|Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula in Hawaii|
I have spent the last ten days spreading the Gospel of Life in Hawaii. Yes, sometimes our ministry demands that we take up even the most difficult of missions!
All joking aside, it has been a wonderful and fruitful tour, and I've had the pleasure of speaking to hundreds of Hawaiians in Churches and other venues. While it is difficult to imagine climate and ethnic traditions more distinct from Rome, it is always a blessing to find fellow faithful Catholics whose hospitality and faithfulness help one to feel at home.
What a zeal for life I have experienced here among the Catholics and Protestants (indeed, it sometimes seems as if Protestants outshine Catholics in their outspokenness in defense of life)! The other day I was especially moved by the stirring testament of a Jewish convert who spoke eloquently of his commitment to defending life and family.
The high point of the trip, however, was being able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in St. Philomena Church, a small chapel built by St. Damien of Molokai. His was such a powerful witness to life and holiness and his influence still permeates the people and the island where he sacrificed so much to serve and evangelize those cast aside by society.
St. Damien's holy courage is so needed today. As one of the newer saints of the Church, his example of sacrifice and bold proclamation of the truth is especially timely for us. Talk about a man who lived his faith in a coherent manner: he famously risked his own health, and ultimately gave his life, to care for many who suffered the ravages of leprosy and were shunned by society. But he never saw his service as being limited to mere physical comfort and healing: he knew that to comfort the body while doing nothing to save the souls of those given to him would be unjust. The Church sees the human person as being a unity of body and soul, not merely a physical being or just a soul with a body attached to it. To truly serve the human person, we must not only address his physical needs, but must address his spiritual needs as well, by living and preaching our faith.
Again, what a consistent example of our faith we see in St. Damien. And this example applies to how we live our faith in so many ways. Next Tuesday, Americans have the opportunity to rally against truly unprecedented the assaults on life and freedom that we have seen since the most recent change in political leadership. We have been discussing how our faith applies to the relevant issues (see here, here and here) and insisting that Catholics and all Christians strive to live their faith coherently, including in how they vote.
To be sure, our vote is only one facet of how we must live our faith in public, but when our moment comes we owe it to ourselves and to the One who gave us this great gift of freedom to make the most of it. If we do not take this key opportunity to select representatives who will defend all human life and dignity, who will defend natural marriage and traditional family, and who will take a stand against ruinous and immoral economic policy, we abuse our freedom. Neglect is a form of abuse. Imagine if all Christians who truly believed in their faith would do everything they could to vote in a manner consistent with their faith, and help others who had difficulty in voting to do so as well. Now that would be change that we could believe in.
St. Damien's example of lived, consistent, courageous faith shows what happens when one gives himself entirely to Christ. This kind of extreme courage is a gift to be sure, but in every moral choice we make, we are either preparing ourselves to shoulder more courage, or we are turning away. Our Lord wants to give us all the kind of courage he gave to Damien, and it is up to us to ask for it in prayer, and live in a way that shows that we can handle it and the other virtues we need to be more like Him.
Your vote next Tuesday is one small way to step up to your responsibilities. See also if there is anyone in your community who may have difficulty voting, and see what you can do to help them get educated about the choices and cast their vote. Finally, pray that the will of God be done in this very important election: that truth, life, family and marriage be honored in the choices made by our fellow Christians and all people of good will.
Saint Damien, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Thomas More, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula
Interim President, Human Life International
HLI - Spirit and Life