Monday, December 17, 2012
Dear Friends, We are all shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic shootings in Newtown, CT last Friday. It is so difficult to try and comprehend such violence, especially towards children and especially during this time of year when our thoughts are on peace, joy and goodwill towards all. It is difficult to be joyful and perhaps we feel guilty if we do. The tragedy reminds us never to take this gift of life for granted, never miss an opportunity to let our family and friends know that we love them. It also reminds us that we have much work to do. The sentiments of joy, peace and goodwill to all are not just sentimental greetings we express in December. They are meant to be a way of life and our goal for the world. Many are feeling defenseless, wanting to do something to ease the pain of those who suffer. First and foremost, we need to offer prayers for the victims, their families and all those who are hurting. This is not just a “cute, make you feel like you are doing something” expression. Prayer connects us to the divine, and is the most important act we can do for anyone. I will be contacting Msgr. Weiss, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima parish in Newtown. 8 of the children killed are from that parish, as well as the gunman and his mother. On your behalf, I will be expressing to him our prayers and support to them and to the entire community of Newtown. In addition, a special email account has been set up on our website. Messages to the people of Newtown may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. At the end of the month, I will print them all and send them to the Town of Newtown. As President Obama stated at last night’s service, the people of Newtown have inspired us by their example of coming together. Let us continue to support them with our prayers. Peace, Fr. David
Friday, December 14, 2012
The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is one that makes all of us pause in shock and disbelief. How could this happen? How could someone just randomly shoot others, particularly children? As I have been reading the updates on the internet, the words from Tuesday’s first reading from Isaiah are echoing in my head: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1) Like those before us awaiting the birth of Jesus, we are in need of healing, peace and joy as we await the Lord’s return. The darkness seems to once again be the victor of the day, hope has taken a hit. Our reaction is the same as it would have been 2,000 years ago: disbelief, despair, anger, resigned to a belief that evil trumps goodness. Yet, even this tragic event can’t hide God. I’m reminded of a quote I heard someone say in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings: “Even in the midst of evil, the face of Christ shines through!” Where is Jesus? Doing what Isaiah said: giving comfort. He was the teachers and staff who tried to stop the tragedy as it unfolded. He was the police officers and rescue personnel running into the school. He was the parent, teacher, staff person, neighbor, sibling consoling a young child. He is posting messages of condolence on Facebook and Twitter. One of the effects of baptism is it makes us other Christs in our world. We are his hands, his eyes, his voice and his heart in the midst of this unspeakable tragedy. In order to be sure that we are authentic to this identity, we need to be sure we remain connected to Him. We can’t handle all of this on our own. We need the support and love of others. We need to spend time with Him to unload the burden we carry. We need to hear his words of comfort and hope, his message and promise of love. We need to let his light overtake the darkness in our hearts, that we may bring that light to overtake the darkness that exists in our world. May the Lord bless the families who are suffering this day. May the souls of the departed rest in peace. St. John of the Cross, pray for us!
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
When I was in college I had a philosophy professor who would give us a quiz at the start of each class. The question s would range from topics from class reading to something he may have seen on his drive that morning. His purpose was twofold: 1. To take attendance, and 2. To begin the lecture and class discussion from the perspective of everyday life. At the end of the quiz everyone would pass their answers to the front of the row and he would collect them. One day I was sitting at the head of the row. When he came to collect the papers, I said “Merry Christmas!” It was the spring semester, so it was a bit of humor on my part to an ordinary classroom activity. He actually stopped, called the attention of the rest of the class and told them what I had said. He turned to me and said “Thank you very much.” He then said to all of us that Christmas isn’t just a once a year be nice to everyone season. It is a 365 day a year way of life. If you are serious about Christmas, live it. The same could be said about Advent. Yes, liturgically the Church marks Advent for four weeks out of the year. In reality, it is lived everyday by the Christian. Advent isn’t about getting ready for the birth of a newborn. It is about anticipating and preparing for Christ’s return. Advent reminds us that God is beyond ouir comprehension, as is His vision and His plan. When he offers us his love, he is not just thinking what we will need for this earthly life, he is thinking of our perfect union with Him that is only possible in the heavenly kingdom. Our lives on earth are spent preparing for that. Learning more about this God and uniting ourselves more and more to Him. The sentiments of hope, joy, peace and goodwill to all are characteristics of this preparation. We come to realize-and experience-that the darkness that exists in our world does not have power over God. Our lives are spent opening our minds and hearts to the light of Christ. The more we nurture our relationship with Christ, the less we fear, the more we love. Let us take advantage of this season of Advent, but let us seek to live Advent 365 days a year.