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During the months and weeks preceding election day (usually the first Tuesday in November), eucharistic liturgies and prayers associated with other parish activities provide opportunities to reflect on our responsibilities as "faithful citizens." The Sunday just before the election is a particularly appropriate time to include a reflection in the Mass and the homily insofar as it can be related to the Scripture readings of the day.
However, if parishioners are to make informed decisions, they will need to think about how the values of their faith can inform their decisions as voters well before election day. In fact, as part of our call to active participation, it is important to integrate Faithful Citizenship's message about bringing our faith to the public arena into prayers and liturgies throughout the year.
Below are suggestions you may wish to consider in preparing eucharistic liturgies and other prayers around the theme of civic responsibility. This theme, when appropriate, may be emphasized at the following points in the Mass:
The following prayers focus on civic duty and the well-being of our city, state, and nation as well as our leaders. They may be used for weekday Masses, when permitted by the liturgical calendar. Some of these prayers may be adapted for use outside of Mass. When allowed by the rubrics, these prayers may be used with one of the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses for Various Needs and Occasions.
The following intercessions may be used periodically throughout the year.
These songs are available in Worship Third Edition, RitualSong, Gather, Peoples' Mass Book, We Celebrate, JourneySongs, the OCP Music Issue, Glory and Praise, and Lead Me Guide Me: The African American Catholic Hymnal.*
"Go Make a Difference" (Steve Angrisano)
"City of God" (Dan Schutte)
"Free at Last" (African American Spiritual)
"Oh, Freedom" (African American Spiritual)
"God of Our Fathers" (Daniel C. Roberts)
"The Harvest of Justice" (David Haas)
"He Has Anointed Me" (Mike Balhoff)
"Here I Am, Lord" (Dan Schutte)
"Jesus Still Lives" (Suzanne Toolan)
"Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" (James W. Johnson)
"Send Me, Jesus" (Thuma Mina) (South African)
"We Are Called" (David Haas)
"Who Will Speak" (Marty Haugen)
Lead Me, Guide Me
Glory and Praise
Peoples' Mass Book
The following announcements can be made at the end of Mass or placed in the bulletin. (See also the Faithful Citizenship bulletin announcements.) They may be used periodically throughout the year to help parishioners prepare for the election season.
The bishops of the United States have issued a statement on the importance of bringing the values of our faith to the decisions made in our public life. In their statement, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the bishops call for "a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable" (no. 14). As you prepare for the upcoming election, please consider how the values of your faith can help you make your decisions. For information on Faithful Citizenship, visit www.faithfulcitizenship.org.
The upcoming election offers Catholics a valuable chance to consider how the messages of the Scriptures and the insights of Catholic teaching can be applied to the priority issues of our society. The U.S. Catholic bishops have urged us to recognize the moral and ethical dimensions of the issues and to "to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self interest" (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 33). We strongly urge all parishioners to become informed on key issues and to vote. If you would like information about Catholic teaching on our civic responsibilities, please visit www.faithfulcitizenship.org.
"In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation," according to the U.S. Catholic bishops (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, No. 13). We urge all eligible parishioners to participate in the election next Tuesday. The insights of the Scriptures and Catholic social teaching are important guides for our decisions about issues and candidates. We urge you to become informed about the issues and how Catholic teaching guides us, and to examine the positions of candidates in light of Catholic teaching. If you would like information about Catholic teaching on our civic responsibilities, please visit www.faithfulcitizenship.org.
Gracious and loving God, let your Spirit be with us (me) today. Hear our (my) prayers, and increase in us (me) the will to follow your Son Jesus. Help us (me) to draw on the resources of our (my) faith as we (I) use the opportunities of our democracy to shape a society more respectful of the life, dignity, and rights of the human person, especially the poor and vulnerable. We (I) ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
An authentic faith . . . always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it. We love this magnificent planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, it hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters. If indeed "the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics," the Church, "cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice." – Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 183
The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity. So they cannot relinquish their participation "in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good." The mission of the lay faithful is therefore to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility. Even if the specific expressions of ecclesial charity can never be confused with the activity of the State, it still remains true that charity must animate the entire lives of the lay faithful and therefore also their political activity, lived as "social charity". -- Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, no. 29
For the Christian people of America conversion to the Gospel means to revise "all the different areas and aspects of life, especially those related to the social order and the pursuit of the common good." It will be especially necessary "to nurture the growing awareness in society of the dignity of every person and, therefore, to promote in the community a sense of the duty to participate in political life in harmony with the Gospel." -- Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, no. 27
It must be noted also that a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals. The Christian faith is an integral unity, and thus it is incoherent to isolate some particular element to the detriment of the whole of Catholic doctrine. A political commitment to a single isolated aspect of the Church's social doctrine does not exhaust one's responsibility towards the common good. -- Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life, no. 4.
In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. "People in every nation enhance the social dimension of their lives by acting as committed and responsible citizens" (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 220). The obligation to participate in political life is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "it is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person. . . . As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life" (nos. 1913-1915). -- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship, no. 13
This statement represents our guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy. We urge our pastors, lay and religious faithful, and all people of good will to use this statement to help form their consciences; to teach those entrusted to their care; to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue; and to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching. -- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship, Introduction
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