Dear Loughlin Family:
Sometimes Christmas seems to come a little early. The Second Sunday of Advent brought me the gift of an early Christmas. I was staying at a friend’s house in the country and it had snowed the previous day and night. That morning there was a sharp and brisk bite to the air. A frosty dry snow coated the rolling hills and the branches of trees. The sun was bright, causing the snow to glisten. The scenic ride to church was a gift and as awe inspiring as any Cathedral. What could be better?
What would Christmas be without a Nativity pageant? After Mass, the boys and girls from the religious education program delivered their finest performances. They were nervous and well prepared readers, adorable angels dressed in white robes with silver garland halos, shepherds in brown garments fresh from the fields, three kings bedecked in decorated robes bearing gifts all centered on Joseph and Mary holding a baby. The church was filled with expectation, nervous parents, and plenty of clicking cameras.
Advent and expectation go hand in hand.
I think of the forty-eight children from Brooklyn hospital who were gifted with presents from the Loughlin community. I know all who participated looked hard to find the gift suggested for the child. On one level, their expectation was fulfilled. On another level, each of us carries a prayer in our heart that the child or children we gifted to will be restored to good health. As I write this Christmas letter, Loughlin students are wrapping the gifts the eight Houses in our student governance system bought for the family each house adopted. I am confident our shoppers and wrappers got it right so these eight families will know that they are cared for and supported by a broader community.
De La Salle meditates on the Christmas story and is struck by the fact that Mary looked for lodging but had to settle in a stable. People did not recognize her for who she was, the mother of the Savior. Rather, the folk were distracted by wealth, and glitter, and importance, or at least the trappings of these things.
De La Salle says Jesus knocks on our heart but we don’t answer because he is “a poor man... a man of sorrows.” I can’t help but think of the students and families who will knock on Loughlin’s door. Families not asking for lodging but asking for a safe place where students learn, are challenged, and have an abundance of opportunity.
I cringe knowing that too many will be turned away from potential opportunities because they will be too poor to meet the cost of this education. The world has not changed all that much.If you haven’t done so already, please consider making a gift that would make a difference.
Christmas brings together such disparate images to note the birth of the Messiah. It is the warm glow that Christmas radiates of family and abundance that I found on the Second Sunday of Advent.Yet Christmas raises the specter of great human needs aching to be met which De La Salle felt keenly. A carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” suggests that “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” After all, the magnitude of God’s gift surpasses our understanding.
May you have a joyful Christmas and a New Year filled with abundant blessings.
Bro. Dennis Cronin, FSC