Last year, in the last issue of 2017, we reviewed the year’s highest and lowest points and set them to the lyrics of “Silent Night.” It was an homage to Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 “Silent Night/7 O’Clock News,” which featured the duo’s trademark harmony on the traditional carol accented by a muted reading of the day’s news.
The news report alternately clashes and blends with the harmony and lyrics of “Silent Night” — underscoring the tenderness of Christ’s birth and the reality of the human condition.
We’ll repeat that year in review this year and perhaps for several years more. But unlike Simon and Garfunkel, our reading of the news will look for the hope that lies beneath the surface; the resurrection amid the disaster. We’ll share the Good News:
Silent night, holy night…
The year began with the horrifying mass-school shooting in Parkland, Fla., where a former student took the lives of 17 and injured another 17 people. Shootings continued through the year and by October, Louisville joined the list of cities affected by this kind of gun violence. On Oct. 24, two African American residents of Louisville were shot to death at Kroger in Jeffersontown. A few days later, 11 Jewish men and women in Pittsburgh were shot to death at their synagogue.
These killings, being investigated as hate crimes, are a wake-up call. We have tolerated hateful rhetoric that incites this kind of violence for too long.
Fortunately, our children are here to remind us of this. In response to the Parkland shootings, students around the country — and in the Archdiocese of Louisville — have raised their voices, calling for common sense gun control measures.
All is calm, all is bright…
Natural disasters — fires, hurricanes and flooding — have plagued people in the United States and around the world in 2018. These natural disasters perennially bring out the best in human nature.
Dioceses across the country took up collections to aid victims of Hurricane Florence that hit the Carolinas in September and Hurricane Michael that devastated part of the Gulf Coast in October.
Thanks to its infrastructure and experience with disaster relief, Catholic Charities was able to mobilize quickly and use the donations to offer emergency relief and long-term recovery assistance to those affected by the hurricanes, as well as victims of wildfires that ravaged California.
Round yon virgin
mother and child…
Families took a beating in 2018. Poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, substance abuse and other related social ills haunt families in our community.
The Archdiocese of Louisville — Catholic Charities in particular — and a host of partners continue to provide direct services to people in need. A new grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has given rise to a new effort at Catholic Charities to empower its clients to become well-informed advocates for themselves. The project is just beginning, but promises to bear fruit.
Holy infant so tender and mild…
New reports about sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania, the exposure of abuse by Cardinal Thoedore McCarrick and revelations that some bishops were complicit in coverups have threatened the very faith of some Catholics and rocked every level of church leadership.
These revelations can only be seen as good news — this corruption can only be eradicated with transparency and truth.
The Archdiocese of Louisville continues to educate its employees and volunteers about how to recognize and report suspected abuse. And the U.S. bishops are expected to address the issue with Pope Francis — and others from around the world — in February. As this unfolds, we pray for truth, transparency and healing, especially for the victim survivors.
Sleep in heavenly peace…
An alarming report issued by 13 federal agencies brought new urgency to concerns of climate change last month. The report warned that if we don’t curb our carbon emissions, perilous health and economic consequences lie ahead.
Catholic leaders have urged the faithful to embrace the Catholic tradition of sacrifice to help rein in their emissions and divest of fossil fuels.
Locally, small and large efforts aim to care for creation. The Archdiocese of Louisville installed solar panels on its new Pastoral Center this year.
Students at St. James School recently started gardening and composting. St. Gabriel Church has installed a natural playpark, designed to give children the opportunity to take pleasure in the natural world, eschewing plastics and other artificial materials.
Sleep in heavenly peace.
As a nation, we are failing our brothers and sisters seeking asylum in the United States. Our response to their desperate search for shelter echoes the popularized Christmas villain — the innkeeper who rejects the holy family. We have no room for you here.
Seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, may she rest in God’s peace, died in the custody of the United States on Dec. 8, two days after she and her father turned themselves into U.S. border agents.
A statement about her death from the U.S. bishops reminds the faithful of our obligation to her and others like her.
“As we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, himself a child whose parents were told ‘there is no room,’ we continue to recognize and affirm that seeking asylum and protection is legal.
“As a nation, we have the obligation to receive distraught individuals and families with welcome, compassion and humane treatment,” the bishops added.
Some, including people here in Louisville, are doing what they can to receive these families. They are taking asylum-seeking families into their homes. They are meeting them at bus stations to offer snacks, coats and small toys for the children. They are offering free therapy and other services.
Let us make room for them in our lives and prayers.
Wishing you a holy Christmas, centered on Christ and his people.