The Church now moves out of the liturgical season of Christmas and into Ordinary time until we begin the season of Lent on February 17th. The season takes its name from “ordinal” (i.e., first, second, third …) rather than “ordinary” meaning common, and we certainly know that these coming weeks (and years) will be anything but ordinary.
There is so much happening that has me concerned as a citizen of this country, but even more so as a Catholic. Even amongst all the protests, unrest, and violence, the thing that perhaps concerns me most is that it seems people are not listening to each other or seeking to understand the other. Both sides of the political aisle are quick to ignore or dismiss the other side’s objections or concerns. There is very little (if any) real dialogue taking place.
The reason this is so concerning is that when large groups of people feel they are not being heard, it will almost always lead to people responding in such a way so that they “will no longer be ignored.” It often means more protests, unrest, and violence. Additionally, it becomes a very small step to go from intentionally dismissing the ideas and opinions of others, to actively silencing them. Unfortunately, we are already starting to see some movement in that direction now. Again, to be clear, both political parties and many individuals are guilty of this and the current evidence does not indicate any change in the near future.
As Catholics, this state of affairs should concern us greatly because we can recall in the history of the Church many times when rulers and governments sought to silence her when her teachings did not match the talking points of those in power. We do not even need to look very far away or that long ago to find numerous examples: from the Christeros War in Mexico about one century ago, to the current state of the Church in much of China; even this country has experienced much anti-Catholic bigotry in its history, and that sentiment is still alive in certain areas.
Dialogue will be essential to foster any real cooperation. And as we speak with each other, we must strive to understand each other. Only by coming to an understanding and appreciation of the other’s experiences and mindset can we begin to craft solutions which will meet the needs of all. Politics should not be an “us versus them” mentality, rather, it should be a system by which we can work together to foster the common good and prosperity of the people. And any system that would silence the people or deny the right to speak or the fundamental right to life, is already deeply flawed. No system will be perfect; there will always be flaws. We must seek to grow in virtue and unity as a people so that we can actually address the roots of those issues.
Continue to pray for our politicians and our country. Entrust yourself and this land into the hands of God. And ask for the grace and insight to understand each other and grow in unity. May peace reign in our times.
Fr. Timothy Gapinski