The most discouraging and disappointing election cycle in my lifetime winds to a close tomorrow. Election Day could not come soon enough. The two presidential candidates have engaged in the most negative and demeaning campaign ever witnessed in America, and it is a testimony to the strength of our democracy that despite ample reasons not to, legions of Americans will go to the polls and exercise their right to vote. Hopefully our country’s stockpile of nausea medicine will hold up!The stakes are as high as the candidates’ campaigns have been low. And for Catholics, the pre-eminent issue of the sanctity of life, from conception to natural death, maintains its privileged place in the hierarchy of issues that are before us. Ave Maria University follows the examples of Saints John Paul the Great and Teresa of Calcutta and promotes a political philosophy that is pro-life and pro-poor. The two are inseparable. They rest in the heart of Gospel truth.
Last night AMU’s Students for Life Club gathered to raise funds and awareness in support of Ave Maria University’s commitment to the sanctity of life. Our University sends hundreds of students to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., and last night’s fundraising event helps students with the costs of attending, as well as supports their local efforts in advocating for the right to life. One of our students, Katie Trudeau, touched the hearts of attendees by sharing her own story of being adopted. She also spoke of her gratitude to both her birth mother and adoptive parents and how her Catholic faith inspires her life (and soccer! I’ve seen her play and she is fearless!). Katie is an Ave treasure and will graduate and go and shake the world because she knows how sacred and fragile life is, and the Divine Imprint it constitutes.
Students Nora Anderson, Katie Trudeau, Claire Argenta, and Corinne Zay
AMU students walk past the U.S. Capitol Building the evening before the March for Life in 2016.
As Mother Teresa taught us, the Right to Life movement is about the evil of abortion and more. During her lifetime she opened homes all over the world for unwed mothers to support them in their decision to choose life, as well as orphanages for adoption. She instructed her Sisters on how to teach natural family planning in the rural villages of India to help the poor manage their family sizes without resort to illicit means. She was the first in the U.S. to welcome the unwanted dying AIDS patients and shepherd them as they went home to God. She has centers for the aged, developmentally disabled, mentally ill, and homeless in over 120 countries. She challenges us to go and live our calling to be on the side of life – born and unborn – and to vote that way.
There are many national and local races on U.S. ballots across our land, and some touch more directly on these critical issues than others. I will be watching the election results at home tomorrow and will be closely monitoring the U.S. Senate races across America, and of course, the presidential one.
For those who might be prone to discouragement in light of all of the divisions within our country, or grappling with questions on how America found itself with such unpalatable choices at the ballot box, I leave you with this passage from the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes of the Second Vatican Council:
“In truth, the imbalances existing in the modern world are linked to a more profound imbalance found in the heart of man. Many elements conflict with each other in man’s inner struggle. As a created being, he experiences his limitations in thousands of ways yet he also perceives himself to be boundless in his aspirations and destined to a higher life. Enticed by many options, he is continually forced to choose some and to renounce others. Furthermore, since he is weak and sinful, he often does what he detests and not what he desires. This causes him to suffer an inner division, which is the source of so many and such grievous disagreements in society….With all of this, however, in face of the modern world’s development, there is an ever-increasing number of people who ask themselves or who feel more keenly the most essential questions: What is man? What is the meaning of suffering, of evil, of death, which persist despite all progress? What are these victories, purchased at so high a cost, really worth? What can man offer to society and what can he expect from it? What will there be after this life? The Church believes that Christ, who died and was resurrected for the sake of all, continuously gives to man through His Spirit the light and the strength to respond to his higher destiny. Nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved. The Church also believes that the key, the center, and the purpose of all of human history, is found in its Lord and Master”
Ave Maria University, through its faithful faculty and campus culture, is helping young men and women find answers to these essential questions. They are being equipped to go out and change the hearts and minds of those mired in “grievous disagreements in society.” Our hope is not in government, but in our Lord and Master.