Hope, change and as­pi­ra­tion

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

“Do not let tri­als and pains over­whelm you.”

Pope Fran­cis said this dur­ing Mass in Mex­ico City on the night of last Feb. 13, while at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mo­ments af­ter Mass ended, news broke that Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia had died. I was stunned, as was Amer­ica.

My friend Bill McGurn at The Wall Street Jour­nal called this the Jus­tice Scalia elec­tion. It’s an apt name, in more ways than one. I read his col­umn as I lis­tened to church ladies in Florida tell me they had to vote for Don­ald Trump, de­spite their mis­giv­ings be­cause “Supreme Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court.” The Supreme Court was the place that seemed to make bad laws, af­firm un­con­sti­tu­tional laws, and keep good laws from re­main­ing if in­ter­est groups were per­sis­tent and strate­gic enough. And that wasn’t quite the way the Con­sti­tu­tion sounded in school or “School­house Rock.”

When Pope Fran­cis was in Mex­ico last Fe­bru­ary, he preached on the Gospel of the day, the Visi­ta­tion. A preg­nant Mary went out to meet her cousin El­iz­a­beth, and “She set out with­out de­lay, with­out doubts, with­out less­en­ing her pace, to be with her rel­a­tive who was in the last months of her preg­nancy.” Mary’s world was some­what up­ended when pre­sented with the news that she had been called to be the mother of God. It was the end of the world as she knew it, you could say. But she had peace­ful­ness, con­fi­dence and a love that could not be shaken. She went on, she moved for­ward, she knew who she was in the eyes of her Cre­ator.

Look­ing around at the re­ac­tions to the re­sults of the elec­tion, it’s hard to shake the idea that there was a mes­sage to take from the con­ver­gence of events on Fe­bru­ary 13.

“Hope” was men­tioned six times in his homily dur­ing Mass. What did the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump -- and the de­feat of Hillary Clin­ton -- mean for hope and change, the mantra of Barack Obama?

I was think­ing about this on the way to Fri­day Mass at St. Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral three days af­ter the elec­tion, pass­ing the se­cu­rity all around Trump Tower on Fifth Av­enue, notic­ing that most of the peo­ple who put Trump over the top -- those dif­fer­ence-mak­ers in states like Penn­syl­va­nia and Wis­con­sin -prob­a­bly couldn’t af­ford to shop in many of the stores I was pass­ing.

The peo­ple who put their mis­giv­ings about Trump aside voted for him be­cause they’ve had it with pol­i­tics, they’ve had it with busi­ness as usual. For most of the peo­ple I know and have talked to over the past year-plus who sup­ported Trump, ‘Make Amer­ica Great Again’ is about a cul­ture of dreams and the hope of them be­ing achieved. They re­ject hope as a po­lit­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion. Trump is a bigly gam­ble, but he’s not more of the same ide­o­log­i­cal and bu­reau­cratic stran­gle­hold.

In Guadalupe, Pope Fran­cis said “there are so many sit­u­a­tions which leave us pow­er­less, which make us feel that there is no room for hope, for change, for trans­for­ma­tion.” He en­cour­aged his lis­ten­ers, say­ing: “We can build shrines by shar­ing the joy of know­ing that we are not alone.”

Is there any doubt, lis­ten­ing to some of the “cry-ins” on univer­sity cam­puses and grief and griev­ances on the streets, that the Beat­i­tudes are needed? Could this mess of an elec­tion make for a more or­dered view of pol­i­tics? Where we’re not look­ing for it to give us hope, but to the peo­ple who serve out of reli­gious ideals and com­mit­ment, peo­ple who help make hope real and change less over­whelm­ing.

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