Words from Our Principal
Dear Families and Friends of Lumen,
This week marks the first week of the Advent season – a season in which we prepare to welcome the God made flesh Who forgives and redeems us from our sins.
When a journalist asked Pope Francis, in his first interview after becoming Pope: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” the newly-elected Pope replied: “I am a sinner.” Bishop Robert Barron, in his Advent meditations from The Word Became Flesh, writes: “We will never be adequately prepared for the coming of the Savior unless and until we feel in our bones that there is something we need to be saved from.” Unless we know ourselves to be sinners who need to be saved from our sin, we will never be ready to accept Christ as our Savior. Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Savior – thus, it seems, Advent is and ought to be a time to become more deeply aware of our sinfulness.
This is a deeply unpopular notion in today’s culture. I had a non-Christian friend tell me she was worried about sending her child to Catholic school because she feared that they would instill “Catholic guilt” into her child. As Bishop Barron writes, our “culture instructs us in a thousand ways to affirm our guiltlessness.” Yet how misguided this is! If we had a physical injury or illness – a broken bone or a cancer – the rational thing to do is go to the doctor, who has the tools, training, and knowledge necessary to heal us. How much more so for our spiritual injuries and illnesses – how much more do we need to go to the Divine Physician and His ministers (the Church and her sacraments) for healing.
It’s no coincidence, I think, that in Scripture Jesus’s physical healings are almost always accompanied by an acknowledgment of sin (see, for instance, the healing of the paralytic in Mark 2). I don’t think Jesus meant to suggest that physical illness is caused by personal moral sin, but I do think he meant to demonstrate a symbolic parallel. And the fact that He often addressed a person’s moral sinfulness (“Your sins are forgiven”) before He addressed their physical ailment (“Get up, take your mat, and walk!”) seems to also suggest that attending to our spiritual illnesses should take precedence over curing our physical injuries.
Perhaps, then, seeing our sinfulness in terms of the illness and cure – of brokenness and healing – might lower our resistance to the work of the Divine Physician. Allowing Christ to enter our wounded hearts, allowing Him to reveal and diagnose to us the ways in which our souls are sick and injured, and trusting Him to heal us – perhaps this is the task Advent sets before us. It is a difficult task, requiring great virtue, courage, and humility, and our reluctance to embark on it is, itself, a sign of brokenness that we can offer to Christ for healing as we pray for the Lord to show us our sins. Yet, once it is begun, it is also incredibly easy, liberating, and consoling: as Christ tells us, “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”
And so, as strange as it may be to say, this week I pray that the Lord strengthen you all this Advent to do what Bishop Barron calls the “real Advent work” of “com[ing] to grips with how lost we are, how hardened our hearts have become, and how we have stirred up God’s anger.” And I pray, too, that you may all experience the grace and consolation that come with allowing your hearts and souls to be touched by the curing hands of the Divine Healer.
May God bless your Advent!
Pax et bonum,
“It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.”
– Pope Benedict XVI
Math class during a recent in-person day at Lumen! Students learn virtually three days a week and meet in person twice a week.