A not so silent night

Every Christmas for the past 14 years, I've sat in a wooden pew at St. Isaac Jogues Church. I've looked around at the evergreen Christmas trees, admired the poinsettias covering the altar and enjoyed generations of celebrating families.

But the manger scene has always been my favorite part of Christmas Mass. And why not? It represents all that matters: Christ's birth, the salvation of humanity, the hope of eternal happiness. As a kid, I never doubted the message of Jesus: in love, sacrifice and forgiveness. And I never expected others to doubt. Yet as I grow up, I find myself in a world filled with people whose values differ so greatly from the ones I've embraced.

There are so many people today who believe the values taught by Jesus Christ are just a suggestion - take them or leave them, These same people are so consumed by selfishness, by anger, by jealousy, that they convince themselves they have achieved all there is to achieve. Mostly, they cannot face their true reality: they are lost. You see this all the time in entertainment, in media and in politics.

There are so many people who protest and claim that life is not fair and that everyone else is the problem because they do not know what else to do. At the same point in life when they found their false sense of pride, they lost their faith. Love becomes a word they throw around aimlessly. Friendship is unnecessary when you have yourself. Sacrifice is a discomfort. Forgiveness is an act these people feel they deserve, but somehow never seem to give to others.

It's difficult to see society this way, to see so many fighting so hard for all the wrong things. Lacking in faith, in understanding what really matters, these non-believers succumb to the temptations of the world: money, self-promotion, alcohol and drugs, taking the easy way out of things. They have lost all direction because they refuse to believe in something higher than themselves. In someone greater than they are. In someone like Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is not just a figure for young Catholic girls at Christmas Mass, but a figure for us all. His teachings, his values and expectations for the world are the key to life on earth. Christian morality pertains to everyone, no matter who you are, regardless of the faith you practice - or don't practice. Until people realize how consequential their life here is, until they put aside their selfish desires and unfounded grievances, they will remain stuck. They will remain lost.

On Christmas Day, I again sat in a wooden pew and remembered why I am here. I remembered the importance of faith, love and morality. But most of all, I prayed that others will find the inspiration to do the same.

- Katie Hughes of Hinsdale, a senior at Nazareth Academy, is a contributing columnist.