A prayer in hope for Catholic unity in 2021
Dear brothers and sisters,
Happy New Year! We hope you all enjoyed a restful break and a joyful celebration of the Christmas season. January has been a sprint for both of us, in our apostolic and professional lives. We’re sure the same is true for many of you. We pray in this difficult season, where our outlook can darken with the sky, that each of you find the strength of God’s love to serve where you are—as family members, as workers, as ministry leaders, and wherever the Lord calls you.
We all have so much to hope and pray for in 2021—for a COVID-19 vaccine, for a healthier politics better fixed on the common good, and for a return to regular living. We’d like to add one more to this noble list: a hope for Catholic unity in 2021.
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, the recent American election showed that our community faces many of the same deep divisions facing the wider society. Catholics on both sides of the political spectrum hurled terrible accusations at each other—sometimes questioning the state of their opponents’ souls. This violence of the spirit must end.
There have always been Catholics in different political parties, and different political visions. This will always be the case. But we pray that this year, we all follow our Gospel call to love one another as we love ourselves—as irreplaceable, precious children of God. We can support different policies and parties, but at the end of the day, we share a common foundation as disciples of Christ. It’s the shared bedrock of all our lives.
In this newsletter, you’ll find a link to a recording of our recent webinar. This webinar—a conversation about the importance of participating in the political party candidate nomination process—was a small-scale expression of what Catholic unity can look like. In this event, we brought together three former and current candidates from three different major political parties. No doubt their views of policy are wildly different from each other on many issues! Yet they all shared a common identity as Catholics, inspired by Catholic values, engaged in a charitable discussion of how our community can lead politics to the common good. This is Catholic unity. It’s what we’re called to. No “liberal Catholics” or “conservative Catholics”—just Catholics, pursuing Christ’s mission to build the Kingdom of God on earth… each taking different roads, but seeking the same destination.
May we all follow Pope Francis’ call in Fratelli tutti: Let us love us “as much when he is far away from him as when he is with him” … especially when that distance is one of political views.
Matthew Marquardt & Brendan Steven
Throughout 2021, we’ll be hosting a series of formation webinars for Catholic civic and political leadership. You’ll find a link to our first webinar below, on how and why you should participate in political party nominations. Thank you to all those who joined our second webinar with Dr. Brett Salkeld, on how to vote like a Catholic. You’ll find a link to the recording in next month’s newsletter.
Keep an eye out in this newsletter and on our social media for the announcement of our next webinar, on how great literature can teach us to be great Catholics and great Catholic citizens. If you love reading extraordinary books, you won’t want to miss this webinar! We’ll be interviewing a very special guest that we can’t wait to announce soon.
Also keep an eye out for the announcement of one of our major initiatives of 2021: the Catholic Leaders Mission, a spiritual formation and political training program for Catholic political candidates. We’ll be sharing more details soon. Meanwhile, if you or someone you know is considering a run for political officer in the near-future, please send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be opening the application process soon!
Works of Mercy In Out Community
In this space, we usually feature a volunteer or other opportunity for readers to participate in. These are always corporal works of mercy. But this time and in this circumstance—when Ontario is under a strict stay-at-home order—we wanted to suggest a spiritual work of mercy for readers to partake in.
Simply put: Consider praying for our people and our country.
We enjoyed reading the article “5 beautiful prayers from the Psalms”, by Marie Ann Torres and published by Salt+Light Media. The Psalms articulate the deepest desires of the heart and soul for God’s comfort—the songs of His people, crying out for Him. We encourage you to pray these prayers for those who are suffering in this crisis.
If these prayers touch your heart, consider watching Cardinal Thomas Collins’ Lectio divina series on the Psalms and Canticles. The Cardinal’s reflections on these incomparable prayers will be a boon to your conversations with the Lord.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE LECTIO DIVINA SERIES
Because political party nominations are often low-voter turnout, low-engagement election contests (depending on the riding and the winnability of the party in that riding), well-formed and greater Catholic participation in these exercises can be high-impact—particularly when it comes to elevating people of character to public office, and improving the options available to Canadian voters on the ballot. Because of a federal minority government, an election could come at any time, even in 2021—therefore many parties are launching their nomination contests now. Why is it so critical for Catholics to buy memberships with their party-of-choice, and vote in their local riding nomination contest? We gathered former Liberal candidate Jo-Ann Davis, former NDP candidate Talon Regent, and current Conservative nomination candidate Ben Smith to chat about why nominations matter. Thank you to our guests for this critical conversation and thank you to the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Director of Public Relations & Communications, Neil MacCarthy, for a special introduction. You can watch the full video below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Serving Your Community
We’re always looking to bring along more “fishers of men” to join the Catholic Conscience apostolate. If you’d like to learn more about what we do and why we do it—and see if this is the kind of mission God is calling you towards—we’re happy to share our recent interviews with the Thinking Faith podcast. In three parts, we share more about our apostolate, the work we do, and why we do it; the story of Matthew Marquardt’s founding of Catholic Conscience; and the story of our Executive Director, Brendan Steven, joined the mission.
LISTEN TO THE ORIGIN STORY—WHAT WE DO AND WHY
LISTEN TO MATT’S STORY—OUR FOUNDING
LISTEN TO BRENDAN’S STORY—FROM PARTISAN POLITICS TO CATHOLIC CIVIC AND POLITICAL FORMATION
From The Holy Father
In a recent edition of The Torch—the newsletter of our friends at the Newman Centre Catholic Mission in Toronto—Catholic Conscience President Matthew Marquardt shared his thoughts on a recent Newman workshop on ending poverty. He writes about how we define poverty, using Pope Francis’ words and Catholic social teaching as a guide to a Catholic understanding of this critical social concern.
“The poor you will always have with you,” Christ warned his disciples. (Matthew 26:11) But why? Why will they always be with us? The answer is that we, who now form the living body of Christ on earth, have work to do before we can follow him to heaven: we must, by showing continuous, steadfast love to those in need, ensure that the glory of God shows forth through us to the entire world. (Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 25)
READ THE TORCH AND THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE
What We’re Watching
We’re consuming more media than ever before. Especially in a time of pandemic, while we’re isolating at home, our eyes are glued to our TV, computer, and phone screens, absorbing an unprecedented amount of news and other digital content. We’ve discovered “doomscrolling”, where we obsessively read all the bad news related to COVID-19 and the world, and feel a deep sense of anxiety and dread. There’s a better way to approach news consumption… but what is that way? Given how topical it has once again become, we wanted to share video from our 2019 panel discussion on responsible news consumption. How should we fight the effects of bias in reading news? How should we be aware of our own bias or the bias of our media sources, and how do we counter these to gain a fuller picture of the truth? We discuss these themes and more with our expert panel.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH
We just completed the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an ecumenical observance celebrated around the world that expresses our hopes to God for the fulfilment of Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper, “that they all may be one.”
We offer this prayer for Christian unity, and for greater unity in our own Church so that we may evangelize the world as one community. This prayer comes from our friends at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
O God, under your wing you gather the whole of creation: praise and glory to you!
Help us to follow your will, to gather up all things in Christ.
Open our eyes to see the riches of your grace, so that we may open our mouths to proclaim the hope for the world which lies in you.
Help us to work for a world where people of different religions and cultures can live together in peace; for a just world where rich and poor share their resources.
Help us to use the gifts of your creation according to your wisdom, to the praise of your glory.