The Civic Duty of Catholics toward the Common Good
By Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
Bond of divine charity
Our civic responsibility to protect the common good is informed, first and foremost, by our life in Christ. We come to life in Christ through Baptism. From the moment of our baptism, the Holy Spirit begins to dwell within our soul. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we truly live each day in Christ. Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, God strengthens and increases the life of the Holy Spirit within us, in order that we may carry out more faithfully Christ’s mission in the world, the mission of divine charity, of love of neighbor without boundaries. Through the Sacrament of Penance, God the Father receives the confession of our sins and forgives us, giving us grace to live more faithfully in Christ. Most wonderfully of all, God heals and strengthens us for the challenges of our daily life in Christ, our daily carrying out of Christ’s mission, through our participation in the Holy Eucharist, in which He gives us the Heavenly Medicine and Food which is the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, His Incarnate Son.
Christ’s life within us unites us in the bond of divine charity with all who have been sanctified by His grace, and directs us to love every human being as He has loved us (John 13:34-35; and 15:12-17). We best understand this truth through our participation in the Holy Eucharist and our worship of the Blessed Sacrament reserved for our spiritual benefit after the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
Christ poured out His life on Calvary and never ceases to pour out His life for all, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. He is the Good Samaritan. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the Divine Judge who, at the Final Judgment, will pronounce this judgment upon us: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). One with Him, most perfectly in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we are also one with Him in His care for the world, especially for our brothers and sisters who depend upon us, who are in need.
The teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council expresses eloquently Christ’s care for the world, His solidarity with all people of every time and place, and our real participation in that care and solidarity: “The joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men, of men who, united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, press onwards towards the kingdom of the Father and are bearers of a message of salvation intended for all men. That is why Christians cherish a feeling of deep solidarity with the human race and its history” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” Gaudium et spes, Dec. 7, 1965, No. 1). As followers of Christ, it is our joyful obligation to make of ourselves, by God’s grace, instruments of divine charity, of God’s love for all men and women, without boundaries.
Excerpts from Pastoral Letter “On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good”, 1 October, 2004.
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Lord God, as the election approaches, I seek to better understand the issues and concerns that confront my city, my state and my country, and how the Gospel compels me to respond as a faithful Catholic and a citizen of Heaven and Earth.
I ask for eyes that are free from blindness and a mind that is free from darkness. Please grant me the grace to love You more and to love my neighbor as myself. Make me truly a Christian without Borders so that I may cherish every teaching of the Catholic Faith and love each and every one of my brothers and sisters, especially those in most need.
Give me the strength to choose Your will above all things and to stand for what is right! I pray for the courage to defend the innocent, protect the helpless, and oppose abuse and deceit.
I ask for ears that will hear the cries of the millions of unborn children massacred through abortion. I ask for the grace not to be deceived by the voices of evil, error and darkness. I ask that my mind and heart may be open to the Truth; I ask for greater Faith and the strength and valor to defend the family and true marriage.
My dear Jesus, grant me discernment so that I may choose leaders who hear Your Word, live Your love, and walk in the ways of Your truth. Shed Your light and mercy upon us, and guide us to Your Heavenly Kingdom. Amen
At this crucial moment in the history of our beloved country, let us turn to Our Blessed Mother and pray:
O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care.
Most Holy Mother, we beg You to reclaim this land for the glory of Your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to You from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in Your motherly protection.
Under Your title of the Immaculate Conception, You are the Patroness of the United States. Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of Your people. Open our minds to the immense value of souls and renew in us a profound respect for the sanctity of life. Bring an end to the merciless and senseless killing of the innocent and the defenseless. Please grant us the grace to understand the serious responsibilities that accompany human freedom.
May our voting in this election promote respect for all human life, safeguard the sanctity of marriage and the family, and foster the good of all.
Through Your intercession, may God bless our homes and our nation! Amen.