By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Judgment Day is on its way and according to one courageous U.S. bishop, that day may very well be November 4, 2008.
“Judgment Day is on its way,” wrote Bishop Robert J. Hermann, Administrator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis in a hard-hitting letter to his flock that was published in the Oct. 17 issue of the diocesan newspaper, The St. Louis Review. “For many, this coming election may very well be judgment day, for this election will measure us.”
The Bishop warns Catholics that on their Judgment Day, they will be measured by God on the decisions they made in life. “The question I need to ask myself is this: ‘What kind of witness will I give to Him when I go into the voting booth this election day?’”
The decisions we make in the voting booth will reflect our true value system, he said. “If I value the good of the economy and my current lifestyle more than I do the right to life itself, then I am in trouble.”
He bemoaned the cultural desensitization that is affecting many Catholics. “The deepest problem with many of our Catholics is that they have become so accustomed to rationalizing away a life of sinful actions so that they seem to be on cruise control, heading in the wrong direction.”
He reminds the people of the exhortation in Christifideles laici by Pope John Paul II where the late pontiff tells us: “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.”
Therefore, Bishop Hermann writes, “The right of our children to be protected from destruction is greater than my right to a thriving economy. . . . My desire for a good economy cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion. My desire to end the war in Iraq cannot justify my voting to remove all current restrictions on abortion.”
He went on to tell the story of his own parents who married a year before the stock market crash of 1929 and raiseed 15 children in the midst of the Great Depression.
“They had no money. My mother made her own wedding gown and her own bouquet of flowers,” he wrote. “I have my parents’ wedding picture on the wall of my office, and I am reminded every day of the sacrifices they made for life.
”We had no money, but we had each other! My parents were at home with us for three meals every day. We had plenty to eat because we raised almost all of our food. We seldom got new clothes, but we wore hand-me-downs, unless my mother would buy materials and make our clothes. We lived in poverty, but we learned the value of hard work. We had no running water or electricity. We had no TV, Internet or cell phone. Yet, we were very happy because we had life! We had each other!”
To emphasize his point about what matters most in life, Bishop Hermann referred to the powerful steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919 who once said: “I was born in poverty … but I would not exchange the memories of my childhood with those of a millionaire’s children. What do they know of family joys, of the sweet figure of a mother who combines the duties of nurse, washerwoman, cook, teacher, angel and saint?”
None of us should make the mistake of exchanging respect for life for economic comfort on Election Day because this will be a decision many will surely regret when they stand before the Lord.
“Those 47 million children our nation destroyed are still living,” Bishop Hermann reminded. “We have destroyed their bodies, but their souls are still alive. When our Lord comes again, they may very well be there to judge us. Even worse, Jesus tells us that whatever we do to the least of our brethren, we do to Him. We would truly shudder if we heard the words, ‘I was in your mother’s womb but you took my life!’”
Bishop Hermann reiterated Catholic teaching that considers life to be the most basic issue and one that must be given priority over the issue of the economy, the issue of war or any other issue.
“These same teachings inform us that when both candidates permit the right to abortion, but unequally so, we must chose to mitigate the evil by choosing the candidate who is less permissive of abortion,” he wrote.
He urged everyone to pray for the candidates and for one another “so that you may not only make the right choice but also have the courage to discuss these issues with others who may have been misled by our materialistic culture.”
“Judgment Day is on its way!” he said. “I may deny it. I may pretend that it is still far away, I may deny that my actions are sinful, but that will not change God’s judgment of me.”
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In Voting with a Clear Conscience, Fr. Frank Pavone explains all the issues and how to let your conscience be your guide in the upcoming election. Available for only $2 in our store at http://womenofgrace.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=331