Starting Point
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Issue Date:  December 17, 2004

Starting Point


As I observed my Muslim brothers and sisters ending their Ramadan fast, I decided to be more intentional about preparing for Christmas this year. Nov. 15, I attended the Moleben service to begin the 40-day Phillipian Fast that precedes the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity in my Byzantine Catholic church. This fast is voluntary and non-obligatory -- a period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Returning home following the service, I was in a car accident. I was injured and taken to the trauma hospital, my chest and body sore and in pain -- feeling crushed and knocked down. I had a hard time sleeping as visions of the accident replayed when my eyes would close. Perhaps because Fallujah was under attack and in the news, I found myself there. I was a civilian and I was a soldier; a child, a father, a brother, a friend and a lover.

I had become anesthetized to the reality of war and conflict. Comfortably numb. I was awakened in my hospital bed where intellect, imagination and experience merged. The horrible thud of two cars colliding became the thud of bombs, bullets, maiming, and killing. I felt the pain there and elsewhere in God’s world.

My personal physical pain will continue to subside. And as pain fades, so does memory. I write this down quickly, then, so I will not forget the distress of your people around the world. I write this down quickly, as I again fear seduction by glitter, glitz and lies.

I am so sorry for offending you in this way. Thank you for this opportunity of awareness. Help me to stay conscious, alert and attentive so I can resist the temptation of tinsel, leading only to an easy and empty joy. Forgive us our individual and corporate sins, for they are many. Lead us to your wisdom and light. Come, Emmanuel!

Ed Horvat, a secular Franciscan, is a chaplain at a community hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.

National Catholic Reporter, December 17, 2004

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