Advent and the Year of Mercy

“For you, O Lord, my soul in stillness waits, truly my hope is in you.”

In this Advent Season, Pope Francis invites the global church to celebrate a Year of Mercy, where we focus on God’s mercy and his powerful presence through compassion and healing in a time of darkness in the world. The church’s ministries are called to reflect the true love and compassion of God, as we understand the Works of Mercy. God’s grace and love flow from person to person through our actions of  mercy, and is transferred to the person who receives that mercy.  But first we must experience God’s mercy ourselves.

Pope Francis’ vision of this Year of Mercy is so appropriate to us at IVC.  The work of our volunteers can be the vehicle of that love and mercy through our service – in all that IVC does in visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger. Each and every one of you – through service, prayer, and generous gifts of time and treasure – brings light, hope, and God’s mercy to the darkness of poverty and suffering in the cities where you serve. I thank you sincerely for that. And as we strive for God’s kingdom of love on earth, we long for more of this transformation as we face the circle of evil and violence in our world and encounter our brothers and sisters in need every day.

As I light the second candle on my Advent wreath, I see a parallel to the light that two Ignatian Volunteers – Eduardo and Bob – bring to refugees at Catholic Charities in Boston. Their story, which you’ll read below, is one of bringing concrete services, compassion and hope to the men, women, and youth they serve. Bringing the light of the newborn Savior to others. Once you read their story, I hope you’ll think of their work and the story they share of Sayid’s life when you light your Advent wreath.

With all the darkness, poverty, violence and suffering that we read in the newspaper and that Ignatian Volunteers encounter daily, there is hope for transformation that comes from the time and love they give.

I was recently with an IVC supporter who told me that she is committed to IVC with her philanthropy because of its blend of spirituality and putting the experience and time of skilled men and women into service. She said she knows that one person can make a difference in addressing poverty and giving people dignity through IVC. She believes in IVC and that through giving financially to IVC and encouraging her friends to do the same, she enables us to bring more light into the darkness.

I am encouraged by her message of how one person can make a difference. I think that, as a member of our community of people serving with and contributing to IVC’s mission, you’ll agree that we all have a critical role to play and our own gifts to give.

At this time of year, I thank you for your involvement with IVC and your spirit of generosity to us! God brings people of light in times of despair.

May it be a very special Advent and a beautiful Christmas Season for you and those you hold dear!