JOYCE CORONEL

Driving through a neighborhood once years ago, I remember thinking that behind every door was a person with a story that ought to be told. I suppose part of that comes from being a pro-lifer: each human life is beloved by God who spilled His precious blood for all humanity — the rich and powerful, the poor and frail, the Hollywood starlet and the beggar on the corner. Each person’s life is unique and worthy of the Father’s love. Each person’s life tells a story.

With Christmas just days away, we turn our hearts toward the humble stable in Bethlehem where the Savior of the world was born. In the midst of the clamor of the world and the unrelenting violence around us, this conscious decision to focus on Jesus Christ, Ruler of the Universe, girds us with the truth: the Child born in the silence and stillness of the night was sent to redeem us and heal our broken world.

Tonight as I write these words, I can hear the bells tolling from the Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem. I’ve traveled here to the Holy Land along with three other journalists to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, Mary and the Apostles. I really can’t think of a better place to ponder the meaning of Advent.

I was still coming down off the high of the papal visit and engrossed in Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted’s exhortation to men when the news broke of yet another school shooting. This time, it was at a community college in a small town in Oregon where Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, killed nine people and wounded nine others.

With just days to go until Pope Francis arrives in the U.S., Catholics from around the globe — including two journalist-catechist moms from The Catholic Sun — are preparing to join him at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia where they’ll unite around the theme “Love is our Mission.”

Sitting there in front of my computer, my hands were shaking as I watched a technician cavalierly examine a container of body parts taken from aborted babies.

So, this is where we find out what we’re made of. Are we truly followers of Christ, or are we practical atheists?

We sat there in the restaurant, two women who have been friends for more than 30 years, and talked about the nine sons between us. There were times we wondered if we would survive (hello sleep deprivation and teenage shenanigans) or if we’d ever have an uninterrupted conversation again.

When life kicks you in the teeth and you’re down for the count, you find out quickly who your friends are.

If there’s one thing Americans can agree on in this era of social discord, it’s that we love film. We spent a staggering $10 billion on movie tickets in 2009.

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