Father Chet, December 1991. Father Chet opened the letter noting that he was “three-quarters of a century old” and that the following April would be the celebration of his Golden Jubilee. He invited all to save the date, writing, “If you have participated in any way in my priesthood, I would love to have you join me in giving gratitude to God for these past 50 years of priestly ministry.”
Recently, I have been studying the ecological and environmental crisis which is facing us today. Yet, we are told by the prophet Isaiah (62.4), with the coming of the Messiah, “No more shall men call you ‘Forsaken’ or your land ‘Desolate,’ but you shall be called ‘My Delight,’ and your land ‘Espoused,’ for the Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse” (Christmas Vigil Mass). We believe that the Messiah came to earth 2000 years ago. How then do we explain what seems to be happening to the earth today? Somehow, we have failed to heed the challenge given us by God and by the coming of Jesus the Messiah.
Environmentalists tell us that the high standard of living which we Americans now enjoy is the major cause of the desecration of planet Earth. Perhaps one of the messages of the birth of Jesus in a humble stable in Bethlehem is a call to a simpler lifestyle. Is this then not a fitting time for us to begin to consider how we can live more simply?
Honoring the Incarnation of God upon earth calls for a celebration during the season, but it does not have to be an expensive one. Many of us who are older think back to our childhood Christmases and recall them as a memorable time; but yet, they probably did not involve a large outlay of money and an abundance of things. Let us begin this advent to live a simpler lifestyle by finding a way to celebrate Christmas that will help the world’s environment rather than harm it by senselessly depleting our natural resources. Christmas wrappings, which quickly add to our piles of waste, might be omitted. Instead of expensive, manufactured gifts, perhaps something homemade or handmade may just as adequately express our love and appreciation of loved ones. Instead of another sweater or shirt, consider a card which states that you have donated to the poor or some environmental group in that person’s name.
The money crunch which so many American families are now experiencing will leave them no choice but to simplify their Christmas celebration this year. Again, think of your local food bank and the needy as you allocate your spending. Even those who can afford to spend generously should consider seriously the call of God to change habits of reckless buying of non-essentials.
At this Christmas time may our hearts be filled with gratitude to God for all He has given us in this gift of The Earth and The Messiah. Let us resolve to honor Him by preserving, guarding, and loving His precious gifts of Nature, Life, and Love to us.
May God continue to bless and keep you throughout the coming year!
These messages from Father Chet are his original writing and reflect his thoughts, insights and wisdom. While there may be some edits for clarity and/or intention, his meaning remains intact — and timeless.