Saint Ambrose and Pearl Harbor

First, let’s not forget the brave men and women who serve and have served in our armed forces.  Today we remember especially those who lost their lives on that day that lives in infamy, when we were brutally attacked at Pearl Harbor.  May they rest in peace.

This anniversary reminds us that the world was and is a dangerous place.  It was dangerous in 1941, it’s even more dangerous in 2010.  It was also dangerous in the 4th century, the time of Saint Ambrose.  Today is Ambrose’ feast day.  I think his comments writing to someone who had just become a bishop are very relevant today.  He wrote:

“You have entered upon the office of bishop.  Sitting at the helm of the Church, you pilot the ship against the waves.  Take firm hold of the rudder of faith so that the severe storms of this world cannot disturb you.  The sea is mighty and vast, but do not be afraid, for as Scripture says ‘He has founded it upon the seas, and established it on the waters.’

“The Church of the Lord is built upon the rock of the apostles among so many dangers in the world; it therefore remains unmoved.  The Church’s foundation is unshakable and firm against the assaults of the raging sea.  Waves lash at the Church but do not shatter it.  Although the elements of this world constantly beat upon the Church with crashing sounds, the Church possesses the safest harbor of salvation for all in distress.”


The Second Monday of Advent

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It’s only natural to think of children in these Advent days. For one thing, we’re all waiting for the coming of a child. No, not just a child: the child. The Son of God. That’s what Advent is all about.

It’s also a special time for all children. We see the joy in their little faces as they anticipate the coming of Santa Claus. Watch them as they discover the bright lights and holiday decorations. They’re in awe of the season. Not burdened by jobs, or bills, or a failing economy, all they see is the wonder of the season. We wish we could share that joy and wonder.

It’s ironic that we begin life with that sense of wonder. Then, somewhere along the line, we lose it. We may not realize it at first, but sooner or later we discover that it’s gone. Then we spend the rest of our lives wishing we could get it back.

The cynic will tell us that you can’t get it back. Reality, or at least their version of reality, won’t allow it. Guess what?! You can get it back. Read what Henri Nouwen wrote in Jesus & Mary: Finding our Sacred Center:

“Mary creates a space for us where we can become children as Jesus became a child…It is precisely this childhood that Mary wants us to claim. She who offered an immaculate space for God to take on human flesh wants to offer us a space where we can be reborn as Jesus was born. With the same heart that loved Jesus, she wants to love us. It is a heart that will not make us wonder anxiously whether we are truly loved. It is a heart that has not been marked by the infidelities of the human race and so will never bring wounds to those who seek peace there.”

Or, as Thomas Merton wrote in Seasons of Celebration:

“If we leave (Mary) out of the Sacrament of Advent we shall never fully penetrate its mystery, since we need to go forth to meet our savior on the same Road by which He came to us.”

Stepping back from all the confusion and stress of our daily lives for a few minutes each day and praying the Rosary is one way to get back in touch with our “inner child” and find some of that wonderful peace that we enjoyed as children.

December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy.

It may seem like a step in the wrong direction to consider the horrible events of Pearl Harbor Day. It was truly a day that will live in infamy. But it was also a day that changed the world. It gave our country the resolve to pull together and lead the Allies to victory both in the Pacific and in Europe.

Everything happens for a reason and much of the freedom and prosperity (Even in the midst of a recession, we’re still the most prosperous nation on the planet.) we enjoy today can be traced back to that fateful day nearly seventy years ago today. God can make something good out of even the worst things.

May God bless the men and women, living and dead, who suffered on that day.