One could be forgiven for feeling a little gloomy in this time of shortening days, as the sky becomes dark by late afternoon. It’s not the only reason for a dimming outlook on the world, if not a sense of dread.

Last week’s deadly attacks in Mumbai, India showed that shadowy terrorist groups remain active around the world. Prevalent also is a smoldering climate of violence that flares up too often in regions such as central Africa (see current print edition of the CS&T for international coverage), Iraq, Mexico and in the neighborhoods of American cities, especially here in our own backyard.

A report ordered by Congress this week called a terror attack using nuclear or biological weapons on American cities likely within the next several years.

The worsening U.S. economy, now officially labeled in recession for the past year, is causing anxiety over whether workers will be able to hold onto their jobs, even as families continue looking at how to cut back their spending into the uncertain future.

These concerns and many more do raise fears, yet paradoxically they come during a time of hope. The Church celebrates the season of Advent and calls us, as the priest prays at every Mass, to “wait with joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” His birth 2,000 years ago as One fully human and fully spanine marked the beginning of our redemption.

The Church re-creates the mystery of God-become-man in Jesus through its sacred liturgies. One of these, the Liturgy of the Hours, is the ancient set of daily prayers prayed by clergy and consecrated religious, but also increasingly in our time by lay people as well.

During this Advent, each of us can serve our brothers and sisters by showing them the light of Christ residing in us, and by our personal prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours each day. Ask for the prayer books at a Catholic bookstore or even pray with online resources such as

The opening prayer of the Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent serves as an apt reminder that current anxieties will ultimately give way to the light of Christ: “Father in heaven, the day draws near when the glory of your Son will make radiant the night of the waiting world. May the lure of greed not impede us from the joy which moves the hearts of those who seek Him. May the darkness not blind us to the vision of wisdom which fills the mind of those who find Him. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.”