A Catholic Examination of Conscience for Voting:
examination in written form—meant for an internal dialogue of reason and conscience
The Examination of Conscience is an important Catholic practice to help align ourselves with God and His Church. Below is a short little form to make use of in thinking over our recent decisions in the elections which will happen tomorrow.
Disclaimer: these are merely personal reflections from a practicing Catholic, meant to help you in your own examine, and not meant to form any sort of doctrine on the matter.
1) Have I understood the candidates as individuals with beliefs and practices outside the influence of media sources (especially my preferred media sources)?
2) Have I reviewed my own beliefs? Are they in communion with the Catholic Church?
3) Did I select candidates who represent Catholic values, dignity of life, and long-term goals of communion of all peoples?
4) Did I make every effort to way the pros and cons of each candidate to understand how they would impact the role and practice of abortion in our country?
5) Did I let fear or love of God motivate my selection of candidates?
6) Will I be at peace with my conscience when I next go to Communion after voting?
In addition to a personal examination of ourselves over this election we must also set our minds to be resolute in actions that align with Church values until the next election cycle. Its possible we fall into the same tempting mindset we might have in Sunday Mass—to leave our Catholicism at the door until next time. Let’s not leave our Catholic-informed political values at the ballot box until next time. Instead resolve to take action. To participate in a party than can be formed and concerned about our values. A couple suggestions in that regard.
For all parties: the greatest potential for influence of politics and society begins at its source: the family. If we commit to making our families healthy we can make our society healthy. “The body is only as healthy as the sum of its parts.” To use the example of abortion, if a family unit was so well formed that when an unplanned pregnancy happened they could deal with the conflict, individually, as a whole family, and within their community, the temptation of abortion could be overcome through the floods of grace which God sends to those who seek it. Striving to be a healthy family is the vocation of all of us to truly implement and accept gracein our daily life. We will never eliminate abortion as the societal plague it is until we gain momentum in healing families. My favorite illustration is to look at Margaret Sanger’s own family experience. She was the founder of Planned Parenthood. Her family system was rife with trauma and broken attachments (psychology speak for poor relationships). If her family had been striving for healing how would the world be different? Its important to note her family was Catholic too. What did they fail at? They did not strive to be healthy in every facet of family life and what is more they were not able to make their faith practical. Faith must work in our families in order for us to make use of psychology and science to be healthier, progressing families. We don’t need to be perfect but rather making progress. The family is the cell of society, the smallest divisor of government. When, with God’s grace, we make our families well, we make politics and society well too.
And in all things let us remember it is Christ's kingdom that we seek to make present here on earth and we can never achieve this if we do not hold a deep intimacy with Him-a deep communion with the Trinity. So lastly as the most important suggestions, let us begin to participate in the Mass-the great communion-as the source and summit of not only our faith, but also our politics.