My then-boyfriend, now husband, said it best several years ago, "Proper preparation prevents poor performance." as a reminder to himself to keep on top of his practicing responsibilities as music major. Although that period of lives have long since past (neither of us have touched our instruments in three years), the message remains true. When we prepare properly, whether through practicing our saxophone solo for weeks or by studying for our final exam, it prevents us from performing poorly and not succeeding.
We also have to prepare for spiritual life. How can we possibly perform well, overcoming the temptations of daily life, if we have not properly prepared? Just like we prepare for the day by resting, eating, getting dressed, etc., there are things we can do to prepare for each day. As the Apostles tell us, we should rise up and pray each day. The saints model this for us as well. Time spent with Christ each day arms and equips us for the battle each day can be (whether we realize it or not). We struggle each day against a variety of things; against the temptation culture offers us, against the flesh and blood rulers of our world who try to tell us things are good that are not.
"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
And how do we do that? It is deceptively simple. We pray, we attend Mass and worship God whole-heartedly, we receive spiritual nourishment through the Eucharist...
"Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints."
In honor of today's midterm elections, I wanted to address an issue that we face as members of a society that does not align with our faith. Regularly, things are made legal that are not moral and we are forced to discern between the two. Just because our government says it is okay to do something does not mean that our faith does.
We have to, as members of the Body of Christ, discern between the two. Doing this requires us to have the knowledge and wisdom to collect information and make an informed decision. It is important to know our faith; without knowledge, we will be unable to identify what the Church teaches it and use it to guide us.
Although our government has some just laws, such as punishment for murder or stealing, there are also laws that our Catholic faith does not believe is moral or just. The most important thing to know though is that despite Jesus' instruction to give what to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, it was wrong to kill Jesus regardless of the crimes He did (or did not ) commit. It was legal to release Barabbas; it was not moral.
Ultimately, the responsibility falls to you to either shout with the crowd, "Crucify him!" or to listen and learn from him. The Jewish people took comfort in the legality at the priests hid behind resulting in Jesus' death.
While we cannot impose our morality onto another, we can pursue morality in our lives. Don't use legality to soothe your conscience; strive to intentionally live counter-culture despite how easy it would be just like legally rather than morally. Seek out the knowledge to discern wisely and faithfully. Ultimately, only you can decide when the two do not align.