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November is by far my favorite month of the year.  It’s sort of bittersweet, but that is why I like it.  The darkness lengthens, the trees turn, the air becomes chilled.  And yet there is a special light and warmth as well.  The warm hues of autumn leaves and gourds and chrysanthemums.  The golden tone of the slanting sunlight.  All the abundance and togetherness and festivities–not to mention smells and tastes–of the Thanksgiving feast.  Wearing sweaters and fleecy pajamas for the first time in months.  I appreciate and cherish these things more with each passing year!

I turned 36 this month, and that too was bittersweet.  On one hand, I feel disappointment because my life at this age is nothing like how I always hoped and anticipated.  I thought that surely by this time, I would be married and have at least a couple of children and a house all our own.  Maybe I would even be able to leave the workforce to tend to the home and educate the children.  I fully expected to be living a normal, respectable, successful life.  But things have not turned out that way.  In some ways, I feel like I have not made any progress at all from where I was ten years ago… only I’ve lost people and things that made up so much of the joy I had ten years ago.

But I’ve also gained important things: faith, maturity, and wisdom.  And the older I get, the more I cherish the important things and the less I care about unimportant things, such as what people think or say about me, or how the world measures what is normal, respectable, and successful.  The older I get, the more content (but not complacent) I become.  And that is very liberating!

Also this month was Election Day in the United States, and it included the biggest election of all, the presidential election.  I did my civic duty as a voter, and did so proudly and gratefully.  But on the whole, I don’t put too much stock in government and politics.  There is no form of worldly government that can make me entirely secure and confident.  There is no form of worldly government that can make people happy.  Happiness and security and confidence come from the heavenly kingdom and its Lord.  This is not to say that the election didn’t impact me.  It impacted me in that it revealed, yet again, how very polarized this nation is.  No matter who won the most votes, nearly half the nation was going to feel defeated and frustrated and defiant.  That’s not a good thing, and I don’t envy the president one bit.  I also don’t much envy those who put him in office, for the burden of what happens in the next four years is going to be largely upon them.

But as for me, I shall continue doing what I always do and putting my trust and hope where I always put them, in my King and my God.  My citizenship and good standing in His kingdom will always come first.  Funny how folks in this country used to be suspicious of Catholics and say that Catholics could never be good Americans because they give their primary allegiance to the Vatican.  The Vatican?!  Boy, they didn’t know the half of it!  They thought much too lowly and safely and mundanely of us.  For we Catholics don’t just give our primary allegiance to another worldly kingdom, but to a completely otherworldly kingdom.  We Catholics are far more bold and radical than our fellow citizens have ever given us credit for.  The rather ironic part is that our allegiance to God and His kingdom actually entail being loyal and responsible to our earthly homes and leaders (or at least their offices). In the spirit of true charity, we love and serve our nation and respect our leaders out of love for God and Heaven. To adapt the famous last words of St. Thomas More, “I am the Republic’s good servant, but God’s first.”

November increases my tendency to wax poetic and philosophic.

For now, I am going to put aside my computer and go fix myself a nightcap of hot chocolate blended with a little tot of whiskey.

It sure has been a crazy week.  I’m exhausted!

I do want to recommend a couple of excellent items I found over at Father Z’s place:

Bp. Finn on the eve of the election: “Woe to those…”

John Allen’s open letter to Pres.-Elect Obama

Both are very much worth reading.

Boy, that Bishop Finn… he just hasn’t been letting up!  God bless him for it! We need men like him–real men, real fathers, real shepherds, real generals in the spiritual war.  Only they will be able get Catholic Americans through the tough times that likely lay ahead.  Here at home, I am hoping to hear more from our two Bishop Kevins, either singly or jointly.  I’m confident they’ll see us through, despite the massive throngs of furious protesters (not!).

I’m really interested to see how things play out with the supposedly pro-life Catholic supporters of Obama.  They’ve protested their pro-life Catholic-ness all the way, despite acting contrary to the teachings of the bishops.  Are they now going to join in the good fight, side by side with their fellow Catholics, even if it means squarely opposing their candidate?  Are they going to conveniently ditch the pro-life Catholic label now that they’ve got their man in office, and be indifferent to the confusion, scandal, and deep wounds they’ve wrought in the Church?  Basically–are they going to come out for us or against us? I think it’s beyond time for them to unequivocally choose a side.  No more contriving to be both with us and against us at the same time!  And we will need the bishops to hold them to it, one way or the other.

Interesting times ahead, I’m sure!

I’m off to slumber now.

During the past 24 hours, I’ve cycled through the gamut of emotions and the grief cycle regarding Sen. Obama’s presidential win.

And now… I think it’s OK.

Not that I’ve changed my views to match his, or anything crazy like that.  No… it really comes down to the Serenity Prayer, doesn’t it:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I can’t change the fact that Obama is going to be the president of my country.  So I’m just going to march on to the next campaign: namely, to do everything I possibly can to make sure Pres. Obama doesn’t make FOCA the law of the land.

And while I march on to this next campaign, I’m praying with every step that the campaign won’t really need to be fought.  I’m praying that, by the grace of God, Pres. Obama will come around, ditch his friends from Planned Parenthood, and, at the very least, allow current restrictions on abortion to keep standing.  Or who knows, maybe he’ll renounce all his previous pro-abortion positions and take actual, practical steps to curtail abortion.  Now that would be change!  And I and the rest of the Church Militant could turn toward home, singing Non Nobis and Te Deum.

Yeah, I know, the chances of things working out that way are slim.  Maybe nearly non-existent.

But remember this: if this race were taking place 4 years ago, I would have been one of those crying and fainting people at an Obama rally.  I would have looked to him as a messiah, because Heaven knows I didn’t accept the real one.  In fact, I could have given most Obama supporters a run for their money with my ultra-liberal ideology, which included being pro-choice in the extreme.

Think of that person I was a mere 4 years ago.  And look at the person I am now.  How did such a radical and fundamental change come about?  It was God’s grace.  Sheer, utter grace.  And no doubt the accumulated prayers of my parents and other loved ones.  We need to give Obama, Biden, and all our civil leaders our prayers!  Prayers for special graces of conversion, prayers that they may seek and fulfill God’s will.

Pray!  Fast!  Do penance!  Keep your Rosary close at hand, as if it were your sword.  Remember Lepanto.  Nothing is impossible with God.

Write to your congresspeople to tell them you don’t want FOCA.  Write to your bishop and encourage him to speak out–or continue to speak out.  And don’t forget to thank him!

Go to Fight FOCA and sign their petition!

They’re declaring Obama’s victory.  McCain has conceded.  It seems so early… is it really over already?

Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from us; still, not our will but Yours be done.

And please, do send Your holy angels to strengthen us.  We will need it, for a long, steep, arduous journey is beginning, and our crosses are bound to be heavy.

St. Michael the Archangel, protect us.

Immaculate Conception and Queen of Victory, pray for us.

Our Lord and our God, have mercy on us.

We’re down to the wire.  The last I heard, the presidential race was still extremely close.

I’m beginning a Rosary novena to run through Election Day to Our Lady of Victory–she whose intercession helped save Europe from Turkish invasion at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.  We in the United States need her intercession now more than ever.  We have no stronger weapon than the Rosary!  Together, let us take our beads in hand and fight!

If you’re rusty or unfamiliar with the Rosary, or you have difficulty with it, check out this site.  It taught me how to pray the Rosary after my reversion to the faith.

Or, if the Rosary simply isn’t your “thing,” the Catholic Pro-Life Committee here in Dallas has lots of other ideas on how to wage your Prayer Campaign for Life.

[Update]

Catholic Vote also has a prayer campaign starting today.

And, as I’ve mentioned previously, there is also Fast for Hope.

Even if you can’t get started today, don’t let that stop you from jumping in whenever you can!

I early voted.  As far as I’m concerned, the election is over.  It’s in God’s hands now.  May the best men and women win.

I thought I’d posted this before, but I guess not.  It’s a beautiful and moving video from CatholicVote.com

The joint statement issued by Dallas’s Bishop Kevin Farrell and Fort Worth’s Bishop Kevin Vann about voting when abortion is at stake has apparently ruffled some feathers here locally.  Not surprising.  And while it’s quite saddening that there should be such disunity among Catholics, I generally consider it a good sign when bishops ruffle some feathers!  Here’s an article from the local newspaper, with my emphases and comments:

Catholic bishops’ letter on voting causes a stir, with critics likening it to an endorsement McCain

By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News

Some North Texas Catholics are upset with a letter written to them by their local bishops, saying it amounts to an endorsement of John McCain for president.

“I was personally offended,” said Phillip Archer of Dallas. “My bishop basically told me that if I vote for Barack Obama, I will go to hell.”  [I'm sorry he was personally offended, but Catholic teachings are quite impartial and quite above and beyond personal feelings.  The bishops most certainly did not say anybody will go to Hell!  That would be blasphemy!  Only God makes that judgment.  The bishops did, however, warn Catholics that the way they vote has a very real and grave moral effect on one's soul.  One can possibly endanger one's soul through voting, just as through any other immoral action.  That does not mean one will go to Hell; there's always repentance!  That's what the Church teaches, and that's what the bishops said.  I'm sure he'd find it easier to rationalize his position if the bishops had condemned him like that and played the bad guys... but that's just not what happened.]

The letter by Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas and Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Fort Worth says in part: “To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or ‘abortion rights’ when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.”

Mr. Obama, the Democratic candidate, supports abortion rights. The Republicans’ nominee, Mr. McCain, favors overturning Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that protects abortion rights.

The bishops’ letter was distributed or read at parishes across the Diocese of Dallas this weekend. The Fort Worth Diocese is distributing the letter through its newspaper, which is being mailed to all registered Catholic families in the diocese.

Nicole LeBlanc said several people at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Dallas walked out during the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass when the letter was read at the time usually reserved for a homily. 

Ms. LeBlanc, an Obama supporter, said she, too, was upset.

“As a Catholic, we’re taught about being independent moral agents with free will,” she said. [Of course we have free will, as a matter of Church teaching (which is why I hate it when anyone calls Catholics "anti-choice").  But "independent moral agents"?  That makes it sound like we each get to define our own morality.  The Catholic Church does not teach that!  God defines morality, and communicates it through the Church.] “That letter from the bishops is basically telling us that if we vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights, we are basically immoral and our souls are imperiled.”  [Welcome to the fallen world.  Voting is part of it.  The way you vote may harm your soul.]

Ms. LeBlanc also said she felt the letter “has gone too far towards bringing political endorsements in the [C]hurch, which is obviously not legal.”

She and Mr. Archer, who also attends Holy Trinity, said a protest of the letter is likely to occur outside the headquarters of the Dallas Diocese on Wednesday afternoon.  [American Papist got confirmation that a protest did take place.  It's news to me; haven't heard any details.]

The bishops declined to comment Monday. By Monday afternoon, the Diocese of Dallas had received 30 comments on the letter, 80 percent of them supportive, said communications director Annette Gonzales Taylor.  [Not at all surprised, but glad to hear it.  I sent a note of appreciation to Bishop Farrell.  If you click that American Papist link, it includes contact info.]

“I don’t think it’s an endorsement or a condemnation of a specific candidate,” said Rick Nyman, a Frisco Catholic who applauded the letter. “I think it’s a reminder of what [C]hurch dogma is. If you like it, fine. If you don’t like it, that’s not so fine, but we love you anyhow.”  [It's not so much a matter of liking the dogma.  It's a matter of loving and trusting God and His Church, and therefore willing yourself to obey them through obeying the dogma.  The loving and trusting part is absolutely essential to being Catholic; the obeying part will follow naturally.  But yes, even if you do opt to disobey, God still loves you, and so do we.]

Ms. Taylor said the letter was not an endorsement of any political candidate but sought to clarify Catholic teachings, particularly a document issued by U.S. bishops called “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” She said the bishops felt the document was being misunderstood by some in their dioceses.

Ms. LeBlanc said she has studied the document and believes the bishops have drawn from it selectively, emphasizing one approach to combating abortion and leaving out other key issues.  [How are other key issues left out?  Catholics belong to the largest, most active humanitarian organization in the history of the world.  On top of that, Ms. LeBlanc's own Holy Trinity parish is run by Vincentians!  There will never be any lack of addressing those other issues!  Never.  Not for her, nor for any Catholic.  And the government can't change that.  But when her candidate comes in and passes FOCA and carries out all his other pro-abortion plans--what then? What will our plan be for addressing abortion?  There is only one approach, as she says herself.  And it necessarily involves trying to keep any fiercely, radically pro-abortion candidate out of office.  Not to try to put him there!]

” ‘Faithful Citizenship,’ to me and a lot of other Catholics, allows us to form our consciences, weighing all those issues, even though we may vote for a candidate that does not favor outlawing abortion,” she said.  [It allows no such thing.  We do not form our own consciences; we allow God and the Church to form them.  Otherwise, there would be no need for the Holy Spirit, much less for the bishops--they would be completely optional.  Did God send the Spirit and commission the apostles just to give us options?  Catholics don't believe so!]

The bishops’ letter evoked criticism from the nonprofit group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  [Shock of shocks.]

“This is clearly an attempt on the part of these bishops to do an end-run around the federal tax law ban on electioneering by churches,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, the group’s executive director.

But Matthew Wilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University and a Catholic, said the bishops are “completely in the clear from a legal standpoint” with the letter and accurately reflect the [C]hurch’s teaching.  [YES.  Thank you, Prof!]

“They are choosing to be more proactive about giving political guidance than most bishops so far have been, but there is nothing radical about the theology underlying their message,” Dr. Wilson said.  [YES!  And we love them for it!]

The bishops’ letter quotes from “Faithful Citizenship” as it identifies other “intrinsic evils,” including same-sex unions, euthanasia and “destructive” human embryonic stem cell research. The letter notes the [C]hurch’s concern with poverty, health care and immigration reform.  [Well, of course.  Does anyone really think that our bishops and all other Catholics don't care about these issues?  The pro-Obama folks tend to suggest that a lot, and it's ridiculous.]

But abortion gets the heaviest stress.

“As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the pre-eminent intrinsic evil of our day,” the letter says.  [That sums it up beautifully.  Now, what exactly is there for a Catholic to object to in there?]

Both bishops are fairly new on the job, with Bishop Vann having been leader of the Fort Worth Diocese since July 2005 and Bishop Farrell of the Dallas Diocese since May 2007.

A Gallup poll in late June found slightly more support among Catholics for Mr. Obama than for Mr. McCain.  [I wonder what those numbers would be now.  In any case, poll results do not matter.  They don't make evil good, they don't make darkness light, they don't make wrong right.]

I don’t know what else to say, except for the obvious: we need to pray for Mr. Archer, Ms. LeBlanc, the people who walked out of the Mass at Holy Trinity, and everybody who is still determined to support Sen. Obama.  Not because they don’t have the right to choose their own candidate, but because supporting that particular man is the wrong thing to do.  It could have disastrous effects on our nation, our Church, and upon each supporter’s soul.

I’ve come across several really good articles on just how extreme Obama’s stance on abortion is.  I thought I had a pretty good idea, but I was actually taken aback by reading these.  And I kept thinking, “How can anybody support Obama if they really know what sorts of things he advocates?  He is beyond ‘pro-choice.’  Way beyond!”

If you only have time to read one article on this topic, you should read “Obama’s Abortion Extremism” by Robert George, for the Witherspoon Institute. George thoroughly examines the arguments that Christians use to justify their support of Obama and presents the facts of what Obama really stands for–facts that invalidate any argument that Obama is anything other than extremely pro-abortion, and therefore an unjustifiable choice for Christians.

Another must-read is “Pro-Life Catholics For Obama: Should abortion be the litmus test for political support?by George Weigel, for Newsweek (!).  Weigel looks specifically at arguments presented by Catholic supporters such as Doug Kmiec, Nick Cafardi, Nancy Pelosi, and, of course, Obama’s VP candidate, Joe Biden.  He looks at the responses of our bishops, and considers what effect Obama’s pro-abortion success would have on the Catholic Church.

Last but not least is “Lives Depend on Your Vote: Obama and the culture of death,” by National Review editor Kathryn Jean Lopez.  I think this one speaks for itself: lives really do hang in the balance of this election.

In addition, our U.S. bishops continue to issue ever stronger statements and exhortations to their flocks.  Among the latest examples:

Bishop Robert Hermann, administrator of St. Louis, calls upon us to “Save the children!”  In the process, he poses some tough questions to people whom he outright calls, “So-called good Catholics.”  This is one bishop who calls a spade a spade!  And what Dominican wouldn’t applaud his exhortation to pray the Rosary?  :)

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph addressed the question, “Can a Catholic vote in favor of abortion?” by posing an even more important question:  “What is the effect on Catholics of a candidate who has been consistently supportive of abortion?” This is a very powerful and effective approach, and Bishop Finn’s response is so important and so clear, that I am going to share some excerpts (with my emphases):

When a candidate supports ready access to abortion on demand, they are inviting Catholics to put aside their conscience on this life and death issue. Such a candidate is inviting conscientious Catholics to look elsewhere for moral leadership.

When a candidate promotes total unhindered “choice,” he or she discourages the Catholic vote, and at the same time tempts the voter to betray one of the most obvious intuitions of our humanity and to support the continuation of the willful destruction of human life.

If the candidate has supported partial birth abortion, he or she asks the voter to affirm the continuation of an act that 75% of the population has rejected as repulsive.

When a candidate regards the unborn child as unworthy of the defense of law, then he or she asks us to join them in ignoring the lessons of history by which African Americans in this country were once regarded as non-persons; or the Jews of Europe were once marked for genocide or racial purification. Had we known, would we have supported the “choice” to enslave or destroy these brothers and sisters of ours? Can a candidate expect us as Catholics to ignore the classification of the unborn as non-persons? Will he or she expect us to look aside while these babies are quietly exterminated at a rate of 4000 per day? This is precisely what they are asking us to do.

A candidate who asks us to add our weight to such a destructive momentum in our society, asks us to be participants in their own gravely immoral act. This is something which, in good conscience, we can never justify. Despite hardship, beyond partisanship, for the sake of our eternal salvation: This we should never do.

You can’t get much clearer than that.

God bless all these writers.

I got this in my email this morning from FastForHope.com:

2008 ELECTION CONSECRATION PRAYER

“Ever-faithful God, we consecrate the 2008 U.S. presidential election and our entire nation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Loving Mother, Patroness and Protectress of the Americas.

We ask that You take our Nation into Your Loving Care, reach into the hearts of the electorate, and give them the strength and enlightenment to know your Will, and to exercise Your Will in their vote. Abba, Father, Thy Will Be Done!”

At the site, they have a pledge for prayer and fasting for the election.  I always find that signing pledges makes me a little more mindful and motivated.  I’m a woman of my word; it’s a matter of personal honor for me to follow through on any pledge I make!

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