By Steve Trosley
Mom was certain the world was soon to end.
She sounded like a lot of people who have visited with me in months prior to the Nov. 6 general election. We live in an era of hyperbole.
Mom, who was ahead of her time, took elections seriously. In 1956, Adlai Stevenson, Democrat of Illinois, was her presidential candidate.
His opponent was Dwight D. Eisenhower, the general of World War II fame. He had served a term after defeating Stevenson handily in 1952, which I do not remember. We watched all the 1956 conventions on our black–and-white Philco TV. The picture was grainy but unless a poorly tuned car drove by, the static was tolerable.
After dinner, we said a family rosary for a Stevenson victory. My Dad’s heart was not in it. A World War II European theater veteran, he favored Eisenhower. He saw Stevenson as a patrician, beholden to the Chicago political machine.
My mother saw the polished Stevenson as the heir to Franklin Roosevelt. She had thought Harry Truman course, common and unworthy. Besides, Eisenhower had Richard Nixon on the ticket as the vice presidential candidate. She did not trust Nixon. Further, Eisenhower had had serious heart attacks, which made Nixon seem even more ominous.
My parents canceled each other’s vote as usual. Mom was a dyed-in-her-Rooseveltian-heart Democrat. Dad was a free agent, despite union membership and constant griping that the “bosses have it over on the working man.”
I had to go to bed before the results were known — a first-grader needs his rest ‘ but when it appeared early on that Eisenhower was going to win all of the big states, including Stevenson’s native Illinois, Mom declared that war, economic disenfranchisement of the middle class and all other manner of calamity were about to befall us.
When we awoke the next morning, Mom was already on the phone with her cronies thinking up even worse scenarios that would come from an Eisenhower second term. I set off for school at St. Bernard’s elementary, convinced that hard times were here.
As I remember it, the next four years were pretty good if you didn’t mind an occasional in-school nuclear war drill. (Our school was four blocks from two fire-prone oil refineries and a half-mile from an explosion-prone ammunition plant, so drills were a good idea.)
There were people who were elated with the results and people who were disappointed on Nov. 6, 2012. The story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus came to mind. Discussing the execution of Jesus and the events of the days following, they were confused. But then Jesus came to them, fed them the Eucharist— they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread, Luke 24 tells us – and they realized He was there for them.
The times ahead could be difficult. But each of us experiences joy and success, confusion and fear. We’re all walking the road to Emmaus. And Jesus is here for us, too.
As a bishop after Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI predicted there would be hard times for the church. He foresaw the future church as “not the church of the political cult but as the church of Faith.”
He also foretold of a church that was “more spiritualized and simplified.”
That’s why so much energy is focused on the New Evangelization in this Year of Faith. That’s why so much effort in the archdiocese is being put into “revitalizing the domestic church,” starting with the families that are its foundation.
As we sort out the good and the bad of the coming years, let’s take comfort in recognizing Him in the breaking of the bread.
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The Catholic Telegraph family wishes you and your family a joyous and blessed Christmas season.