For Christmas one of my friends gave me the “Planet Earth” video series. Every now and then I take the time to watch a segment or two. It truly has been for me a riveting experience. Some of the segments present images that have remained with me for days after watching them.
I still can picture, for example, a mass of emperor penguins in Antarctic temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius all huddling together trying to survive for four months without food, water, or even sunlight. I watched a baby elephant run into a tree because it literally had been blinded in a dust storm – struggling to keep up with a herd that had been marching for months and hundreds of miles to find water.
Then there was a young caribou calf that a wolf had driven from its pack. The narrator explained that the calf was fast and could outrun the wolf – if only it could keep its footing. Can you imagine? Just one misstep, just one stumble would cost the calf its life.
There was one thought that kept coming to my mind as I was watching all of this – nature can be harsh and cruel. This life demands much from us. How hard it is simply to endure.
Then another thought came to mind – thank God for grace and providence and love and all of the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit.
It indeed has been a long harsh winter here in Minnesota. As we have gathered for Mass the past couple of months we have resembled at times those Antarctic penguins huddled together trying to find warmth. I know that many of you are carrying heavy burdens as you come to Mass. This life demands much.
But we never are deprived of holy joy and glad meaning for our lives. We have a God who gives us the grace not merely to endure or to survive but to rise above. We can pass each day with spirits that no matter what still can soar. There is strength and joy in God’s grace.
Keep praying and drawing strength from the sacraments. The Bread of Life really is what He says He is.
Let’s keep urging one another on. Pay attention to somebody who might be struggling or in need of help and offer some assistance or a good word. Be people of hope and good cheer.
Keep warm and Catholic on!