Following is the first in a six-part series by Arlington
Bishop Paul S. Loverde on forming our consciences as
Catholics prior to the November presidential election.
No doubt, each time we watch the nightly news, many of us
become dismayed when we see the segment on politics. Like so
many of our fellow Americans, these days I find myself at a
loss to describe my thoughts, and yes, even my feelings, as
the 2016 presidential election draws near. Why? Because
politics, which is meant to be the search for the common
good, is being reduced to negative ads and name-calling.
As you know, I have dedicated so much of my ministry as a
priest and bishop to defending the right to life, the true
and authentic nature of marriage, and the dignity of every
human person who is created in the image and likeness of God.
Today, I see clear examples of where candidates' positions
are contrary to our Church's teaching and to fundamental
truths we know by human reason. In these recent weeks, I can
also see where candidates' character and temperament seem to
be troubling when we consider the enormous responsibility
entrusted to the President of the United States.
Over the course of the coming weeks, I will offer a series of
six reflections that I pray will assist you as you join me in
the effort to form our consciences as we prepare for our
participation in the presidential election of 2016.
Forming our consciences will require prayer, reflection on
the teachings of our Church, the application of principles to
the issues of our day and the positions taken by candidates
for public office
and yes, more prayer!
As a first step in the effort to form our consciences, I
propose the practice of prayer and fasting.
A regular and habitual "discipline" of prayer opens our minds
and disposes our hearts to hear the Word the Lord speaks to
us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Fasting - from food or drink, from different forms of
entertainment, and even voluntarily "disconnecting" for a
time from our various electronic devices - also purifies our
minds and hearts so that we may be open to the Truth who, we
pray, will speak to us in this time of discernment.
In future columns, I will present the principles of the
Church's teaching and the natural law, which form the basis
for making the decisions of conscience that ultimately lead
to casting a vote in an election.
But now as we begin the journey of discernment, I invite you
to join me in taking the first step in forming our
consciences: let us make or renew a specific daily and weekly
commitment to some form of prayer and fasting g, asking the
Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and move our hearts - and
those of our fellow citizens - so that we might choose
leaders who will best serve our nation, and specifically, in
the words of Pope Francis to the U.S. Congress, "protect and
defend human life at every stage of its development."