Have you felt like your heart was breaking this year? Have you felt overwhelmed with the loss? Have you wondered if you can handle much else? Do you feel crushed by this year? It’s the pandemic, it’s the anger, it’s the confusion. All of it. If it’s not you, surely you’ve noticed this is in the air. A tremendous number of people are struggling with this year. Unless we address this, 2021 is going to get harder to take.
On Wednesday, Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., will join me in talking about all of this. One of his many books is Made by Love, Loved by God, which I found such a balm to my soul when I first read it. It’s about real love, the kind that is the reason for Christmas in the first place.
With so much loneliness and uncertainty and sickness and death, I keep thinking of a quote he near begins with from Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical on hope:
The human being lives on truth and on being loved: on being loved by the truth. He needs God, the God who draws close to him, interprets for him the meaning of life, and thus points him toward the path of life.” That drive in us is inescapable.
Because nothing can deceive the human heart. No matter how hard we try to deliver it, douse it, deny it, or divide it, the heart keeps after us, beleaguering us, pestering us as would a little kid to surrender to the Only Thing that would suffice. The heart knows what its needs.
When I’m stuck in the hamster wheel of futile pursuing possessions, pleasure, power, and prestige, the resulting disappointment points me toward my desire–my destiny. I foolishly presume those four p things are not answers….but so often I enlist them as drugs to distract me from The Question: When shall I behold the face of God?
So much of this year, I fear, has been about distractions. Getting crazy about politics. Putting the right sign on the lawn. And not confronting our fear of death and suffering. The best of this year has been people making sacrifices for others. But with places of worship closed, are we growing closer to God, or just the opposite while binge-watching Netflix?
Those are my thoughts toward the end of the year, and since I’m always more hopeful after hearing from Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., I thought you might want to share in our Christmas discussion — as close to Christmas as we could get it before the Masses start. Goodness do we need Christmas — where the Love Who made us starts to become so clear.
Here’s the official write-up:Making Sense of 2020: Made for Love, Loved by God
Coronavirus has quite obviously exacerbated the human misery that was already widespread before the pandemic. It’s on display on the streets. It sure is on social media. Then there are the suicides. So many young people say they considered taking their own lives this year. There must be a better way. Have we fully tried the Gospel way in the world today? Some, perhaps. But if more of us were, wouldn’t it look differently? How can we receive the gift of Christmas in transformational ways this year?
Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., is author of Made for Love, Loved by God. He’s a Dominican priest, currently prior at St. Patrick’s in Columbus, Ohio. He’s also a writer, editor, and frequent teacher of homiletics and speaker, formerly editor of the monthly Magnificat, and author of many other books, including Mysteries of the Virgin Mary: Living Our Lady’s Graces.
He’ll join the National Review Institute’s senior fellow Kathryn Jean Lopez, director of the Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society, in conversation.