Christmas is a challenging time for many people, but for those facing serious illness the time can be unbearable. The message of Christ at Christmas can be very empty for those alone.   As part of our outreach ministry, we visit the sick.  We are available for you or a family member.  Let us know if we can help.

In this time of new beginnings, remember that God loves you beyond your wildest imagining.  Here are a few reminders from the Hebrew Bible:
  • I am a God of love and mercy (Deuteronomy 4;31) 
  • My thoughts are not your thoughts; nor are your ways, my ways. (Isaiah 55:8)
  • The Lord is kind and patient and his love never fails (Psalm 103:8)
  • The Lord is close to those whose hearts have been broken.  He saves those whose spirits have been crushed. (Psalms 34:18)
Have a prayer request?  Let up pray for you:  www.ANCCPrayer.org
 
 
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

-- Steve Jobs, Commencement Address, Stanford University (June 14, 2005)
 
 
2:00 a.m.

I just left hospice exhausted after a long day with previous visits, teaching, and a wonderful working dinner with our national dean.

Just after dropping our dean at the hotel, I retrieved a voice message from a family whose sister had finally passed away – released from a body that was so hurt, so broken by disease and anxiety.  I am reminded by my partner’s father’s advice to me at the passing of my own father, “Bill, there are some things worse than living.”  

I was able to spend time with the family, helping with funeral arrangements and praying together – reminding us that God-with-us is present in the midst of the exhaustion of the dying vigil and the first steps of grief.

As I walked across the early winter leaves turned ashen to my jeep, I reminded myself that this is his ministry; I’m just a talent agent representing someone so exquisite.   I felt a prayer in me, not just to decrease but to melt away – to disappear in God and in his love. 

Even in our pain, in the scandal of the Cross, there is the sunlight of a living God peeking in and inviting us into himself.
 
 
Our thoughts and prayers go out for the repose of the soul of Brother James Kelly, C.F.X. an Xaverian Brother and President of Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore.   The followin is his final message to the School community.

My Dear Alumni, Present and Past Parents, Students and Friends of Mount Saint Joseph: 

For the past five and a half years, the Mount Saint Joseph Community has “prayed me through” my journey with cancer. I have known since I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic prostate cancer three years ago, that what I have is treatable but not curable. I have given cancer a very good fight, but as I always knew, it is a fight I am not going to win. I can say with Saint Paul, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4) I love Saint Jerome’s Latin for this passage, “Bonum certamen certavi. Cursum consumavi et fidem servavi.” The Latin noun certamen and the Latin verb certavi suggest not just a fight but a wrestling match. And I have certainly wrestled with the “big boys” of chemotherapy: 5FU, Oxaliplatin, Taxotere and Cabazitaxel for a total of 25 infusions in 3 different cycles. 

At their meeting in October, I informed the Board of Directors that they need to begin a search for my successor. If I am still alive at the beginning of the next school year (and I pray that I am not), I will be so debilitated as to be not at all capable of running a school. There comes a point in cancer when you know that you have just had enough. Three weeks before she died, Miss Kraft and I had a conversation in which she said to me, “I am just so tired. I don’t want to continue treatment.” I knew exactly what she was talking about, and I knew I would come to that point as well. I have had every drug and therapy they can find at Johns Hopkins. If they find anything else new, I will not take it. I am at peace and ready for the journey to end. 

When I say that I hope I am dead by the end of this school year, it is because I have a foolish wish to die as the President of Mount Saint Joseph like three of my confreres before me: Brother Joseph Sullivan (1903), Brother James Gerrity (1922) and Brother Antoninus Jaquay (1925). It’s just one of my Xaverian quirks! I believe quite firmly that suffering is redemptive, and on my best days, I realize that it is a privilege to share in Christ’s passion. As Saint Paul also writes, “I make up in my body what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.” Somehow my illness fits into God’s plan, a plan that will only be revealed to me when I see God face to face.

Sincerely, 

Brother James M. Kelly, C.F.X. President