Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Election Novena and Prayers

In our country laws and decrees have been issued telling us that we must do things against our beliefs, against our faith, and even against our very nature.  “As you believe, so you will act.”  We are being told, legally, how we must act.  We are being told what we must believe.
At this morning’s mass one of our petitions was for “laws consistent with reality, and the dignity of the human person.”  I thought on that some after mass: “for laws consistent with reality.”  Then I remembered a song from the musical Camelot, and its words which said: “A law was made a distant moon ago here; (in Camelot,) July and August cannot be too hot. … The rain may never fall till after sundown, (and) by eight the morning fog must disappear.”  Camelot, the song said, made laws not consistent with reality, but then Camelot was only a dream.  You cannot change reality with laws.  Man and woman create children with God’s blessing in marriage, not man and man, nor man and dog, nor man and rock.  You cannot legislate a different reality.  Every human life is infinitely more valuable than an animal or a tree, and you cannot legislate otherwise --- yet around the world, and here, are those who would declare them of equal value and rights.  There are many who would try to legislate against reality, to create a reality of their dreams.  The reality they wish won’t happen, but many may suffer under their commands.
This Election Day is a crucial one, and so I found it most fitting that today’s Reading in the Liturgy of the Hours included the prayer of Queen Esther.  Perhaps you do not remember the story:
The government issued a decree for all the land because of what the Jews believed and practiced. The decree said they had “laws differing from those of other people,” and therefore all Jews were to be put to death on a certain date.  Queen Esther saw that there might be a way to change that decree:  like our election day, there was a day on which she might appeal to the king.  In preparation for that critical day, Esther asked that all Jewish people pray and fast for three days, and that God might be merciful on that day and the fate of the Jewish people changed.  And Queen Esther herself pleaded to God these words:
My Lord, Our King, you alone are God.  Help me, who am alone and have no help but you.  O Lord, … let them not gloat over our ruin, but turn their own counsel against them and make an example of our chief enemy.  Be mindful of us, O Lord.  Manifest yourself in the time of our distress and give me courage.  Save us by your power, and help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O Lord.
O God, more powerful than all, hear the voice of those in despair.  Save us from the power of the wicked and deliver me from my fear.
And Esther’s prayer was answered, and the Jewish people were saved.
No one has decreed that Christians must die in our country, only that our beliefs must.  And perhaps that might be worse than death.  The early Christians were offered a similar choice:  offer incense to Caesar and his decrees --- i.e., change your beliefs --- or die.  Many martyrs chose death.
In my front yard I display a sign stating what I believe is the most important issue in this election:  Preserve Religious Freedom.  There are those running for office whose election platform statement implies that: “What I believe is more important than what you believe, and you will obey me,” and not your God.
Esther pleaded with God that He might have mercy on the Jewish people.  I believe that we would do well to follow her example.
In the parish of which I am a member, and the one nearby where I attend daily mass, there are many structured prayers and pleadings with God planned for these days leading up to the election, and for the election day and night.  Perhaps you might avail yourself of them, or initiate similar events at your church. 
My parish is encouraging all to pray a nine-day novena for our country, starting next Sunday, October 28, and ending on the Monday before the election.  You can download it here.   (
On the Monday evening before the election, my parish will hold a Holy Hour and rosary.  I don’t know if my parish has ever held a Holy Hour service before, but this Election Day, coupled with this Year of Faith, is a good time to start.  There will be more.  
Finally, at both parishes will be 24-hour adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.  At one parish where Adoration is routinely done, it will have special emphasis with the Holy Hour.  At the other will be Adoration during the entire Election Day and evening.  Instead of sitting home watching television wondering about results, the people of God will be encouraged to spend time with Him, even as Queen Esther did, in prayer, pleading for our country. 
Sitting in front of the television election night will change nothing, but as Esther found, prayer can change the fate of nations.     

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