” … whatever you see your soul to desire according to God, do that thing, and you shall keep your heart safe.”

Verba Seniorum

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The election results last night reminded me of the 4th century Desert Fathers who left population centers to live in the barren deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia and Persia.

How so?

Well their departure to the desert was a clear repudiation of the pagan and godless world.  They sought not just distance from what was corrupt and godless but they sought salvation – a life of hope and what is good and kind and moral. They rejected the mores and customs and common discourse of a deadly and destructive society in favor of a life in the presence of God.  They sought to live as men and women were made to live – in faith, in kindness, in wisdom and understanding.  They sought to have their days and moments in each day in the presence of God and in faith.

As Thomas Merton says in his excellent short book entitled The Wisdom of the Desert, they repudiated a life of limited horizons and regarded the pagan culture “a shipwreck from which each single man had to swim for his life.”  As Merton says: “These were men who believed that to let oneself drift along, passively accepting the tenets and values of what they knew as society, was purely and simply a disaster.”

Yes, that was what happened in yesterday’s mid-term state and federal elections. Voters were swimming away from a shipwreck.

Yesterday was not just a rejection of a sitting president or his policies but his political party, its ideology, its attitudes, its arrogance, corruptions, divisiveness, incompetence and failures.  From the “war on women,” to the “you didn’t build it,” to “workplace violence” and the misuse of the IRS, Benghazi, socialized medicine and our inability to care for our veterans – voters acted like the 4th century hermits in turning away from a ship below water.

But now what to do?

We have all been given an opportunity.  The victors need to do one thing in all that they do and that is live and act in a virtuous manner.  If we are to restore our national health and character it will be by displaying what it is to live by virtues. In effect, those who lead must rise above the climate the vanquished have created and fostered in their acts, attitudes, language and outlook.

Those who now ascend to leadership must invite us to be one again.  They must welcome and teach and act without rancor or retribution.  Above all, they must remember that voters were swimming for their life away from the shipwreck of the opposition party and its destructive ways.

Rejoice and live by virtue.

Shalom.

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