I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day


Their old familiar carols play,


And wild and sweet the words repeat


Of peace on earth, good will to men.


I thought how, as the day had come,


The belfries of all Christendom


Had rolled along the unbroken song


Of peace on earth, good will to men.


And in despair I bowed my head:


“There is no peace on earth”


For hate is strong and mocks the song


Of peace on earth, good will to men


Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:


God is not dead, nor doth he sleep


The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,


With peace on earth, good will to men.

This familiar hymn, whose lyrics came from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, speaks of the meaning of bells and hope.

Bells play an important part in our lives. They summon us, they awaken us, they remind us, they delight us and sometimes they alarm us.

The start of Advent and the approach of Christmas bring “Christmas bells” to mind, and they bring to mind a key purpose of the season: To summon us to hope.

The prophecies of the coming of the Savior are all about hope. God’s scattered people will be gathered together again, the barren land will bear fruit, the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and God and sinners will be reconciled. He will fill His people with His Spirit, so that they will learn fidelity to His covenant in a new and lasting way.

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The Advent color is purple because that is the color of the sky as it transitions from the dark of night to the brightness of a new day. The coming of Christ heralds a new age for humanity – one of salvation, and indeed of adoption by God as our Father.

And so we begin another Advent under the shadow of the culture of death, as abortion continues to be the single form of violence claiming more lives than anything else, including poverty, disease, drug overdose, terrorism, and war (and yes, as if we had to say so, climate change).

Moreover, those who push the atrocity of abortion have lost all shame about pushing infanticide as well.

And yet we dare to hope, and that hope is what inspires our pro-life work.

Abortion is not only a sin against life; it is a sin against hope. Think of what so many scared, pregnant moms say: “I can’t bring a child into this world.” That is not the voice of “freedom of choice” it is the voice of despair, born of feeling one has no freedom and no choice.

It is up to us to make the bells of Christmas more loud and deep  by reaching these moms with concrete help, and by moving our society toward a Culture of Life. We are inspired to work for this, knowing that “the wrong shall fail, the right prevail.

Because hope itself has become Incarnate in a Divine Child.


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