great unraveling may already be on the horizon, but our trust must never be in princes. Our patrimony will be the families we engender, the sacramental life of the Church we support with prayer and gift, and the good we make possible through our acts of charity. Whatever happens in the coming months and years, it is eternity that matters.
Immediately following the election, we heard at Holy Mass the ever timely request of Saint Paul: “Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life” (Phil 2:14-16a). And so we fight for the good, we support what is true, and we pray for God’s holy will to prevail. The rest is but ripples in a stormy sea.
Kineke is a parishioner of Our Lady of Mercy in East Greenwich, and can be found online at feminine-genius.com.