Whether we reflect back on the readings from the end of the liturgical year or listen to the news about the projected “dark winter” — it will be doom and gloom if we allow it to be.

Advent is just what we need — a time of preparation for the coming of our Lord Jesus.  A time of hope and joy.

I am not going to pretend that I can fully comprehend the hurt and personal pain so many families are currently experiencing from COVID-19. There is much suffering from losing a loved one, being sick, or being afraid of getting sick. There are also many serious side effects from the virus including financial hardships, increased mental health, physical abuse and addiction issues and suicidal ideation. I have concerns that long after a vaccine is distributed that the ramifications from COVID-19 are going to linger for some time to come.

There are two things we can do — pray more intentionally and take action to support and love those we encounter. I pray that we all make a more concerted effort to engage more intimately with each other and forge relationships that bring us closer to knowing Christ — that is true evangelization.
During the recent 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian Consecration, St. Teresa of Calcutta explained that one important way that we live out our consecration is by recognizing God’s blessings and pondering them with Mary deeply in our hearts. We do not come to know the living Jesus through books, but from being with Him in our hearts. Creating the opportunity to hear Jesus in the silence of our hearts. As Christmas approaches, I feel that our fast-paced lives shift into overdrive and it’s hard to slow down. My perspective and personal challenge is that it’s not about finding the time, but about making the time for prayer.

Additionally, in the Marian Consecration, St. Teresa shares an enlightening point of view that the greatest evil in our world is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference toward neighbor. To console Jesus in others is to respond to their suffering, especially to that deepest, most universal suffering: the thirst for love. In my opinion, that is the epitome of our mission as Church — to be the loving and merciful face of Christ to those that are suffering and to console them. It is also important to know when professional resources are needed and where to find them. We may not feel that we can change the world, but we can positively impact one person at a time. May our living today reveal God’s goodness and enable us to bring the joy of knowing Christ to everyone we encounter.

I pray that we all may have a more meaningful Advent and prepare for Jesus to come into our hearts for Christmas. From my family to yours — Merry Christmas!

Please contact me with any questions about boosting evangelization efforts at your parish at Thomas.Cronin@rcda.org or by visiting https://www.rcda.
org/evangelization. Follow me on Instagram: tom_rcda.