The Greatest Blessing
A NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: Rooted in Christmas wonder at the gift of the Christ Child, we reflect on the blessings and challenges of 2022.
As we prepare for the joyful celebration of Christmas with family and friends, it’s a good time to reflect back on the events of this year — and to consider some of the blessings and challenges that we have encountered as Catholic Americans over the course of 2022.
At the legal and political level, there’s no doubt that the year’s greatest blessing was the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Ever since an earlier Supreme Court wrongly held that abortion is a federal constitutional right, Roe stood as a deadly legal obstacle curtailing pro-life efforts to roll back the abortion scourge that has claimed the lives of more than 60 million unborn babies in the United States since 1973.
Now that Roe has been overturned, abortion law has been returned to the authority of individual states, and many of them have already moved to sharply reduce the scope of legal abortion. Over time, the entire nation will come to understand the truth and justice of the pro-life cause. In the public square, it is impossible to imagine a greater Christmas present than this, and we can be profoundly grateful Dobbs has opened the door to this opportunity.
But we also know that we’re far from accomplishing our goal. The subsequent defeat of several pro-life state ballot initiatives in the second half of 2022 was a pointed reminder, if one was needed, that far too many of our fellow Americans continue to be deceived by the false arguments that have been circulated for decades by the abortion lobby. Sadly, a substantial percentage of Catholics are among those who have been led astray, including President Joe Biden.
This reality is a challenge culturally, politically and legally. Going forward, we must continue our efforts to counter the false claims of pro-abortion ideologues, to work tirelessly on behalf of pro-life initiatives and candidates in the political arena and to support the pro-life side whenever and wherever our cause returns to the nation’s courts.
Above all, though, it’s an evangelical challenge. The lasting conversion of hearts and minds that’s required in order to build a civilization of love and a culture of life will be realized only through a joyful proclamation of our Christian faith. Pope Francis reminds us of this in his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), when he writes, “With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” He goes on to say, “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since ‘no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.’”
Another blessing we can consider is the faithful witness of Catholics in public life. A wonderful example took place this Advent, when newly elected Michigan state Rep. Jim DeSana organized a Dec. 7 Eucharistic procession on the grounds of the state Capitol in Lansing.
It’s likely that DeSana and the other participating members of his local parish were inspired to undertake their Eucharistic witness by the three-year National Eucharistic Revival that is now unfolding at the parish level across the nation. The revival, which will continue through 2024, is another of this year’s most prominent blessings. Countless graces will be bestowed upon all of the faithful who renew their love and reverence for the Eucharist. Again, we can reflect on the words of Pope Francis, “We find this in the Eucharistic Bread — the attention of Christ to our needs and the invitation to do the same toward those who are beside us.”
The renewal of Eucharistic devotion in our nation is certain to inspire innumerable acts of love and service to others, as an authentic love of the Person of Jesus always does, starting within our own families and friends and extending outward to every person in need.
Christmas always reminds us that our faith is about a Person — Jesus Christ. At a time when many have not returned to Mass after the pandemic, we can reflect on what has the greatest potential for bringing people back to a closer relationship with him. The parish programs we have going all year-round, and the charity drives that are particularly prominent at this time of year, are important in themselves. But what has a distinct power to bring people back home to the faith are the personal relationships that invite others to join in our continuing Christian journey with Our Lord and Savior.
Most of all, it’s crucial to remember what really matters at this time of year: keeping our focus on the Infant Jesus, the only Son of God, who, for our eternal salvation, entered into the world more than 2,000 years ago, poor and helpless, in a humble manger in Bethlehem.
“From the moment of his birth, he belongs outside the realm of what is important and powerful in worldly terms,” Pope Benedict XVI comments in his book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. “Yet it is this unimportant and powerless child that proves to be the truly powerful one, the one on whom ultimately everything depends. So one aspect of becoming a Christian is having to leave behind what everyone else thinks and wants, the prevailing standards, in order to enter the light of the truth of our being, and aided by that light to find the right path.”
May the light of this upcoming Christmas season be our sure guide on the path that lies ahead for all of us, in 2023 and beyond.
God bless you!
- publisher's note
- michael warsaw
- Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization
- eucharistic revival