Why did we have such a long presidential election last year? Of the many explanations, let me offer one perspective for your consideration.
As I traveled the nation speaking of the moral responsibility we have to elect pro-life candidates, I heard statements like, "I have never prayed so hard for anything in my life!" and "I had forgotten what fasting was, but now I'm fasting a few times a week, and so is my entire pro-life group!" This was happening everywhere. People were making special sacrifices, reading Scripture more frequently, and gathering in Churches beyond the normal call of duty.
Christians knew that more was at stake than the next four or eight years. Rather, for the cause of life and other Christian values, the election would influence the course of history for the next 40 years, primarily because of the appointment of federal judges.
The closer we came to the election, the less certain anyone was about what the outcome would be. All the experts could say was that the race was even. So the prayers and sacrifices intensified!
As election day came, there was a veritable crescendo of prayer, penance, and worship. I think God looked down at all of this and said, "You know what? I like this!!" So He reached down from heaven and pressed a big pause button!
If you browse pro-abortion websites these days, you'll see how concerned they are about making progress in the elections of 2002 and 2004. They are raising tens of millions of dollars to make sure they get more pro-abortion senators and representatives in place, and eventually, another pro-abortion president.
Whether they succeed, however, does not depend on them as much as it depends on us.
It depends, first of all, on how early we start. We are already beyond the point at which we need to start talking about the upcoming elections in our pro-life meetings, in our newsletters, on our websites, in our classrooms and pulpits, and at our conventions. By starting to think and talk about strategy now, we have enough time to turn our good ideas into reality.
It depends, too, on how much courage we have. Speaking out about politics and abortion is a stumbling block for some, and apparently precisely because they are religious. Yet our bishops have made it clear, particularly in their 1998 document Living the Gospel of Life, that to be silent on these matters is to be silent about the Gospel. Our religion is not meant to turn us in on ourselves, as a matter only for attention within the walls of our Churches or the privacy of our homes. Our religion is meant to be a leaven that transforms society, a light set on a hilltop, a challenge to cultures and governments.
So, we need courage. We can say about courage what one saint has said about humility. When you feel you don't have it, do what you would do if you did have it!