Keeping first things first puts everything else in proper order.
Hat tip to Fr. Albert Bruecken, OSB of Conception Abbey, who relayed the following story in his homily this past Sunday. I have adapted it significantly for use here.
A wise, elderly Benedictine nun was teaching first-year seminarians at a nearby Benedictine abbey and seminary college. Before class one day, she overheard her students grumbling about the abbeyâ€™s rigorous daily prayer regimen, which they were having some difficulty keeping amid their other pursuits. She often heard such things as the seminarians tended to speak more freely in her presence than around the monks with whom they lived. Little did they know, her convent kept the exact same prayer schedule.
The next day, she was prepared to address the issue with her students. She set a glass jar of large rocks on the desk. She inquired, â€œIs this jar full?â€ Clearly, no more rocks would fit inside the jar. Following a few snickers and some curious discussion, the students agreed the jar was full.
Sister grabbed a small bag of gravel from under the desk. She poured it in the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks. She inquired again, â€œIs this jar full?â€ Thinking they understood the lesson, the students agreed the jar was now full.
This time, the elderly nun retrieved a small bag of sand and poured it into the jar. Just as the before, the grains of sand filled the spaces among the rocks and gravel. She inquired a third time, â€œIs this jar full?â€ Thoroughly humbled, the class sat in silence, until one young man respectfully raised his hand. â€œYou could still pour water in it,â€ he said.
Sister smiled. â€œCorrect. Now, what if I had filled the jar with water in first?â€
â€œWell, there wouldnâ€™t have been space for anything else,â€ the student replied.
â€œCorrect again,â€ Sister said. â€œNow, what is the lesson?â€ After a brief period of silence, the wise, old nun continued.
â€œThe rocks are your spiritual life, which must come first. Everything else will fit around it in proper order and measure. When you get things out of order, they wonâ€™t all fit as they should. You must begin with Mass, daily prayers, Sacred Scripture, reconciliation, devotions, etc. These must come first, as they properly order everything else. If you put anything else in first, you are literally putting it in Godâ€™s place. You make of it an idol; you make it your God.
â€œYou must keep first things first.â€
Sisterâ€™s lesson is just as relevant for us as we head to the voting booth. We must keep first things first, putting our faith before politics.
While there are many issues of concern to Catholic voters in this election, the Church teaches there are five non-negotiable issues: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and same-sex â€œmarriageâ€. These five issues concern actions that are intrinsically evil, meaning they fundamentally conflict with moral law. Consideration of these must come first to properly order all other issues, which are matters of prudential judgment.
If nothing else, please pray before you vote.
- Offer your vote to God, asking Him to accomplish His divine will in this election through your vote.
- Ask for the gift of wisdom, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to inform your voting choices.