An advent of darkness, dragons and the midnight Son
Advent message from Father Rick Frechette, CP, D.O.
Dear family and friends,
We are living in a dark age.
But as true as there is darkness, it is also wondrously true that there is light.
“The darkness will not darken from you, and the night will shine like the day.”
A dark age can provoke the dawn of enlightenment, and the interplay between darkness and light will set before us the choice for evil or good, curse or blessing.
Amid thick psychological and spiritual tangles, we choose which to see, curse or blessing, and then our vision determines our choice.
Our choices either invigorate life, or invite the pall of death.
The Advent season invites us to face darkness head on,
and to ponder the dynamics that are even deeper than our own choices.
The first is that as truly as we choose, we are also being chosen.
“What you are looking for is looking for you.”
The powers of good and the powers of evil are in pursuit of us, seeking us out with passion, in bitter contest.
We must be enormously valuable in the drama of life for this to be the case.
Our incredible value comes from being both created, and then redeemed, by God.
From the many influences on our choices, some apparent and some mysterious,
what we finally choose comes from either the goodness or the perversion we treasure in our hearts.
Then flow from within us, as either blessings or curses, our thoughts, our words, our deeds.
For many people who seek God, who seek enlightenment,
the journey begins when life seems dark, cold, and threatening.
Thus begins a thirst for God, which is immediately met by God’s gracious and merciful thirst for us, because God was already seeking us.
The spiritual path is an encounter, a duet.
“He found them in a wilderness, *
a wasteland of howling desert.
He shielded them and cared for them, *
guarding them as the apple of his eye.”
Here in Haiti, as in many other places around the world,
the term “howling wasteland” is a good description for what life is like under gang rule.
Assault weapons inflict massive wounds on countless people, terrorize the population, cause the most painful deaths, mauled cadavers, refugees fleeing every direction, despair on all levels, and no escape.
It’s a good description of hell.
The gates of hell would slam shut the day not another single bullet could cross the border into Haiti.
The tens of thousands of assault weapons could then be melted down and used to build a bridge over the Grey River.
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Within the last days, we were called once again onto the streets of our neighborhood for yet another victim of brutal violence.
The vicious and barbaric death of an unknown young woman.
It’s one thing to read reports of increase in violence against women.
It is quite something else when the victim is right in front of you.
What is left of her fills every one of your senses.
By her presence, by her very weight as you carefully lift her body, she refuses her place on a page of dry statistics.
Statics touch none of your senses.
Not even common sense.
For those of us present, everything around us suddenly became dark and cold. There was a clear, yet unheard howling.
The darkness had nothing to do with the sun.
The coldness had nothing to do with temperature.
The howling was the scorn of satan, the vile force that trashes life and dignity,
and which, in true parasitic fashion, can only become real when a person, such as her killer, or you or me, accepts to be its agent.
We tried to pray, the Passionist seminarians and I.
The words came easily thanks to memory, which is an anchor when in such anguished distraction.
The prayers crossed our lips, but our eyes scanned the crowd, wondering if the killer was present.
There were questions to answer for the police and justice of the peace, in between psalms.
My mind wandered to her family, wondering how to find and inform them, since there was no identification on her person.
All the while, I felt on the nape of my neck the filthy breath of a vile beast I could not see, grunting and snorting,
which I hoped was some imagination generated by my own adrenalin in overdrive.
I deliberately summoned these words to that dark place:
“I, John, saw an angel come down from heaven,
holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain.
He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent,
which is the Devil or Satan,
and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss,
which he locked over it and sealed,
so that it could no longer lead the nations astray
until the thousand years are completed.”(Revelations 20:1-3)
We still believe in angels. They light up the darkness.
We believe we will see victory against this darkness.
14 “For when peaceful stillness encompassed everything
and the night in its swift course was half spent,
15 Your all-powerful Word from heaven’s royal throne
leapt into the doomed land.” (Wisdom 18:14-15)
Angels make our choices for life, and our fight for the living, easy.
They drive us to be the counter-witness to terror, by honoring the illuminated souls
of the dead, by seeking out the vulnerable and bringing them to safety.
Angels fill the night skies, especially at Christmas.
May their music be a cause of wonder for you.
May this Christmas nourish hope in your heart and soul, and gift you with abiding peace.
May your new year be blessed by God.
Thank you for your precious and ongoing support in such times of need.
Father Rick Frechette, CP, D.O.
December 12, 2022
NPH Haiti was co-founded by Father William Wasson and Father Rick Frechette, CP, D.O., in 1987. Father Rick has worked in Haiti ever since. Seeing the scarcity of health care, he became a doctor in 1989, and ran NPH’s St. Damien Pediatric Hospital for many years. Today, he serves as an advisor to NPH.