Lent is the season of reconciliation and sacrifice. The true meaning of “penance” is derived from metanoia, Greek for “change of heart.” And Washington D.C. is a place in need of grace for true transformation. The political establishment knows it. Lights, cameras, action.
One must read the text line by line of the inspired speech delivered to the Joint Session of Congress by President Donald J. Trump, to understand the temporal and theological implications, to comprehend the enormity of challenges yet the profound blessings being showered upon this nation at this pivotal time in history. Desiring good to prevail for all people, President Trump stated, "We are one people, with one destiny...And, we are all made from the same God."
Relieving tensions, President Trump confidently took hold of the “torch of truth, liberty and justice,” reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty symbol of America. Like Billy Sunday, he was on fire with the American Spirit proclaiming “we will use it to light up the world.” From the outset, the President’s thesis advanced a strategic renewal plan incorporating theological virtues of “faith, hope and love.” Unlike the recent Oscars, the conclusion of this theo-drama unfolds with clarity and closer cooperation, a “Main Street USA” winning production in progress.
It is disturbing to hear of holy Jewish sites and Christian churches being desecrated, heartless crimes perpetrated and victims deprived of sanctuary and justice. President Trump strongly stated, “While we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.” Promising “to deliver a message of unity and strength,” the President delivered what he promised.
“He Who Has Ears, Let Him Hear (Matthew 11:15)”
Like Billy Graham, President Trump proclaimed, “Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America.” This inspiring call to action by the successful businessman elected as 45th President of the United States did not fall on deaf ears in the House Chamber, media outlets or living rooms.
Popular twentieth century Thomist philosopher Josef Pieper notes, “Belief is by its nature a free act.” Close-minded people who choose to focus on the past instead of opening their ears and hardened hearts to a brighter future need enlightenment. Set aside partisanship in favor of patriotism. Restoration in pride of being an American is the Reaganesque trumpet calling all American people to renewed faith, hope and love for God, country and life. Good news, millennials I know find it cool to be patriotic and pro-life. That will Make America Great Again.
Americans agree that the most memorable part of this historic Congress event was the compassionate link between President Trump and the widow of Navy Seal Ryan Owens and the spiritual connection with her husband. The cinematography panning was riveting generating bi-partisan tears. In a special way, we all felt connected to this American hero who sacrificed his life for our freedom.
I submit that another profound moment of grace was when CNN expressed admiration for President Trump and the pundits were “Americans first” before political agendas. Post-speech comments by Anderson Cooper, Gloria Borger, Don Lemon and former Obama team member Van Jones offered glimpses into illuminations of consciences. President Trump clearly hit a cord and touched hearts of skeptics. What is exciting is there is hope for healing and unity if courage with grace prevails.
Trump Means Business and Jobs
As a personal anecdote, I flashed back to the RNC Cleveland Convention, where I had a serious discussion with Van Jones in the Arena. Growing up in South Los Angeles I hold passionate concern for inner-city plight and frustration for why both parties ignore it.
I enthusiastically expressed, “Van, you know that Trump will be great for the community, finally kids and struggling businesses will have a chance to reach their potential. Look at Crenshaw district, Walmart closed-jobs lost. Leimert Park stores are shut down. Why not help Trump rebuild our inner-cities, no matter what party we belong to? Come on Van, let’s all work together.” This is President Trump’s hopeful plea of unity and following his speech skeptical pundits, including Van Jones, exhibited change of hearts. Bravely standing up to political peer pressure will result in practical solutions for struggling Americans. True charity. Let us welcome a “new chapter in American Greatness.”
New Hope=New Life
In Judaism-the heart, not the brain, determines life. President Trump described the source of his speech, “a message deeply delivered from my heart” with incredible life energy. One could say, he has inspired 70 as the new 50. What was also notably transforming was he touched resistant hearts of media naysayers and even unlikely members of Congress such as Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn defense of share buybacks Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo In Washington, the road almost never taken MORE who reluctantly broke into energetic applause when he spoke about helping women entrepreneurs.
Hope is the virtue which holds other virtues together and we learn from St. Thomas Aquinas that the “mother of virtues” is love. St. Mother Teresa taught, “We must love until it hurts.” President Trump described Ryan Owens and those who virtuously sacrifice their lives for our freedom and protection until it hurts, passionately noting, “For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.”
Fellow Americans, brothers and sisters, let us respect and be grateful to our commander-in-Chief and all who love our country sacrificing to serve a cause greater than themselves. The color purple symbolizes Lent and the blending of red and blue for royal splendor.
Possibly your Lenten sacrifice Mr. President, and your penance political pundits, is to love and respect each other for the greater good of America. Recalling the inspiring words of St. Paul to the Corinthians, “Faith, hope and love abound, but the greatest of these three is love.”
Noël Irwin Hentschel is Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of AmericanTours International (ATI), America's largest privately held, American-woman owned, "Visit USA" tourism organization. Mentored by St. Mother Teresa and Lady Margaret Thatcher. Follow her on Twitter @NoelUSA
The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill