November is Black Catholic History Month, during which we give special recognition to the contributions of Catholics of African descent. Northern Africa had great importance of the early Church, and some of our most well-known saints, including St. Augustine, St. Monica, St. Martin de Porres, St. Felicity, and St. Perpetua, were African or of African descent. Despite the importance of black Catholics throughout Church history, however, African American Catholics have faced discrimination and hardship.
Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus. Although we observe this holy season every year, the question remains baffling: How can we adequately prepare for our Messiah, for the Word made Flesh who came into the world to save us? It’s a tall order, and we know that even the best preparation is only a pittance compared to what Jesus has done and continues to do for us.
There is a common misconception among both Catholics and non-Catholics that Ordinary Time is the “boring” part of the Church’s liturgical year. We are not in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter, and so there is no readily apparent sense or object of anticipation or joy. It can be easy to celebrate during Easter, or to look forward with determination toward Christmas during Advent.
As part of his catechesis on the family at his weekly General Audiences, Pope Francis has spoken about the poor valuing of children in our society. He has decried the commodification of children, saying that they are not "one of many ways to realize oneself in life". He has criticized the view that children are primarily a worry and a burden: "a society...