This election cycle has been extremely rough. Having only lived through a handful of presidential elections, I cannot attest to those that occurred before my time, but this election? It seems uglier, darker, and more contentious than in years past.
Personally, I have been keeping up with politics just enough to know that I am extremely frustrated and saddened by the whole mess.
In all my years of voting, I have never once cried about it. I am extraordinarily grateful to live in a country and a time in history where I am allowed – and encouraged – to vote. But I admit I cried when I took up my mail-in ballot earlier this month. I cried for our nation. I cried for my children. I cried because I am just so exhausted by the moral wasteland that is current American politics.
Once I stopped crying, I ate two cookies, even though I wanted to eat 10 cookies, because old habits (emotional eating) die hard.
With sugar from the chocolate chip cookies still surging through my veins, I wiped the tears from my eyes and the crumbs from my mouth and I decided to do the only genuinely constructive thing I felt I could do: I decided to pray.
Recently, our local Catholic radio station ran a small audio clip from EWTN Foundress and truth-telling rock star Mother Angelica. Her words couldn’t have been more timely had she recorded them several days rather than several years ago. The gist of her message was this: when people turn away from God, they get the kinds of leaders they deserve; they end up having to choose between a leader who is bad, and another who is presumably slightly less bad than the other. The only thing we, as people of faith, should and can do, according to Mother Angelica, is pray.
Lest we forget, prayer has the power to change things. The Bible is chock full of people calling upon the LORD to help, heal, and save them. God, in His mercy, is able to make all things new, even if we ourselves are not.
But – how would I pray? There were so many things I wanted to say to God – to beg of Him, to cry out, to request.
The Catholic Conspiracy decided to close up shop the day before Election Day as a form of prayer and penance for the elections. That decision got my wheels turning.
As a writer and speaker and generally tied-to-the-internet person, I thought that, rather than dialoguing or arguing or fretting or hypothesizing any further, I could better-serve the good of my country by focusing my energy where it likely should have been focused all along: on prayer and fasting.
I decided to stay completely away from Facebook and Messenger and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat altogether for the sake of our country the day before Election Day and Election Day itself. Any time I thought about checking a social media platform, or posting something, or liking something, or doing anything remotely social media-like, I would take the opportunity to pray instead. Rather than scrolling through FB and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat several times a day, I just wouldn’t. I wouldn’t check, interact, or even log on.
Depending on where I am and what I’m doing at the time, my prayer may be long or short. Here are some ideas:
- Short prayers, such as: “Come, Holy Spirit,” “Lord, heal our Land,” “Jesus, I Trust in You,” and “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
- The Hail Mary
- Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
- The Glory Be
- The Our Father
- The Hail, Holy Queen
- The Memorare
- The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy
- The Stations of the Cross
- The Holy Rosary, especially the sorrowful mysteries
- An Election Prayer to Mary
Another way to pray is to read, study, and speak Scripture aloud, including today’s readings for Mass or a relatable Scripture like 2 Chronicles 7:14, which states:
“ … if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.” (NAB)
Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing. I would argue that, for me, this social media fast has been enough to cause me to pray a heck of a lot more during the day than I normally do. Not quite unceasingly, but it’s been darn close. It’s sort of stupid how often I think about social media, to be honest.
Anyway, I am not giving up hope on our politicians, our democracy, or our country, and I hope you won’t either. We should never, ever, ever underestimate the power of prayer and its ability to accomplish the will of God. We must be like the widow with the unjust judge – we must keep asking until we receive a judgement in our favor. We must continue to ask, seek, and knock on behalf of our country. We must continue to ask God to have mercy on us, our families, and our nation.
I truly believe that it is only when we humble ourselves before God and fervently seek His face that we will truly be One Nation, Under God – stronger than ever because we’re on our knees.