In a scene from the movie Fiddler on the Roof, the rabbi is asked an important question: "Is there a prayer for the Tsar?" After some reflective thought, the rabbi raises his hands in the air and exclaims "Of course, there is a prayer for the Tsar." "May the Lord bless the Tsar, and keep him far away for us."
I propose that this prayer, in a somewhat modified form, be applied to our nation: "Lord bless the president, and keep him far away from us!" I think the time has come for us to realize that our beloved country, under its current leadership, is moving quickly down a dark and, dare I say, dangerous road.
It would be difficult to document all that the Obama administration has enacted that either undermines, or goes directly against the Judeo-Christian values and principles upon which our country was established. One of the more recent instances of this was the establishment of the so-called Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in the United States. I quote the statement issued by the White House: "NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists."
We have rightly taken pride in being a Christian nation "under God." Now, however these words no longer seem to fit; this reality is slipping away. There are however, many, hopefully millions, who still hold to the principles upon which our country was founded. The best of these principles find their source in the Scripture, especially the Gospels. During this time of radically shifting values and the erosion of foundational principles, we need to once again stand firmly upon Christ, who is the source of our lasting principles, and our true nourishment especially in times of trouble and unrest. Although we continue to pray for a "change of heart," as well as holding the office of the president in great respect, at this time we cannot count on our country's leadership to point the way.
I am reminded of the words of St. Peter when, filled with the Holy Spirit, he proclaimed to the people "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation" (Acts 2:40). Peter called the people to conversion. We too must seek ongoing conversion to Christ; a conversion that is deep and lasting. I think of the words of John Paul II in his encyclical Mission of the Redeemer. In addressing the topic of conversion, John Paul writes:
"Conversion is a complete and sincere adherence to Christ and his Gospel through faith. Conversion is a gift of God, a work of the Blessed Trinity. It is the Spirit who opens people's hearts so that they can believe in Christ and confess him. From the outset, conversion is expressed in faith which is total and radical, and which neither limits nor hinders God's gift. At the same time, it gives rise to a dynamic and lifelong process which demands a continual turning away from 'life according to the flesh' to 'life according to the Spirit'" (MR 46).
In Fiddler on the Roof Tevye and his fellow Jews, in the small village of Anatevka, held on to their faith in God in the midst of great oppression from the Tsar and others. Let us follow not only their example, but especially the example of all the saints throughout the ages, and proclaim Christ with confidence, courage and charity, both in our words and in the witness of our lives.