Dante described the inscription over the gates of hell: “Abandon Every Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.” And though the eternal torments of hell associated with the rejection of God are incomparable with any suffering in this life, there is an appropriate expression that reveals the worst that this life can bring: “Hell on Earth.” The key distinction between the two types of hell? Despite the anguish of “hell on earth,” there is always the possibility, even if remote, of relief, comfort and hope

The original title for this post was, “My Christmas Wish List” — and it still applies because my list this year is not about getting something, but about giving something. If you were to ask me what I want for Christmas, I would ask you to give hope to those who are suffering a kind of hell on earth and those who are regularly in the business of helping people out of hell and into heaven.

At the very top of my wish list is the desire that you would join with me and my family in helping our brothers and sisters suffering in the Philippines. I suspect for most of those directly harmed by the storm that this Christmas will be the worst of their lives. My wife and I have decided to forgo gifts to one another and instead give that money to those who have far greater need than we could ever imagine. Please join us and many thousands of others who can’t give enough individually, but who together can offer some real hope to those who are suffering in a way we will likely never know.

Catholic Relief Services - www.crs.org

Aid to the Church in Need - www.churchinneed.org

Cross Catholic International - www.crosscatholic.org

In addition to helping these important organizations that are providing aid to our friends and family in the Philippines, I round out my Christmas wish list by asking you to consider support for the following, as we wind down this giving season:

EWTN and the National Catholic Register: There is no organization, other than the Church itself, that teaches the truth of God’s saving power to more people in the world. Every dollar helps to reach millions with the Gospel. www.NCRegister.com/donate

Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious: Many of you are unaware of this exemplary organization that was established to aid the welfare of those women religious who, like Mother Angelica and EWTN, have never lowered the banner of faithfulness to Christ and the magisterium of his Church. They have all given their lives to the service of the Church. They pray, they teach, they serve the poor and the afflicted; they live and demonstrate to us what it means to give all to Christ. They deserve our support and fidelity. You can find them at www.CMSWR.org

You, as Catholics, are among the most giving people in the world. This year, even with a struggling economy, millions need help with the basic necessities, and millions need to know the love of God as lived and given on our behalf in Christ. Please be generous. We all really do need your help in order to do what we do.