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October 8, 2008
 
Faith and Politics
 
 
Faith Formation Update is a free monthly e-newsletter for catechetical leaders with a focus on parish catechesis beyond textbooks and classrooms. I'm Jeanne Hunt. In each issue, I offer a brief starter and my “Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Chuck Blankenship suggests other faith-formation resources for adults from St. Anthony Messenger Press in his column, “Sowing Sampler.” Finally, we encourage YOU to share views and program ideas about this month's topic on our online bulletin board, “Faith Formation Forum.”
We address a challenging topic this month: the relationship between faith and politics. The catechist should be prepared to field the questions of students and adults concerning the ethical responsibility of the Catholic voter as we face a national election. We hope that Faith Formation Update can offer some helpful insights.
—Jeanne Hunt
 
     
 
 
The Straight ‘Moe’ Ticket
 
 
Growing up in a Midwest, blue-collar family, I knew that we were Democrats. My dad was a “union man,” and being a Democrat was simply an expected choice. Later, as I grew up and Dad saw changes in the national parties, he wavered. We would have long political discussions (sometimes heated) in which my father would say in desperation, “I’m voting the straight moe ticket: Eeny, meeny, miney, moe!” The fact is that political choices are not clear-cut. We often want to ignore the work it takes to assess a political candidate and take the “moe” route. However, as catechists and Catholics we cannot ignore the responsibility to make informed choices as the November elections loom. The issues of economic justice, peace, human rights and a consistent ethic of life must be a part of our curriculum. Without being partisan, the catechist can use the major political parties’ platforms as a springboard to forming a Catholic conscience. I encourage thoughtful debate, open forum and information gathering with a newspaper and material from the Internet in one hand and a catechism in the other. We are called to prepare our students for a faith-filled life when choices are not always easy.
 
     
Online Catalog
 
 
Politics and Prayer
 
 
While church and state keep a healthy distance in our culture, at least in theory, we know that it is not enough to just research the political issues as we prepare for the election. Prayer allows us to bring wisdom and discernment into the mix. Teaching our students to invite God into their discernment brings a dimension to political choice that cannot be underestimated. As catechists, we model what prayer is meant to be in our daily lives. Praying for a just election, peace in our time, prosperity in our land, life for the unborn, among other issues, is as powerful as physically working for our cause. Franciscan Rock Travnikar‘s book The Blessing Cup: Prayer-Rituals for Families and Groups is a wonderful resource for teaching this important faith skill. As the voters come to the polls in November, such prayers as “For Peace,” “With Respect for the Earth” or “For a Civic Holiday” set the pace for original prayer in the classroom. Teachers and students can create their own versions of blessing cup ritual prayer. The blessing cup can become a sign of solidarity—oneness in prayer and blessing. These simple prayer rituals incorporate a blessing cup that speaks silently of the unity we need to remember as we continue to proclaim: “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
 
     
Online Catalog
 
 
Print and Online Resources About Faith and Politics
 
 
As another election approaches, Catholics are challenged to discern which candidates most closely support the values upheld by the life and teachings of Christ and the Church. From presidential to local elections, we must vote as well-informed citizens and people of faith.
Whether a one-issue, straight-ticket, occasional or nonvoter in past elections, each adult should be preparing for November 4. Consider the candidates, the challenges that the world, nation and local community are facing along with insights gained through prayer, Scripture, homilies, reading, and small-group and family discussions since the last election. As a catechetical leader, you must encourage, challenge and assist your parishioners in this important endeavor.
Order back issues of the September Every Day Catholic, “Our Brothers’ Keepers—Faith, Politics and the Common Good,” for small groups who gather to prepare for the upcoming elections. It won’t tell anyone how to vote, but it will help adults make sure that their faith is applied to their political choices. There’s a suggested group process available free at catalog.americancatholic.org/guide. It will help you and other group facilitators plan for these gatherings. Call 1-800-488-0488 to order.
Order additional copies of this issue of Every Day Catholic for the rest of the parish. Use the prayer, “Litany for Guidance,” at all parish meetings between now and the election. Send it home with students. Discuss the column, “Forming a Political Conscience,” at PTO and faculty/catechist meetings. Gather a group to watch and discuss the movie The Candidate. (Two clips are selected for small group gatherings; additional questions are provided for those who watch the entire movie.) Make copies available at Sunday Eucharist and publish the seven principles of Catholic social teaching in the bulletin. Get your community talking and thinking and praying—together and individually—about their votes in the upcoming elections.
 
     
Online Catalog
 
Explore the Call to Holiness
 
 
In most parishes, it seems, you can count on one thing when you propose a new study series, book club or other opportunity for spiritual growth: Most of your participants will be women. Now St. Anthony Messenger Press is publishing a new series designed precisely for the women in your faith community—Called to Holiness: Spirituality for Catholic Women.
Series editor Dr. Elizabeth A. Dreyer writes that the goal of the series “is to give women ideas, energy and creativity to continue on their journey toward holiness. The world needs the voices of women—their virtues, insights and other diverse gifts. We want to assist women in their desire to lead intentional spiritual lives.”
Eight books will explore women’s spirituality through eight different lenses, from the general call to “do theology” in Making Sense of God: A Woman’s Perspective to exploring the call to holiness in grieving (Grieving With Grace: A Woman’s Perspective) to the call to holiness found in an active spirituality (Living a Spirituality of Action: A Woman’s Perspective). Other volumes, coming in the spring and fall of 2009, include volumes addressing Latina spirituality, prayer, spirituality of family life, and spirituality in the middle years and in the young adult years.
For further insight into the series as a whole, explore the series Web site: www.CalledtoHoliness.org. From there you can find links to explore each of the eight books, as well as links to more information about the individual authors. You will also find links to study guides for each of the books, which contain suggestions for use with study groups as well as a link to the special “Companion Songs for Called to Holiness: Spirituality for Catholic Women” music CD. All in all, the Called to Holiness series offers you an exceptional set of resources for helping the women in your faith community explore the call to holiness in their lives.
 
     
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