The number of empty chairs in the high school classroom startled me until I remembered many of the school’s young people were on a bus heading to Indianapolis for NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference). This three-day experience of dynamic speakers, praise and worship music, and newfound friendship draws over twenty thousand teens from throughout the country. The weekend culminates on Sunday morning when Lucas Oil Football Stadium transforms into the house of the Lord, with thousands of young people receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and rejoicing in His presence. This mountaintop encounter awakens teens to a deeper faith. As I observed the few students remaining in their classroom, some sleeping on their desktop, I wondered how many would regret skipping NCYC. There is nothing worse than failing to do the work, missing the bus, sleeping through an opportunity—of being left behind.
“Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.” President Ronald Reagan’s son smirked at the end of his commercial on behalf of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.* Really? Not afraid of burning in hell? Though startling, not surprising as our culture has become increasingly secular. But this is not the first nor the last time that a culture, government, or individual has mocked Jesus Christ.
A young woman’s eyes turned misty as she spoke of her grandfather’s death: “Though I’ll miss him terribly, I’m at peace because he’s been waiting to be with my grandmother since the day she died. They were married for sixty years and now they’re dancing in heaven!” What a sweet sentiment, but will they? Is it true?
After speaking with a priest about the losses and struggles I’ve experienced this past year, he inquired gently: “Are you through the dark valley?” I replied, “I think so.” Later, as I reflected on his question, I recognized all the ways God had worked through family, friends, and even chance meetings throughout the year. I realized I was truly blessed and my heart overflowed with thanksgiving!
In the middle of death and violence, the prophet Habakkuk cries out: “How Long, O Lord, How Long?” The prophet, speaking on behalf of God, then responds to the desperate plea of God’s chosen: “Write down the vision; Make it plain upon tablets, so that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is a witness for the appointed time, a testimony to the end; it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.” The vision is for justice, peace, redemption, and salvation. We set our vision on Heaven and the kingdom of Heaven on earth.
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.