How Catholics Can Work for Change

The world is still reeling in shock after the display of violence at the United States Capitol building on Wednesday, January 6, as Congress met to certify Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election.

As protestors scaled the walls of the Capitol building, broke doors and windows and clashed with law enforcement, it appeared that our democratic process was under literal and physical attack.

“I hope and I pray that all of us want just and equitable rule of law. But as Americans, we realize that it’s the democratic process that makes this possible—not mob rule! And I think that’s what’s so disconcerting about all of this,” said Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ.

Fr. Matthew joined Trending with Timmerie as a guest host on the same day that the violence at the US Capitol was unfolding. He offered a wise and thoughtful reflection on how Christians can approach change—both in our spiritual lives and also in a political or social arena.

Spiritual Change

Let’s look first at how we can work for change in our spiritual lives. Fr. Matthew explains that many people in spiritual direction are looking for a quick fix, a dramatic change that will transform their spiritual life overnight. They ask for an extreme, almost violent action that will be an immediate solution to their struggles with sin or other spiritual woes.

Fr. Matthew refers to “all of the spiritual masters throughout the course of history” when he says, “Violence against yourself in the spiritual life rarely works.”

He advises a much more effective solution: slow and lasting conversion and change.

“I’m not giving you permission to spread out your sin for a long time. … You have to leave sin behind NOW, of course. What I’m saying is if you want to leave sin behind for good, you need to develop the right habits; you need to put into place the right virtues.”

Fr. Matthew further notes: “The evil one loves cacophony and the evil one loves dramatic things that satisfy our senses but don’t actually take root in our lives.” When we approach change in a methodical and peaceful way, we cement change that will last.

Social Change

What does this have to do with social and political change? A lot, actually.

“I think the same is true of social change,” explains Fr. Matthew. “Yes, sometimes upheaval is part of how societies are transformed. And when there is extreme, grave injustice that is clearly evident inside of society, sometimes rebellions are necessary. This is not that case today.”

Certainly, the political climate in our nation has created increased division and has many people desperate for change.

“I hear the emotions running raw. I hear people say, ‘What else are we supposed to do when we feel that justice is not happening in the country?’” he said. “For me as an American and as a Catholic I say, what do you mean what else are we supposed to do? We are supposed to vote! We are supposed to work through the democratic process.”

When we ignore the processes put in place for political change and instead turn to rash, extreme, or immediate actions, violence results.

Let us all pray for peace in our nation, work for a just society through the proper means, and work individually to transform our hearts and invite God into our lives.

Listen to more from Fr. Matthew Spencer:

Read Fr. Rocky’s reflection on the events at the U.S. Capitol.

Tune in to Trending with Timmerie weekdays at 6-7pm CT only on Relevant Radio®.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.