'We are not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful'

Fr. Drew Mabee leads a holy hour on the eve of the election Nov. 7 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Beverly Hills to pray for the defeat of Proposal 3. Despite the proposal's passage, Catholics must continue to show mothers in need they are loved, cherished and supported. (Daniel Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

My wife could see it on my face.

When I woke up Wednesday morning and trudged to the kitchen to make my coffee, I felt defeated. I could barely lift my eyes as I fumbled for a spoon.

How could our state’s voters be so misled? Hadn’t they read any of the dozens of articles warning them about the grave evils that would become law if Proposal 3 passed? Did they understand what they were voting for? How could such an unjust law be passed? What had we worked so hard for these past several months?

I’m not naïve. I know a sizeable chunk of our society has no problem with abortion. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why something so clearly evil — the killing of our nation’s children — enjoys support from such a large portion of our electorate, but that's a sad fact of life in our society. We tolerate abortion's horrors because we can't see them.

But Proposal 3 — as the Church tried to warn — is more than that. It’s not just abortion, as horrible as it is. It’s about minors making life-altering decisions without their parents. It’s about basic standards of safety for patients. It’s about conscience rights for those who see abortion for what it truly is, and refuse to take part in it. It’s about partial-birth abortion and taxpayer funding. It's about abortion for any reason, at any time.

Surely, I thought, voters would recognize those things as a bridge too far.

They did not.

It’s hard not to feel depressed at Tuesday night’s results. It’s hard not to feel angry or guilty or hopeless. It’s hard thinking maybe we could have done more — maybe if we were more persistent, more persuasive, more organized, maybe more people would have seen the truth.

I’m still not convinced the majority of those who voted for Proposal 3 understand its consequences. I know how slick the ballot language was. And I know the temptation to just show up and vote, rather than get bogged down reading thousand-word essays on legal jargon and opinions. As hard as we tried, the “no” campaign faced an uphill fight.

Mother Teresa once wisely said Christians "aren’t called to be successful; we’re called to be faithful." There’s a lot of truth in that, especially when success is elusive.

Independent of our efforts, Christ really has won the victory over sin and death. It's not just something we say. When God became flesh, he entered a world overcome by sin in order to set right what we had wronged. Jesus was persecuted, flogged, spat upon, and crucified by the state in the most humiliating way possible. And then, when all seemed lost, he opened the tomb and redeemed the world.

He offers us his hand in mercy — no matter how many times we slap it away.

Now is the time to turn our gaze toward our crucified savior. He alone can offer the hope that political advocacy — however successful — can never achieve. He alone can touch the hearts of those who need desperately to hear how much they’re loved. As long as Christ is risen, we have all the reason to hope.

It’s OK to grieve this terrible loss. But our job isn’t over. Regardless of what’s in the Michigan constitution, what’s in the Gospel matters more. And the Gospel tells us our job is to love — whoever and wherever we’re called.

Despite this setback, the mission of the Church to accompany mothers, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said in a letter to the faithful this morning, continues “with greater resolve than ever.”

"This work is more critical now, as the unborn have been stripped of their basic right to life and their mothers face the harmful lie that the death of their children is a solution to their struggles," Archbishop Vigneron said. "In response to the passing of Proposal 3, we must step forward with no judgment, open arms, and effective resources to help women reject the 'solution' of death and empower them to choose life for their children."

"We will continue our efforts to build a culture of life in which abortion is unthinkable, all families receive the support they need, and the dignity of all people is recognized," the archbishop said. "We do this with confidence in the ultimate victory of Christ, whose resurrection to life has defeated the powers of death."

If each of us does this, it will have a greater impact than any law ever could. If we do this, Proposal 3 will become meaningless.

I also know that God doesn’t waste prayers. All of the holy hours, the rosaries, the Masses and prayer intentions offered these past two months — they’ll be put to good use. We don’t always see the fruits of our labors, but the Holy Spirit does. It’s part of the way God keeps us humble. Those treasures are stacked high before God’s throne — ready to be deployed to help mothers in need.

Success is always His.

Michael Stechschulte is editor-in-chief of Detroit Catholic. Contact him at [email protected].


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