Every Christian is familiar with the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion (Eucharist). “Sacrament” comes from the ancient Roman term sacramentum, a soldier’s oath of allegiance to the Roman Emperor. Tertullian, a 3rd-century Christian theologian, argued that just as the soldier’s oath is a sign of beginning one’s new life as a soldier, so too are the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion (Eucharist) sacraments of initiation, sacraments of beginning and deepening one’s new life as a Christian.
Being born or naturalized in the United States (14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) is the civic equivalent of Baptism. Voting is the civic equivalent of Holy Communion (Eucharist). For just as Christians renew and deepen their identity as Christians by partaking in Holy Communion (Eucharist), so also do U.S. citizens renew and deepen their identity as U.S. citizens by voting.
Saint Augustine of Hippo defined “sacrament” as a visible sign of an invisible reality. If the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion is a visible sign of the invisible reality of ever-deepening communion in the Body of Christ, so too then is voting a visible sign of the invisible reality of our becoming ever more Americans, ever more U.S. citizens. Voting is a visible sign of the invisible reality of our ever-deepening initiation into, critical reappropriation of, and growing relationship with the U.S. and its Constitution.
Voting is then indeed a “civic sacrament” — the sacramentum in its original meaning as “oath of allegiance” — not to an emperor, but rather to know, defend and support the U.S. Constitution. As such, voting is the ultimate, absolute, and necessary expression of our U.S. citizenship. By voting, we as U.S. citizens commit ourselves to the American Experiment; to the never-ending project of forming an ever more perfect Union; to “government of the people, by the people, for the people” (Lincoln); to the battle for the Soul of our Nation, to “America, you great unfinished symphony” (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton).
Conscientious, deliberate, and well-informed voting is voting one’s conscience. Voting one’s conscience is an inalienable right, a patriotic duty, a sacred trust, a holy obligation, a moral imperative, an essential engagement, an awesome responsibility, a conscious commitment to the Common Good, and the beating heart of our democracy. Voting is and must be the complement, consequence and culmination of public protest. We make the world we strive for and want to see ever more real by our act of voting.
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While traveling in Germany and Holland I was fascinated by other people’s lives and their ways of being in the world. I want to share with you three observations that speak to the generosity of the heart.
First, in Holland, I needed the assistance of a dentist. It was almost 6 pm when my family called a local dentist in this neighboring little Dutch town. The dentist invited me to arrive close to 7:30 pm. In a most friendly manner, she repaired my tooth and asked for Euro 23.00 ($25.30).
Second, in Munich, I visited my childhood friend, Ursula, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. We spent the day together. That evening while sitting across from her at dinner, she turned to her husband and said she planned to call me tomorrow since she had not seen or spoken to me for the longest time. Her husband pointed out that I was sitting across from her. I realized my visit was meaningful for her only at the moment rather than as a memory we both could share.
Last, Ursula’s son Daniel, a physician, was taking a leave of absence, interrupting his professional commitments and opportunities so he, his wife and their daughter could tend to the needs of his aging parents. They seemed to be the happiest people on earth. I was reminded of the saying: “Never let a hardship be lost.”
So much more to share …
Many folks are walking the Camino. Did you know there is also a Hildegard of Bingen Pilgrimage by foot? It is a journey of 85 miles through meadows and hills.
We were reminded of Thomas Merton’s SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN
More than anything, “Avengers: Endgame” is about the redemptive power of human imperfection
We have just received a new bronze plaque quoting Richard Niebuhr’s advise:
GOD, GRANT ME THE SERENITY
TO ACCEPT THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE,
COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN,
AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
Image to follow soon…
We though many are one body in Christ.
Love bears it out even to the edge of doom.
Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, while it was still dark…
Mary stooped to peer inside…
…the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first…He saw and believed.
John 23: 3-4
LET US SING A NEW SONG, not with our lips but with our lives..