Before You Enter the Voting Booth

Psychologists tell us that many are suffering from anxieties raised by the tenor of this year’s presidential election. Whether you feel like you are drowning in a sea of confusing emotions, or infuriated by media soundbites, political views of friends, or the qualifications of candidates, here is a poem and an exercise for you.

p1050067Step One: For those who are overwhelmed by a sea of emotions:

Lord Jesus,

we are drowning in the storm

of this election season.

We are being plunged

Under the turbulent waves

of the turbid lives of our candidates.

Each day a new tsunami

of recrimination and accusation slams us

and we are drowning.

Send your Holy Spirit to us,

wash over us,

purify us,

renew our hearts

so that we sink no more

beneath the betrayal and corruption

of our own faults and those of others.

Help us arise and walk across the flood

into your loving arms. Amen.


img_8888Step TWO: For those who feel angry or attacked:

Remember, clear-headed thinking about important decisions, like voting, requires peace of mind and a willingness to forgive others who seem to block God’s mercy in your heart. So take a closer look at your reactions.

A.  Imagine someone whose action makes your blood boil, so that you feel like reacting in a very physical way. Now think of yourself as reaching for an imaginary tool that you might use as a weapon. What would it be?

  • Saw (to cut off the relationship)
  • Hammer (to insist on what you want)
  • Pliers (to hang on for dear life)
  • Screwdriver (to pin down the other person)
  • Another tool…

B.  What would it be like for you to respond with this imaginary way? How would you feel? What would happen next?

C.  Lift up your imaginary tool or get a real one and lift it up to God as you pray: “Lord Jesus, I have wanted to harm others with this ______. I am sorry, and I ask your forgiveness. I trust in the Father’s mercy for me, for those I feel offended by and for our country. I promise to seek forgiveness and peace in whatever ways you lead me. Amen.”

Excerpted and adapted from Mending Broken Relationships: Building StrongOnes by John and Therese Boucher

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Lessons I Learned from World Youth Day by Allan F. Wright

dscf3436Before World Youth Day:
The people at the International Center for Evangelization in Krakow, Poland, offered training for those interested in evangelization during the week before World Youth Day in July 2016, hoping to draw off the crowd of 3,000,000 pilgrims who would attend. And so they did! Over 1,500 young evangelizers came from 30 different countries came to this training. Songs of praise would be sung each morning and then a different Cardinal or Bishop would preside at a lively liturgy. The music ministry was composed of 50 young adults and the strings, horns and choir focused everyone on Christ the way good music can. A tent for Eucharistic adoration was also set up and free time for building relationships.

On the third day the formal evangelization training program began. Each evening the “kerygma” (basic message of the Gospel) would be presented and a different speaker from around the world would share their personal testimony to conversion to Christ. Then there would be a teaching on one aspect of the Creed. My responsibility was to explore the line of the creed that states; “I believe in Jesus Christ.” My focus was on the verb “to believe” which is not only an intellectual ascent to a belief but an active living out of a relationship with a person, namely Jesus and what that entails in our everyday lives. In regards to evangelization, while there is no perfect program, there is the perfect person… JESUS.

Mini-witness sites: After morning Mass the 1,500 would divide up to predetermined places in the city and share their witness stories with people they met, ask if anyone desired prayer, or begin a conversation about Jesus. There were five stages set up in the city at various locations in which mini-concerts were held and then people like myself, would share our testimony of God’s love for me through Jesus. As the number of pilgrims to WYD arrived, more and more people heard the good news proclaimed through music, prayer and personal testimony.

Lessons: Our assumption was that people coming to a religious event or even a Sunday service have not necessarily heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. This was re-enforced. Here are some additional things I learned from this experience:

  1. When planning a large evangelizing event, we need to train volunteers beforehand in how-to evangelize event participants (i.e. practical skills), in both person to person and communal ways.
  2. We need to combine proclamation of the Gospel message with people’s personal stories of how they have met Jesus Christ in a personal way.
  3. Never let an opportunity get away when I can share Christ in everyday life.


Allan F. Wright is Academic Dean for Evangelization, Diocese of Paterson, NJ, at St. Paul Inside the Walls, Madison, NJ. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall University and the author of many books including, Jesus the Evangelist: A Gospel Guide to the New Evangelization (Franciscan Media).

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How to Connect With a Saint

DSCF6790When John was a teenager he wanted to go to dances. There was one problem.  He couldn’t dance.  So he asked his older sister, Claire, to teach him. That was a disaster. Next he watched people dancing and slowly imitated one step after another. The church also watches a person’s whole life for steps in the dance of faith.  This discernment process helps us find models of heroic virtue and holiness, like St. Teresa of Calcutta or St Therese of Lisieux. These saints become portraits of discipleship. And if we befriend a few, they can become mentors, who help us grow spiritually.

SPEAK WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY: The road to holiness is also traveled by all who die in Christ, the great cloud of saints described in the Book of Revelation (7:9-17). In addition to canonized saints, there are people who lived ordinary lives with extraordinary love, like Juan Correa, a friend, who studied chemistry in order to teach in his homeland of Colombia. He had unusual gifts of kindness and humility that brought many into our faith-sharing group. As graduation approached, he confessed strong fears about the political dangers that Christians faced in Bogota.  Still, his love for his people drew him home like a magnet.  Just two years later Juan contracted polio.  As he lay paralyzed and dying in an iron lung, his one wish was to listen to Scripture all day.  Within weeks of his death, two of his sisters who were experiencing high-risk pregnancies were healed.

HIGHWAY SIGNS TO GOD: But what help can saints be to you? Below are five steps for discovering your own answers. First, search out saints who can inspire you to draw closer to God.  St. Therese of Lisieux (France, 1873-1897), strove to be a child before God and wrote, “I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth.”  And so she has.  Claire and Harry asked her daily intercession during World War II.  They promised God that if Harry returned safely from fighting in the Pacific, they would name their first daughter Therese.  And so they did. Second, choose a saint who points toward love of others, like St. Teresa of Calcutta who talked about spending heaven rescuing people from dark places.  Teresa can help you become more aware of the dark places that your family and friends inhabit. Then with God’s strength, you can learn how to be a physical and spiritual first responder. Third, learn ways to share the underpinnings of holy service through watching the way a saint explicitly shared about Jesus. Tiny St. Francis Cabrini, a cardiac disease sufferer, donned a hard hat to descend into coal mines and talk about Jesus. (Her shoes are pictured above.)

friends with sts SMBUILD FRIENDSHIPS WITH SAINTS. Fourth, one of the dangers of living in a fast-paced world is the temptation to ignore the saints. But the effort to search out a few as friends is well worth it, since they can be like older brothers and sisters, or co-workers in faith. Begin by reading short bios online at websites like Catholic Online or this brief listing. Here you can acquaint yourself with “your spiritual neighborhood” and choose one or two to learn about in-depth. You might also want to read, “Making Friends with the Saints.”

Our fifth and finally suggestion is to speak with your new friend often about the place where your lives intersect. For example: St. Teresa of Calcutta was once asked by a reporter what is wrong with the church. Her reply was, “Me and you!” So a regular church-goer might pray, “St. Teresa, I have done my best to pray and to serve others. How can I be the problem? Help me listen to God in new ways. Help me be more compassionate. Help me be a humble servant in my parish and in every-day life. Amen.” And then finish by speaking with Jesus, the love of your saintly friend’s life.

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