ADVENT PASTORAL LETTER, 2013
Dearly Beloved in Christ,
Perhaps you who are not old enough to remember World War II have nevertheless heard, along with us older folks, the words to a song popularized by Vera Lynn and Vaughn Monroe: “When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World.” Such spirited music and words enabled people, especially in England where the “blitz” was a day to day experience for the British people, to be filled with the hope of a new day.
We in this country now need to be revitalized by something that will lift our spirits again, give us a sense of hope, animate our lives spiritually, mentally and physically. The picture which I painted a year ago in my letter to you was certainly one of gloom; and rightly so! We had just experienced the bitterest election in our nation’s history. Our country’s morality was at its lowest ebb; our people’s spirit was filled with pessimism, our nation’s coffer was nearly completely spent. While that image today looks no better, either at home or abroad, the picture in my mind’s eye of those lights being sung about in that song by three obscure musical artists some seventy years ago, gives me a sense of optimism. I believe that springs from my abiding faith in a patient God, from my strong faith in my Church, and from a deeply seated love for my country – for your country.
The lights are going on all over the world now, as so many of us begin to string our Christmas lights for the coming festival of our Saviour’s birth. They are signs of hope, as we again display the image of the outstretched arms of our Infant King in our churches and homes. To be sure, that image is being forbidden more and more in our public squares, schools and even in our non-government affiliated places – the last because of that lingering “political correctness” that erodes the real spirit of Americanism; the sense of fair play that we Americans have for one another, in spite of the hundreds of injudicious rulings of our courts favoring too many abusers of that sense of fair play and the loss of the inherent dignity of the soul that underlies the true worth of this great nation.
Sad to say, it appears things will get much worse before they get better. We must, however, remember that Jesus Christ tells each of us, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” (Matt., 5: 16) The burden on us Christians is greater that ever before. We must swallow hard during these almost daily attacks on our holy faith, especially by the ever-growing departments and “czars” foisted upon us by our government. We must remember that we are the representatives of Jesus Christ and His Church. It is NOT becoming for us to behave as those who are abusing our Faith and practices.
We must remain Christ-like – not exactly “turning the other cheek,” for we are not turning our cheek to a neighbor, but to a government that is becoming more tyrannical each day. Our “warfare” must continue to be prayer and the mightiness of the pen. We must not be afraid to raise our voices – indeed, our very Faith requires us to do so in the face of immorality; but we must do so with dignity and decorum. We are the children of God. God’s voice is strong, but never unbecoming, never bitter or sanguine. We must be the imitators of Him in whatever we do. We will do more harm than good if we act as our enemy acts. That enemy rants and raves and points fingers constantly at those it hates. We must continue to point with the finger of love, to admonish with firmness but tenderness, keeping in our hearts our Blessed Lord’s greatest admonition to each of us, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matt, 11:29) This is not a mere suggestion of our Lord’s. He puts teeth into those words. He is talking about our burdens, our being burdened, our being put upon. But he tells us plainly, that if we do behave as He behaves, we “shall find rest in [our] souls.” (Ibid.)
With every good wish and prayerful blessing to you and yours, I am faithfully yours in Christ,
S/ + John J. Humphreys
The Most Reverend John J. Humphreys, Archbishop
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