Election Night at College and Far Away
, November 9, 2012
Benedictine College, St. Michael Hall
By Vincent Petruccelli | Petruccelli is a Sophmore Gregorian Fellow at Benedictine College and the Residence Assistant in St. Michael Hall. He recently attended the International Assembly of Responsibles in La Thuile, Italy, for the lay ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation.
As we watched the results of the election roll in, the sighs grew more and more audible with each projection that was made. Here at Benedictine College, Obama’s victory seems like defeat. Elsewhere, in Boston and Chicago, crowds were clearly jubilant, as they chanted and held their hands high in the shape of “O”’s. Even in the halls of the St. Michael dorm, where we were watching coverage, guys were running around chanting “two terms, two terms”, trying to get a rise out the crowd who all looked like they had lost a relative.
This past week has made me aware of the political system in which we live. With a basic understanding of reality and the human person crumbling, we now must cast votes on what is utterly objective: the institution of marriage, life at conception, just treatment of immigrants and the poor. As though the truth in these things is up to a majority vote. But this is clearly the way our country’s politics run; this is the system I must participate in as an interested citizen.
If it weren’t this way, why would the reelection of a man who is decidedly opposed to basic tenets of the natural law be a cause for such a celebration and excitement, full of the rush of victory? This victory appears to many to be hope for America, hope for free choice, hope for complete liberation. It also appears to be the defeat of our own hope for America.
But our hope comes from other places.
Some days ago, a friend called me while I was eating at the cafeteria and asked for urgent prayers for a girl that was scheduled to have an abortion the next day. Although I couldn’t hear her backstory over the dinnertime noise, it was all the information I needed to begin to pray and to ask others to do the same.
Later that evening I got a chance to talk to this friend and it came out that her family was repeatedly trying to get in touch with the young girl, pleading with her to let them adopt the baby. This beautiful family of nine takes the same initiative with every local abortion they are informed about and sadly it has never turned out. This time was the same story. But is this really another defeat to the life-destroying mentality that rules our country?
Only if we measure our victory by what we can see, by what is as obvious as statistics and voting counts and crowds jumping around chanting Obama. In comparison with the decision of an entire country, what good does the decision of one family do? The real answer is more than my heart of stone can comprehend.
The act of love of this family is not overturning Roe v. Wade; it is not a story that will be used by a politician or be seen on National Television. This act of love is a simple affirmation of the infinite value of each human life. It is an affirmation born of a real faith, faith that transforms everything of life, not just a stance on certain issues. It is a breath of fresh air to hear someone so simply responding to the truth of human life in this season where it seems like that truth is determined by the best discourse. The action of this family is, in a word, a true victory.
If we don’t see any victory in this, it is because we see victory only in what we can see and touch. But, if true, this is a fact more terrible than four more years of a president who flirts with Socialism. If only we listened to the Pope: “Only God’s precedence makes our journey possible, our cooperation, which is always cooperation, and not entirely our own decision. Therefore, it is important always to know that the first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God, and only by inserting ourselves into the divine initiative, only by begging for this divine initiative, shall we too be able to become — with Him and in Him — evangelizers. God is always the beginning”
In every circumstance a Christian is called to this level of life. Before we change anything, before the fabric of our country takes any turn for the better, our lives must be grounded in that “first word, the true initiative”.
The small Yes of that family didn’t save the world. But it is a Yes to the One who already accomplished that work and so it is a glimpse of the only victory that is necessary.
Hopefully these next four years are in fact years of hope and years of change. Not because of any power. But because we, through our daily yes to Christ, become “the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.”
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