Archives for November 2009

Waiting for Advent

As Catholics, it’s easy to get swept up into the secular Christmastime culture. And, to be honest, there’s nothing wrong, in my opinion, with that. I love looking at lights, trimming the tree, and doing a whole host of holiday activities, even if in November!

Yet, as Catholics, we know there is a different path that we’re also called to take in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Our experience of Advent and Advent history, through prayer and mass, point to what a great hope we have in Jesus, the hope he’s given us through his Incarnation and the hope we have that he will come again.

Advent should ultimately be a time of reflection and prayer, where we get closer to God as we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ. When we consider how long the great heroes of Israel waited for the coming of Lord, putting aside a few weeks of reflection isn’t really much. But, even that is difficult when the world around us started celebrating Christmas before Advent even begins!

I’m not arguing that we need to refuse to celebrate Christmas until midnight mass on Christmas eve, but admittedly, it’s a challenge to remain engaged in the waiting in the midst of parties, lights, decorations, and family functions.

But, it’s a challenge we must accept because Advent is a wonderful time to grow more deeply in our faith and learn to wait for the coming of Christ, in the world and in our lives.

Catholic Education: Not Just for Catholics

Catholic Universities are not just for Catholics, says Jesuit Gianfranco Ghirlanda, rector of the Gregorian University. Catholic Universities must offer the Truth to anybody who seeks it, whether Catholic or non-Catholic. Catholic education is aimed “to all men and women who wish to receive an integral education for the development of a free and responsible personality.”

This is something that hits home for me. Being involved in Catholic education (although not at the University level), I know the struggles to reach out to non-Catholics while maintaining a strong Catholic identity. Some (perhaps most) schools that are seeing their non-Catholic enrollment rise aren’t doing a good job of keeping their Catholic identity, that is for sure, but that does not mean it is not possible. I think if we are doing the right things, our schools can be places that are thoroughly Catholic, yet that also attract truth seeking young men and women. In a way, we should be glad that our schools are seeing more non-Catholic kids. I mean, heck, we need young people  in the Church.  And I am not saying this as one who believes we should water-down our faith and worship to  “attract youth”; rather I say this as someone who would rather see more baptisms than funerals at my local parish. Jesus does not wish to see anybody lost, and we have a chance to seriously evangelize and catechize  students who may yearn for the Truth, and yet not know where to seek it. And if students don’t have a yearning for the Truth? Then, it is our job to help foster a search for the Truth among Cath0lics and non-Catholics. Is this a lot of work? Yes, perhaps, but 12 men going out to spread the good news across the known world was a little daunting as well!

I know firsthand the progress I see in non-Catholic students and parents. When someone dismisses these students and parents out-of-hand, or suggests they don’t deserve to be at a Catholic school, I have to stand up against this.

I know the responses I may hear: “but David, Catholic schools and Universities aren’t doing this; they are just becoming less and less non-Catholic with every non-Catholic kid…why bother?” My answer would be “what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?” I have to remind some of my Catholic friends, as Nicene Hobbit has pointed out to me before, that the opposite of misuses is correct use, not necessarily disuse. Just because Catholic Universities and schools may not be doing very well at educating non-Catholic (and Catholics!) in the Faith doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good idea.

For All the Saints

saint statues

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Hymn by William Walsham How. I hope everyone has a blessed Feast of All Saints.