Brian Saint Paul at Inside Catholic (which you surely want to visit daily) sent this picture my way; I call it the “photo of the day.”
When I think of our soldiers, so far away from home, missing their loved ones and wondering with longing whether they’re being missed with the same intensity, I consider it be something like the “dark night of the soul” that many holy people experience.
The dark night is not about doubt. Indeed, I suspect it is an effect of having loved so greatly:
And for those who have given it all, have allowed themselves to be used up until they literally have nothing left to give, it seems to me that such dark nights would be unavoidable. I think our human capacity to love can only take us so far, and when we have reached the point where our love for God exceeds our ability to actually feel and comprehend and identify “love” – that’s when these saints see desperate days. My guess is they have simply transcended where human love can take them, but haven’t the tools to fully know “divine” love, and so they’re trapped in something unidentifiable and unknown – a place where they simply have to go on faith. [. . .]
[Mother Teresa’s experience] is analogous to the experience of a soldier who leaves a lover behind to go to war. Sure in the fidelity of the one whom his heart loves, he slogs through a long war, often with little-to-no contact with his beloved, but still believing in her, still doing his duty in faith and hope, while enduring the sort of loneliness and grief of which we can only guess. “I’m here, do you still love me? I keep going by believing that you do; when will you write? When will I hear from you?”The Dark Night of the Soul is not about doubt; it is about enduring, faithful, slavish love.
Amidst what snatches of comfort and joy our soldiers can take among their comrades, their separation from family at this time of year must ache as keenly as any dark night. Let us offer up a prayer of particular consolation, for their sakes, and for all who are away from their families because of illness, incarceration, finances, rifts, that they find warmth in the light of God-With-Us, Emmanuel, the Christ; Jesus, the ever-faithful friend of our loneliest hours.
Ed Morrissey has a “Merry Christmas” for the troops”
A few Christmas links:
Deacon Greg: When Christmas wasn’t a dirty word on television
Lileks and Music
the dating of Christmas