Peace of Christ and Merry Christmas! A couple days ago, I finished my first semester of First Studies and vowed Jesuit life. Dang, it has been liking climbing the mountain pictured below (but then again, we rode in a car up that one!). Classes have been tough ("have I gotten stupider or has school gotten harder?"I've wondered, :) and Jesuit life (and, of course, Christian life) is always calling for greater maturity, growth, and fidelity. However, it has been worth it! There is so much good work to be done, and I dare not let the little things (or the big things) get me down. Not once have I wished I were anywhere but Chicago or in the Society of Jesus. This Jesuit vocation is God's great gift to me; I am confident I made the right choice this past August.
Below is a recent update and then a poem I have written about the Catholic Church, which I share with you. Truly, I am reminded of how beautiful and necessary she (Holy Mother Church) is in these times of much turmoil/confusion in the world and in the Church. But then again, when in the history of the world/Church hasn't there been turmoil? This Christmas, I invite you who are Catholic to help "bring home" any of those who may need some encouragement to return to the Church this season and into this New Year, which Pope Benedict XVI has declared will be an upcoming "Year of Faith" starting in October for the 50th Anniversary of the great Second Vatican Council. We are blessed right now to have a successful advertising campaign on television, called "Catholics Come Home" (maybe you've seen the TV ads) but friendly invitations and prayers (more so than commercials) are able to reach out and make the difference. At the bishop's conference recently, the President of the US Bishops, the joyful Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, echoed Blessed John Paul the Great's words: "Love for Jesus and His Church must be the passion of our lives!" I can't agree more, and I am indeed using this blog and this moment to spread this message also, as I urge you to do in your own ways. If you are interested in the Catholics Come Home campaign, here is their best commercial (2 minutes):
And their general website:
Here is the text of Archbishop Dolan's honest, powerful speech:
Truly, these can be sad and difficult days, as scandal and mistrust (caused by a small minority) threaten and loom over the Church we love. However, let us remember that all of Satan's plans backfire, and that we are witnessing what Vatican II called "a new springtime for the Church." We aren't giving up, and in fact, the Church is growing stronger each day as we re-build and re-claim Christ's Church so that is a safe, loving, inspiring, and courageous home for all people. Let us remain faithful to the Church and to her teachings. Let us consider Archbishop Dolan's reflection upon the late Jesuit theological Cardinal Henri de Lubac: "That truth--that he, Christ, and she, his church, are one--moistens our eyes and puts a lump in our throat as we whisper with de Lubac 'For what would I ever know of him, without her?'"
I am inspired by all of you--people of good will and/or members of the Church--who choose hope over despair. Indeed, that (HOPE) is the essence of Christmas.
Give glory to God and have a Merry Christmas! I love you and pray for you all! Thanks for your prayers for me; they have carried me.
|Some of my Jesuit brothers and I on top of Mt. Evans in Colorado|