Catholic Action Report Dec 2012

The spirit of life that Advent gives us is twofold; it looks back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, and it looks to the future when Christ will come again. In the interval between these two events we find meaning for our life as a Christian.

In 1963 Thomas Merton wrote an essay titled, “Advent: Hope or Delusion?” Although I am particularly biased and would generally say that all of Merton’s work is good, I find this essay to be particularly good, especially during the season of Advent.

Thomas Merton tells us “The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen.”

If recent times have not told us we need a savior, then we are truly lost. We as followers of Christ we are brought into this world needing God, then Baptized confirming our togetherness with God and his Church. Hope is instilled in us by the gift of life. Hope is there, though our faith. If we have faith, we have hope.

The devastation of the recent storms has tested many of our families and has tested their faith. There is hope for those who have suffered great lose that they will overcome, rebuild, and perhaps come back stronger than before. In those people we see a true meaning of strength through their hope built on a foundation of faith.

I am sure that when the winds and water began there fierce destruction many began to ask God why they were targeted for this awful tragedy. This natural reaction is the reaction that anyone that has suffered has felt. Through their suffering they look to others for help and any help gives them the faith to carry on. Perhaps those affected are chosen by God to assist those that are not as strong. The victims of the storm may in fact be the foundation for others to look to build their foundation with Faith. Their strength is a gift from God through a tragedy. We are told in scripture how we must us every moment as a teaching moment. My Brothers I do believe through this awful storm we all must learn that we can overcome but, no alone. We need the strength of others whether it’s their words, work, phone call, Email or just their presence; it is an opportunity to draw us all closer to God and his plan for us.

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to take part in the New Jersey AOH day of caring. Hibernians from several divisions assembled in Long Beach Island, Belmar, and Middletown to assist the victims of the storm. Many people where grateful for our presence. As we left each home after assisting I would turn and look back at each homeowner and would look at their face. The faces where lit up with a glow of relief. Although our efforts could not return things to they were before the storm, I felt that each was able to finally just exhale and share with us their gift of love. It was a truly hope filled experience for all the Hibernians.

Over time God has struck man down. The fight is especially strong in us Catholic Irish men and women. The power we have been given is great. There is no greater power in the world to have God on your side. Look to those we suffer the most as your faithful compass because we are born with hope and they have shared with us their Faith.

This Advent we need to remember through darkness there is light and hope which only comes from Faith. Merton tells us “The Advent mystery focuses the light of Faith upon the very meaning of life, of history, of man of the world and our being. In Advent we celebrate the coming and indeed the presence of Christ in our world. We witness His presence even in the midst of all its inscrutable problems and tragedies. “

Please remember that this Saturday, December 8, 2012 is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – this is a holy day of obligation in the United States

The Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the solemn dogma defined by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854. As Our Lady Immaculately Conceived is the patroness of the United States of America, this is a holy day of obligation in the United States.

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed on December 8, 1854: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church

My message to my brothers as we prepare for the Birth of Jesus Christ, is to let us look and reflect on the people that shape us, guide us, change us, help us, and love us. The best way we can thank those that shape us is to pass on the little messages that lead us to Christ trough the Holy Spirit. Fr Benedict Groshel shares his wisdom in closing, “As you consider your fellow travelers carefully, perhaps you begin to see something special in one or two of them. Perhaps you will find a hidden saint among them. There are many quiet saints; only a few have been chosen by God for fame, but many walk the road of life in the company of the Eternal Traveler, and they walk in our company as well.”

Happy Advent,

Make this year’s journey to the Birth of Christ with the wisdom of those that are suffering.