We each have benefitted from many legacies, gifts from people in our past. Throughout November, we remember and pray for those have gone before us in life — family and friends, important people in each of our lives. Each of them gave us their love and their concern as examples of how we can live; each of them, in very many and important ways, made us who we are. We ask God to bless them and make them happy, even though we miss them and wish they were still part of our lives today.
Most of us are also beneficiaries of a legacy which includes the privilege to vote and to make our opinions, political and otherwise, known. Perhaps members of our own families made hard choices to guarantee that each of us could have the right and the option we can exercise today. Perhaps members of our own families had to make a difficult decision to leave the land and family of their birth to pursue a larger dream, a better life with more opportunities, more choices and greater freedom. Others in our families may have chosen to defend the freedom they were given by putting themselves in danger; for some, this meant giving their lives.
We all have been given a heritage, we all benefit from gifts, from an inheritance greater than any gift of money or gold.
In this month of November when we traditionally pray for those people who have given so much to us, we need to include the benefit, the legacy and the gift of political freedom. It seems fitting that today, Election Day 2012, we thank God for those who have sacrificed some, a lot or everything for the blessings we enjoy today. It also seems fitting that we ask God for the peace and happiness of those who have given us not only their love and care, but also who made difficult choices — not just for their own good in their own time, but so we might have the freedom of choice we can exercise now, in our time, for the good of us all.
Perhaps our first gift-giver, our real benefactor at Saint Louis University, is St. Ignatius. A primary theme in his Spiritual Exercises is freedom — particularly the personal freedom to know the true meaning of life, and how much God unconditionally loves each of us — a freedom which allows each person to choose ways of living leading to true happiness, by remembering God and the service of others in all we do.
Ignatius was very much a person of his time. In his 16th century world there were no democracies, no elections for public officials, no endless campaigns; in fact, all of these might really confuse him. But, he would also probably soon learn about all of this and remind us that God is in this political system, as well, and part of our legacy. It's not about how he would vote, but that he would vote, as an informed citizen, finding God in all things.
On this Election Day 2012, let us each thank God for the legacy of freedom that is ours — and let us never take it for granted. Let us make sure we make all efforts possible to exercise the privilege to vote given us by our family members, by all who have lived before us. Let us make our prayers actions by choosing to take a little time, to make a little effort, to use what we have been given. Let us understand freedom as a personal privilege and a collective responsibility to make our lives, our world, better.
Then in the next few days, let us use freedom, the real gift of Ignatius, by searching for the will of God reflected in today's election results. Let us not just try to find God in the decisions we agree with, but also in the ones which may be harder for us to accept. Let us honestly — and as freely as we can — search for ways to support the direction that today will give us, our nation, and our community. Let us not only pray for this, but let our prayers become actions which strive to make them real.
VOTE AND PRAY — OUR LEGACIES
A. M. D. G.
D. Highberger, S.J.
P. Stark, S.J.