While we were checking out at Walmart, the cashier made small talk with my husband. It started out as the same ol’, same ol’ – whether we found everything okay, how we were doing, and so on. It was all pleasant enough.

But then he suddenly maneuvered the conversation into an attack of one of the presidential candidates and how we’re certain not to do fine if that candidate wins the election. He paused and waited for a comeback from my husband. Up to that point, we’d not said or done anything with political connotations whatsoever. We weren’t wearing any political words or symbols, either.

Rather than being pulled into a confrontation, my husband told him, “I’m not going to say anything because I don’t know where you’re coming from with that.”

The cashier’s outburst was completely inappropriate regardless of his or our political stance. It’s not only that it was unprovoked, unexpected, and unwanted on our part, but also it didn’t belong in that context. It was unprofessional and uncharitable.

I wrote about this on my Facebook page, and a friend offered a thought-provoking response that still has me thinking. She suggested that it was fear that had generated the cashier’s behavior and that my husband and I just happened to be the right people to vent to.

Perhaps. But that leaves me with another consideration.

How do we most productively spend the final days before the US presidential election?

Certainly not by allowing ourselves to be gripped by fear, anger, or malevolence. Certainly not by provoking confrontation or alienation. Certainly not by burying our heads in the sand, either.

If not any of those, then what?

I think I can answer that in one word: faith.

No matter what, there will be an election, and there will be a winner, regardless of whether it’s our chosen candidate or not. We will have to live with the results – at least for the next four years. By the same token, no matter what, God will continue to govern the world and we will need to continue living our Catholic faith as best we can and with God’s grace. God doesn’t disappear or reappear depending on who wins the election and we won’t be relieved of our responsibility to be faith-filled Catholics depending on the election’s winner as well.

The best way we can spend these final days before the election – aside from making an informed decision and acting on it by voting - is to prepare ourselves for after the election.

How?

With prayer, fasting, receiving the sacraments as often as possible, trust in God, and with exercising charity in all we say and do. We need to pray for the candidates, all involved in the election (legitimately or illegitimately), our country, our Church, ourselves and each other.

Not that anyone who politically opposes us is an enemy, but we should remember what our Lord told us:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Mt 5:43-45)

That’s not to say we shouldn’t stay informed and when possible, where appropriate, and in charity, share vital information.

But, the main thing, I think, is the spiritual aspect.

God’s grace will see us through the election itself and through whatever comes thereafter. We must ask for that grace and then carry on in a grace-filled way. It won’t be easy, but it’s what we’re being called to do.

Let’s spend the final days before the election in a productive, godly way.