Pro-Life Candidates Win Big

The big surprise? They weren’t all Republicans.

So the big news is that the 2002 elections were a huge Republican victory. But the bigger news, as far as I’m concerned, is that those elections were a huge pro-life victory.

The stakes were high. We have, for the first time in a long time, a committed pro-life president. We have an elderly Supreme Court, with many pro-abortion justices hovering around retirement age. We’ve never had a better opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade. But there was one ingredient missing: control of the Senate. 

Powerful pro-abortion senators (including Catholic “friends” like Ted Kennedy) have always been committed to blocking any judicial nominee who respects the right to life for the unborn. As long as the overwhelmingly pro-abortion Democratic Party controlled the Senate, the president didn’t have a prayer of appointing a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court.

But apparently that’s not the case anymore, is it?

It’s funny, because it was the “other side” that made abortion an issue in this campaign. I travel a lot, which means I watch TV in hotels a lot, which means I had the opportunity to see campaign commercials in a lot of different states. And –because the same pro-abortion groups funded them –those ads all looked exactly the same. “Candidate Bad is an extremist who wants to take away a woman’s right to choose. But Candidate Good is a reasonable person who trusts the women of our state to make their own decisions.” (Question: Does Candidate Good also trust the women of that state to make their own decisions about how fast they should drive? Maybe, if women are so inherently trustworthy, we should just be exempted from all laws.) When asked if he would challenge those ads, one pro-life candidate said he saw no reason to. He believed that position would gain him votes.

And apparently he was right. The pro-abortion movement dumped huge amounts of money into these elections, and saw yet staggering losses. Emily’s List, a pro-abortion political group, lost 17 of the races they considered their “top 22,” while 8 of the top 10 most important Senate races in the country were won by pro-life candidates. And two thirds of the newly elected House members are pro-life. 

Interestingly, the evidence shows that many of these new pro-life Senators and congresspersons were elected because of their pro-life views. Fox News exit polls consistently showed that huge numbers of voters considered abortion a significant factor in their decisions. And those who considered abortion a significant factor voted overwhelmingly pro-life.

Were these people one-issue voters? Many probably were. But, when the issue is something as serious as abortion, how could we be anything else? No issue we face today is more important than the fact that we condone the cold-blooded murder of over a million of our own every year. Voting for a candidate who condones because we like some other policy he favors would be like voting for Mussolini because he made the trains run on time.

Yes, most of the victories were Republican. And yet, November 5th turned out to be a pretty good night for pro-life Democrats as well. These people make up a very small percentage of Democratic candidates, and it is widely recognized that a pro-life Democrat has no chance of ascending the ranks in his party. And yet, two pro-life Democrats won Tuesday night, with a third candidate going into a December run-off election.

The moral of the story? First of all, that NARAL and their ilk are badly out of step with the sensibilities of the nation. These people are very powerful, very well-funded and very loud. They really did give the impression that a pro-life position would be the kiss of death to any politician. But they were obviously very, very wrong. Thanks to them, no voter was unaware of their candidates’ position on abortion. And yet pro-lifers won overwhelming victories.

And second, we have seen the power we Christians still hold in this country, if we choose to exercise it. I saw churches mobilize in ways I’ve never seen before, urging their congregations to vote their Christian consciences. Here in the Archdiocese of Denver, a letter from the Archbishop and auxiliary bishop was read at every Mass the Sunday before the election, urging Catholics to vote pro-life. It made a difference.

Third and finally, we have seen the power of prayer. So much of the information I saw in the weeks before the election included urgent pleas to Christians to pray for the elections. I believe those prayers were heard. 

God cares about the future of this country. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "...God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?" We absolutely need to keep invoking His aid -- regularly and fervently.

God is not a Republican. He is not a Democrat.

But He is definitely pro-life.

An Honest Discussion on Prayer

I have a confession to make. For most of my life, I haven’t been a very good pray-er.

It’s not that I haven’t prayed. I have – regularly and at times quite fervently. It’s just that, overall, I haven’t been very good at it. I’m not one of those people who enters easily into deep contemplation. I’m told that I have a very “quick” mind. Not necessarily smart, but fast. I kneel down to pray and my brain is instantly running in eighty million different directions – none of them having anything to do with the prayerful task at hand. Slowing it down enough to meditate has always been very difficult for me. 

And – get this. For some reason, when I first learned the various gospel stories as a child, I pictured them all happening in various parts of the St. Bernadette’s Elementary School gym in Lakewood, Colorado. You wouldn’t think childish mental images like that would stick with a person, would you? Oh, no. They do. No matter how many times I watch Jesus of Nazareth, there is still some very primitive and stubborn part of my mind that knows that the Last Supper happened up on the front stage, that Christ was crucified in the northeast corner by the basketball hoops, and that He was buried by the back closet.

One can easily see how my brain could sabotage my spiritual life.

I share all of this bizarre and probably embarrassing information for one simple reason. Whatever struggles you may face in your prayer life, you should feel fully canonizable compared to a schlep like me.

But seriously, I don’t think we see enough discussion about the difficulties people face in prayer. We’re just told that we should pray, and we get the impression that those who are telling us to pray are the types who slip into contemplative ecstasy within moments of making the sign of the cross. I know that’s what I used to think.

I think it’s time to have an honest discussion about prayer.

First of all, why do we pray? Why should we pray? I think many of us carry over some childhood ideas about the obligation to “say our prayers” as just that – an obligation. It’s as if God puts a check in our “good” column every time we recite these certain formulas, and if we get enough checks, we can cash them in for Divine favors. (Kind of like the old S&H Green Stamps.)

Or – I’ve been guilty of this at times – we pray because we want something. We pray only when we want something. We go along our merry little way, only vaguely aware of God’s presence in our lives. And then a crisis hits, and we find ourselves in a situation over which we have no control. And so we desperately turn to God. If He would just fix this situation, we promise to change everything. We’ll start going to Mass every day. We’ll give half of our money to the poor. We’ll wear sackcloth and ashes for the rest of our lives.

Crisis averts, and we go back to business as usual.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize. Prayer is not some kind of “quid pro quo” arrangement that gets us goodies from God. Prayer is about relationship with God – about fostering and enriching that relationship with the One who created you.
I think many of us see God as the Guy who expects things from us – the Guy who judges us. But we miss the central point. God loves you, madly, wildly and passionately. He loves you. Not just in some vague “God loves everybody and I’m one of the everybodies” kind of way. You are unique and irreplaceable, and his love for you is equally unique and specific. He takes delight in you – in your gifts, your personality traits – the amazing way he made you.

Think about how any father loves his children. He loves them all, of course. And a good father loves them all equally. But he doesn’t love them all the same. Each child has different traits, different habits, different facial expressions that warm a father’s heart in different ways. He delights in being around each one of his children, in interacting with them. In the same way, God delights in interacting with you.

There are other reasons to pray, of course. My original plan was to discuss them, and to discuss how to pray – how to foster that intimate relationship with God. But I’ve already run over my allotted 750 words, so it looks like this is going to be (at least) a two-part series.

It’s probably just as well. For the next few weeks, just chew on this. God loves you. He loves you, personally and individually and uniquely. Sit with that. Think about it. Read the Scriptural passages that describe that love. Then, go sit (or kneel, or stand) with Him in the Blessed Sacrament a few times, and ask Him to help you experience that love.

Then we’ll talk some more.