Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What is the "Catholic Vote"?

CatholicVote.Org has put out a new video through their education fund and what strikes me is that, on the surface, it does not seem to be about the "Catholic Vote" at all. It is a very powerful video, highlighting some of the major issues we are facing right now, using excerpts from famous speeches: Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inaugural address, John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, Ronald Regan's inaugural address, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

It begins in fear, comparing how many people feel today with the fear that spread throughout the early days of the Cold War. We might not be afraid of being destroyed by Russian bombs, but we are definitely living in a time of uncertainty and this makes people nervous. Is the economy getting better or worse? What actions should be taken to improve the economy? How should we handle illegal immigration? What is the best approach to improving the environment? These are just some of the questions being discussed right now and the answers will have significant effects on many Americans. Also, this video brings up how many people feel disappointed by some of the current leadership of our country. The Tea Party movement is one example of this, but another more subtle one that I have noticed is the increased tension in the media with some current government decisions. LSU's campus newspaper, The Daily Reveille is definitely not the place you would find "conservative propaganda" and recently the cartoons and opinion pieces are far more critical of the current government than they have been in the last two years. For instance, today's cartoons really caught my attention. The first illustrated some repercussions of letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire: the wealthy would lay off employees who would then appeal to the government for assistance. The second was a boy sitting in front of an Obama campaign billboard that just said, "HOPE" in large letters. The boy was holding a paper the said "poverty rate" and simply said, "I'm trying." Everyone knows how important the elections this November will be to the direction our country takes and this leaves many people nervous about the future.

Once the video expresses where we are, it turns to hope. It encourages us to keep the dream alive, as the final words say. I like this expression of what the Catholic Vote is. It is not just voting against certain human rights violations-although that is very important-it is larger than that. Our faith shapes who we are as Americans. Every time we vote we are "voting Catholic" even if the issue at hand does not seem related to Catholic social teaching or moral principles because our faith is an inseparable part of who we are. More over, this video does not just apply to the "Catholic Vote", it calls all Americans to keep the dream alive and not to loose hope in our country.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy... Death?

I recently came across the Bonne Mort Society at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Carencro, Louisiana, whose main purpose is to pray for the members who have died, that their time in purgatory be lessened. It is a very interesting group; founded in 1906, their patron is St. Joseph because he was surrounded by Mary and Jesus when he died and therefore had a "happy death" which in French is translated, bonne mort. The membership of the group was dwindling, they use to have one in most Lafayette parishes, but now only one remains. However, in recent years, this last remnant is growing. Anyone can be a member, regardless of what parish they attend and people from Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana have joined this once small group. It's pretty basic as far as what they do to pray for the deceased members, they offer one mass a week for all the members as well as four masses soon after the death of a member. Also, around the feast day of St. Joseph, March 19th, they have a tridium of masses offered for the members of the society. An important aspect of this society is the comfort of knowing that someone is praying for you throughout your life as well as when you are in purgatory. The most interesting aspect of this society is the fact that on the 19th of every month they offer a mass for the "most forgotten soul in purgatory", this is someone who has no one on earth praying for them, who has been forgotten. To me this is so beautiful: to pray for the soul in purgatory that needs the prayers the most, in a way, because they have been otherwise forgotten here on Earth, yet are still our brother or sister in Christ even if we do not know who they are.