December 13, 2021
Catholic Charities Advent Reflection:
Having been named Lucio, I grew up very aware of my patron saint, Saint Lucy. It was difficult, however, as I was the only boy in my Catholic grade school class who had a female patron saint. I was teased and often called Lucy. I learned early that sometimes one might face ridicule and persecution for their faith. Every December 13th, my mom put out holy cards with a photo of Saint Lucy holding a plate with two eyes in it. I was told the story of how she gave a Roman official her own eyes rather than being unfaithful to a vow she had made to God; yet another example of suffering for one’s faith. The tradition says that Lucy was miraculously given a new set of eyes afterwards!
My name, like Lucia or Lucy, is taken from the Italian, luce, which translates light. It is certainly a fitting image for the Advent season. And do we not need a new set of eyes to see the world as God would have us see it?
We need to see the real suffering and struggles of so many in our country and world. Even as the economy is said to be recovering, many in our own country are still facing evictions, homelessness, food insecurity, gun violence in their neighborhoods, and the loss of love ones to opioid overdoses. And in countless parts of the world, people lack access to Covid vaccines, not to mention the growing numbers of displaced persons and the potential reality of famine due to civil unrest. It’s hard to see all this, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of God’s children!
But we must also see God’s vision for the world. So many of our Advent scriptures speak of this vision of peace, justice, harmony, and of the abundance of all those things necessary for a dignified life available to all. It is perhaps in that gap between God’s vision for the world and the reality of the world as it is, where our mission as a Church, through its organized efforts of love in Catholic Charities, happens every day.
I’d like to conclude with a prayer by the late Fr. Henry Nouwen:
Give me eyes to see. I know there is light in the darkness that makes everything new. I know there is new life in suffering that opens a new earth for me. I know there is a joy beyond sorrow that rejuvenates my heart. Yes, Lord, I know that you are, that you act, that you love, that you indeed are Light, Life, and Truth.
Let me then see. Let me be so taken by what you show me and by what you say to me that your vision becomes my guide in life and impart meaning to all my concerns.
Let me see what is really real, and let me have the courage to keep unmasking the endless unrealities, which disturb my life every day. Now I see only in a mirror, but one day, O Lord, I hope to see you face to face. Amen.
Deacon Lucio Caruso is Pastoral Ministry Director for St. Ignatius Parish in Louisville, Kentucky. Saint Ignatius is a multi-cultured faith community.