Just a few months before our wedding, my husband and I attended a retreat for engaged Catholic couples. On so many levels, it was very impactful and really helped prepare us for the vocation of marriage. The amazing priest at this retreat painted a pretty powerful image in our minds – one that we have not forgotten during our life together.
Americans love to root for the home team. We celebrate our nation’s historical heroes and their contributions to the world. As a country, we cheered as our Olympians fought for gold in London last year. We naturally want our own to succeed and be recognized. And we saw this enthusiasm among Catholic Americans when two of our very own North American holy women were canonized saints last year by Pope Benedict XVI. And, of course, this should make us proud.
When I was a child, I was given one of those chocolate Advent calendars. It was explained to me that each day until Christmas, I was allowed one piece of chocolate behind the perforated door. Well, after eating that first piece behind door No. 1, my eyes became fixated on door No. 2. I was tempted, taunted and tortured. If discipline and patience were the intended lessons behind the gift, I was a horrible student. Within an hour after opening the first door, my Advent calendar was reduced to a torn, spent, and empty cardboard box.
A year ago, I prepared a last minute Thanksgiving feast for my husband, kids and myself. In the end, it was a lot of food for just four people and sure enough, we had a lot of leftovers. While I was grateful for God’s bounty, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down at the thought of eating the same thing for the next four days. But letting even a morsel go to waste wasn’t an option, so I improvised that year and lovingly turned those mundane extras into something better.
A Message of HOPE
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” These words of hope articulate Blessed Teresa’s mission, when she was called by Jesus to “serve the poorest of the poor and live among them and like them” in the slums of Calcutta, India. For her, it was more than just giving them food to eat and clothing to wear. It was about making her fellow sisters and brothers feel loved no matter how appalling they may have appeared or in what squalor they lived. She spread a message of hope that they, too, are children of God.
Imagine a young man of noble birth living in the early 16th century in the picturesque Basque region of northern Spain. He is entrenched in the ideals of a romanticized life of knighthood and courting the ladies. He earns the respect of his military peers for his leadership qualities and repeatedly avoids injury and death, battle after battle. Until one day, when a cannonball changes everything.