Election 2012 was a day when my wildest dreams did not come true.
As much as I told myself that no matter what happened, I’d be ready to accept the future with the certainty that God remains sovereign, 11:55 p.m. found me face down in my pillow, posting “it’s the beginning of the end” on my Facebook status, bitterly disappointed with the results I was reading on the news, and vowing to move to Canada.
Once I finished wallowing, I reflected on what had been a significant highlight of the day. Earlier, several youth group alumni who are now college freshmen updated their Facebook statuses to share they had voted for the first time that day. When I saw the pictures of them proudly sporting their “I Voted” stickers, I admit that I suddenly found myself on the verge of tears, so proud of them for having taken the time to make this important contribution.
I was even more proud to see, based on their other comments, that their faith was informing their decision.
This reminded me that as much as we try to change undecided or decided minds, working to form them from the beginning is critical. While there’s no magic formula for raising a child to be a responsible Catholic citizen, there appears to be some common themes.
Responsible young adults often come from active families. While I’m sure it’s cumbersome to include children in political projects or social outreach, it’s important to open their eyes to the problems in the world and encourage them to see themselves as part of the solution.
In addition to praying regularly for the country as a family, consider scheduling an afternoon helping at the local pregnancy center or tutoring at-risk children among the soccer and piano lessons. This shows young minds that true change in society is brought about through their prayer and actions — not just the actions of their leaders.
Without exception, all of the students that boasted about voting had also attended local and national pro-life events where I watched them transform from Catholic youth into Catholic activists — standing with a million others who believed as they did served to cement their convictions in a way that no book or talk could.
This is the time of year when you may find your local youth group passing a basket to request support for their trips to pro-life events.
Consider that this is not just a trip, but an investment in the formation of future voters. Teens who stand up for life become adults who vote and volunteer for life.
If you’re like me, you may experience the temptation to spend hours discussing politics (online or in person), or read news reports and despair for the future.
While it’s important to always defend and clarify our faith, we shouldn’t forget that one of the best investments of our time and resources is helping our youth understand how their faith forms society. We must be models of prayer and action — being not just the change we want to see in the world, but the Catholic adults we want our youth to become.