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Will You Vote With The Spirit?

Author: Toby Duckworth

Picture: PxHere

Will You Vote With The Spirit?

As the General Election approaches, God does not want us to sit back on the sofa, but to vote with all good conscience, says seminarian Toby Duckworth. 

The Christian community is used to voting, and has been doing so since the election of the twelfth Apostle (replacing Judas) in the early Church.

 

“Having nominated two candidates…they prayed: ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate.'”
- Acts 1:23-25

 

Notice that here the apostles prayed before making their decision; they asked the Lord to enlighten them, and only then did they vote. The decision the apostles made was not about them, but about God, who knows all, making His decision manifest through His servants.

 

Soon we are being asked to vote in an election, and thus to mandate the service of a new generation of politicians on our behalf.

 

As Christians, our voting should take on a particularly informed flavour. Each of us should research the candidates nominated, pray, and then vote as to whom we believe God would want to hold the office in question.

 

The Church does not ask us to vote for any specific political party or candidate, but leaves each of us the responsibility of good discernment.

 

A Balanced Reflection

We are trusted to do our own research, to pray and to act in accord with that, and with what our well-formed Catholic consciences dictate.

Reading the manifestos of each political party is not a bad way to start one’s research. However, even within any one political party, many candidates stand with far ranging beliefs and voting principles, so our research also needs to be specific to local candidates themselves.

 

Stances on life issues, poverty, immigration, the environment, social action and international aid are all very much (but not exclusively) important things to know. Our voting should be based on a balanced reflection, as to the candidate who best represents the Church’s ideals across the board.

 

Our actions should be informed by faith. If our worship (Mass, prayer, praise, reading of Scripture etc.) does not transform us into Jesus whom we follow, then we have missed the point.

 

Getting Involved And Doing Our Christian Duty

 

In fact, the Church teaches that having faith without good works to match is ‘dead and profitless.’ So, what we do is important, and we must be able to account for it to God.

 

At the beginning of each Mass, each of us asks for forgiveness of the sins we have made ‘in what I have done and in what I have failed to do’. That is because choosing not  to act, not  to do our Christian duty, is also sinful.

 

God does not want us to simply sit back on the sofa and watch the political news flood in which paints the destruction of all Christian ideals. No, God wants us to turn up and vote with all good conscience. By voting in accord with these principles outlined, we prove ourselves faithful.

 

To be faithful to God, we often have 'to enter through the narrow gate' and act radically differently to the crowd around us.

 

Research And Pray

 

When I was eighteen and just six weeks away from my final A-level exams, reality struck: I was about to go to university to study Chemistry just because “everyone” was going to university.

 

Not only had I not really thought about what I was doing for myself (research) but I also had not asked the Lord what I should do (prayerful discernment). By grace, I realised-before it was too late-that I needed to do both without delay.

 

So radically, unlike many of my peers, I suspended exam revision and, at the last minute, joined my diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. There I prayed for the Lord to show me the way forward. It was not initially to university, but into His service as a youth minister.

 

Our vote should not just be in keeping with the status quo  of the local area, but a real response to prayer.

 

Let’s prove ourselves faithful, then, by doing our own Google searches, praying ‘come Holy Spirit, show me the way’ -and doing as led, even if it is radically against the grain.

 

Toby Duckworth is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Birmingham. He is studying theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. 

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