Mov­ing for­ward with love

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Kathryn Lopez Colum­nist

Be­lieve it or not, this elec­tion sea­son may ac­tu­ally be on the brink of end­ing -- though that’s cer­tainly a some­what op­ti­mistic pre­dic­tion. Regardless, this is an elec­tion that de­mands some­thing dif­fer­ent go­ing for­ward. Most of us, it’s prob­a­bly fair to say, are vot­ing against rather than for some­one -- even vot­ing against two some­ones. So let’s do some­thing good for Amer­ica and think about get­ting bet­ter.

Dur­ing the fall in Washington, D.C., I led a few con­ver­sa­tions on virtue spon­sored by the Na­tional Review In­sti­tute, the Catholic In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter and the In­sti­tute for Pol­icy Re­search and Catholic Stud­ies at my alma mater, the Catholic Univer­sity of Amer­ica. An elec­tion dis­cus­sion just a week be­fore vot­ing day in­cluded coun­sel for vot­ers to move beyond them­selves. Hu­mil­ity be­came the take­away word.

In a book on the virtues, Fr. John Wick­ham writes about how the “joy­ful free­dom of Christian hu­mil­ity lib­er­ates us to do our very best in the lim­ited sit­u­a­tions of now and the months ahead.” Part of be­ing hum­ble in­cludes see­ing life -- all lives -- as a gift. It in­volves a self-for­get­ful­ness that puts oth­ers’ needs be­fore our own, a healthy counter to the hy­per-in­di­vid­u­al­ism that keeps us, among other things, with eyes locked to our phones.

In terms of the present mo­ment and the days ahead, that could mean call­ing a friend you may have vowed to “un­friend” or avoid be­cause of his or her stri­dent po­lit­i­cal opin­ions, apol­o­giz­ing and propos­ing an ac­tiv­ity that could raise spir­its or help peo­ple in your com­mu­nity or else­where.

The con­ver­sa­tion on ci­vil­ity and re­newal at Catholic Univer­sity a week be­fore Elec­tion Day hap­pened just yards away from where Pope Fran­cis cel­e­brated Mass last Septem­ber. At the time, Pope Fran­cis said, among other things, that peo­ple have be­come “anes­thetized.” As an an­ti­dote to this numb­ness, the pope cited the ex­am­ple of Fa­ther Ju­nipero Serra, the founder of the Cal­i­for­nia mis­sions who, he said, was the “em­bod­i­ment of a Church which goes forth, a Church which sets out to bring ev­ery­where the rec­on­cil­ing ten­der­ness of God.”

He also cited Serra’s motto: “Keep mov­ing for­ward!” Pope Fran­cis ex­plained: “For him, this was the way to con­tinue ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from grow­ing numb, from be­ing anes­thetized. He kept mov­ing for­ward, be­cause the Lord was wait­ing. He kept go­ing, be­cause his broth­ers and sis­ters were wait­ing. He kept go­ing for­ward to the end of his life. To­day, like him, may we be able to say: For­ward! Let’s keep mov­ing for­ward!”

Dur­ing that visit, the pope also vis­ited some women down the block, the Lit­tle Sis­ters of the Poor, who care for the poverty-stricken peo­ple on the mar­gins of society, peo­ple too of­ten dis­missed, avoided and for­got­ten.

It was a boost for a com­mu­nity of women who found them­selves hav­ing to go to the Supreme Court to fight the Oba­macare health in­sur­ance man­date, which the group, like many re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions, sees as a vi­o­la­tion of its prin­ci­ples. But per­haps what is most im­por­tant to know about the Lit­tle Sis­ters is their love. Fr. Wick­ham writes about this par­tic­u­lar virtue: “love be­tween hu­man per­sons any­where ... will call for for­give­ness and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

As the bur­den of this elec­tion nears an end, hu­mil­ity and love can help bridge dif­fer­ences, even cel­e­brate them. We could revel in our com­mon iden­tity as cre­ated be­ings called to joy­ful ser­vice. It’s a start at be­gin­ning again -- while avoid­ing a re­peat or worse of our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion. It’s a way to keep mov­ing for­ward.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is se­nior fel­low at the Na­tional Review In­sti­tute, ed­i­tor-at­large of Na­tional Review On­line and found­ing di­rec­tor of Catholic Voices USA. She can be con­tacted at klopez@na­tion­al­re­view.com.

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