These times we are currently living in have challenged our faith to say the least. Most recently the headlines that have graced our phones, TVs and social media feeds have mostly been heartbreaking and very discouraging. We have seen acts of hate that are beyond our comprehension. We have seen senseless tragic endings to young people’s lives and crimes being committed that are unfathomable. We have seen devastating weather, insensitive behavior by the famous and uneasy relations between world nations. Sometimes it seems as though our prayers are not being heard and quite frankly as though maybe the world really has gone mad. It is hard to feel like it is going to be okay.
As I take a look back over this past year I too have faced personal challenges and have had to accept my share of losses. I have lived difficult moments and not so pleasant occasions where things just got a bit tough to put it frankly. Like many of us, I understand the pain caused by change and loss. Sometimes it is hard not to feel a little worn down.
Despite this though I am oddly more hopeful today than I think ever. I guess you could say my optimism is in my newfound perspective or my realignment of my priorities to fit into what God has planned for me. Or I could just be an overly optimistic fool that can only see the silver lining.
Seriously though, my work here at the Rio Grande Catholic and The Bridge Radio and the work I have been able to see in my Diocesan family has given me a sense that our faith, although not perfect, is at work diligently and for the good of all its faithful.
There exists relentless efforts by so many individuals committed to doing God’s work daily and I believe this is what keeps me hopeful. Individuals working to glorify God and lead others to heaven like the Nuns of Perpetual Adoration that pray continuously for our salvation. There exists our women religious doing God’s work by choosing to say yes to God and not to mention our diocesan priests and men religious from many different orders also doing God’s work as they are committed to live their calling.
I have felt encouraged by having the privilege of getting to learn more about our seminarians as they prepare themselves to be signs of Christ in our communities. I have witnessed remarkable acts of fundraising from our parishes and our Catholic schools to help hurricane victims in Texas and earthquake victims in Mexico. It has been inspiring and an honor to work with ministries and other organizations that act as advocates for life, the poor, the migrant and the marginalized.
I have had the uplifting opportunity to see faith in action by interacting with several parish staffs about church events and church bazaars that celebrate our faith and our culture. I went out to visit some of El Paso’s highest attended events during this summer’s Kermes/Bazaar season and saw thousands gathered at Catholic Church celebrations.
Weekly I got a dose of energy when we visited with our Catholic youth and young adults from parish youth ministries celebrating God and life. I have been uplifted by working with our exceptional Catholic schools making their difference for the future of our faith by providing outstanding Catholic faith based education. And who can overlook a most inspiring moment recently when Nike (yes Nike, the world’s most recognized athletic brand) documented the international heritage of success our Cathedral High School has earned.
Everyday I am honored to get to work alongside some of the most brilliant lay people working for God as ministry directors and staff at the diocese and at our parishes. We are blessed to work for and have a Bishop that is brave enough to take a stand for all of God’s people, even when it is not popular to do so. Every month I put together a newspaper for the thousands that read it with the contributions of so many of these individuals working out in the field spreading the Good News. Daily I see hope resonate with our social media audience as they interact with us and with each other about God and their faith.
These are just a handful of examples of the works and workers of faith that surround our community and me. How can we feel anything but inspired, encouraged and hopeful?
It is the time of year when we welcome the coming of our Christ the Lord and it is a time to celebrate his arrival. Even if the troubles we face as a people of God on this Earth seem to overshadow the good works of so many, our faith tells us that it is in these times when waters are rough that we should cling even more closely to God. Looking back at this year, this Christmas I am reminded that no matter what happens around us or to us, God’s Word is alive, true and faithful.