Justice in Elections. That elections in every nation may be carried out with justice, transparency, and honesty, respecting the free decisions of citizens.
Pope Benedict XVI has said that “fidelity to democracy alone can guarantee equality and rights to everyone” (Speech to the Italian Christian Workers’ Associations, 2006). Yet democracy is at risk in our time. “In a world without truth,” said the Pope, “freedom loses its foundation, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul” (Address of Benedict XVI, South Lawn of the White House, April 2008).
The Holy Father asks us to pray this month for elections throughout the world. We are praying with the universal Church and Apostles of Prayer everywhere that votes may be cast freely, tallied honestly, and honored in their result.
Free and fair elections serve the common good, but only if citizens inform themselves and vote. The Pope asks us to participate in our democratic process first by seeking truth through reason and Christian values. Then we must bravely speak the truth, always respecting the freedom of others.
“Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized,” the Pope said in his White House address, “when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.”
As citizens, then, what specifically can we do to help our democracy flourish? The Pope makes it clear: “The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good, and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate.”
As we pray for free and fair elections through-out the world, let us also pray for voters, including ourselves, that we may seek the common good.
As you prepare for the next election, how can you “cultivate virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good, and a sense of responsibility toward the less fortunate”? How can you courageously bring your “deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate”?
Proverbs 14:34 — Virtue exalts a nation, but sin is a people’s disgrace.
Urban Culture. That Christians may strive to promote everywhere, but especially in our cities, education, justice, solidarity, and peace.
For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. All over the world, people are leaving rural areas and moving to cities. Why? They hope to find a better life — and often they do. Dense population offers opportunities for employment, education, advancement, and community. Cities can be catalysts for collective action and social accountability. And, from the Christian point of view, cities have served the evangelization of peoples since the first days of the Church.
Opportunities abound in the city, but this month’s mission intention implies that cities also face special challenges. We think immediately of poverty, violence, crowding, segregation, and pollution. The Holy Father asks us to pray for ourselves and for other Christians that we may strive to overcome these challenges by promoting education, justice, solidarity, and peace, especially in cities. To do so is part and parcel of our obedience to Jesus Christ’s commandment to spread the Kingdom of God.
To promote education is to advocate the formation of the whole person through attentive parenting, moral teaching, formal schooling, and job training.
To promote justice is to seek fair play and equality, respecting every person’s God-given dignity and rights.
To promote solidarity is to affirm that we are members of communities, social beings who find fulfillment in relationship to others. God did not create us to be selfish individualists, always and only seeking our own good. Each one of us must decide to value solidarity.
Peace in our cities — indeed, peace in our world — will come with education, justice, and solidarity. As we promote those values, others will adopt them too, until even institutions and systems will change for the better.
The last book of the Bible depicts a heavenly city, a place of everlasting peace and joy. That holy city of God is the ideal toward which we Christians strive. In the meantime in this world, we pray and work for good things for all people, especially those in our cities.
In your own community, what one thing can you do to promote education, justice, solidarity, or peace?
Revelation 21:23 — The city had no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.
Prayer of the Month
Lord and Ruler of all, we pray for the elections that will be held throughout the world this year. May governments recognize the right of their people to choose their leaders in fair and free elections. May all people find and courageously hold to values that lead them to vote for honest candidates who seek the common good rather than appeal to selfish interests.