Here in Minnesota, where I live and work remotely for the Avila Foundation, the winters are long and cold.

Of course, this time of year the snow is still fresh and the promise of Christmas is enough to keep us midwesterners away from that late winter slump, when February blurs into March blurs into April and everything just feels…grey. (Those are the days when I’m tempted to visit my co-worker Claire in Arizona!)

So I know what Dan meant—literally—when he wrote recently that some seasons just feel like eternal winters. I also know what he meant figuratively about “ecclesial winters” and the temptation to lose hope in the face of more troubling news or shocking statistics.

Did you catch the word I used there? Temptation.

Because if there’s one thing my time at Avila has helped me understand, it is that not all the thoughts in my head are my own. And I’ve learned to renounce and reject the suggestions that “things will always be this way” or “why bother?”

Because that voice? It’s not mine. And it is definitely not God’s.

Instead, the Lord tells us that He delights in those “who put their hope in His unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11)

And that’s what I’ve set my heart on this season. I’m putting my sights on the horizon where signs of life are everywhere. I’m choosing hope.

And really, from where I stand (and sit at my desk!) it’s not that hard to do.

I hear from people like you every day—the faithful who’ve finally found a place at the Avila Foundation that they can trust for authentic Catholic content, solid formation, engaged community, and deep prayer.

I receive stories of gratitude for life-changing classes, formation opportunities, and webinars that opened eyes and hearts to the power of prayer and the reality of grace.

I’m told about young men’s eyes lighting up with relief and recognition when they see dozens of fellow discerners—our future priests—logging into a High Calling class on their screens, ready to engage and together ask the hard question: “Am I being called?”

I see the movement of the Holy Spirit who hovers over the Church and gives life and breath to all of our efforts—and who returns as did Noah’s dove, holding out a little green to prove that even now, things are changing.

Please, will you join us? As Dan wrote last week, we have a goal of raising $300,000 before the year is over, and I’d like to invite you to not only fix your gaze on the things of God but to do so with a committed team of like-minded Catholics who want to ensure that the hope continues.

When you partner with us, your gift allows us to:

  • expand our High Calling offerings (for men discerning the priesthood)
  • grow our Spiritual Direction program and Avila Institute offerings
  • continue to provide free digital authentic Catholic resources accessed in every country daily
  • keep us prepared for new opportunities to serve the Lord as they arise
  • hire and train a growing team

These needs are signs of hope. They are a reason to rejoice. But they are very real needs, and your gift today will mean that our work can continue into next year and beyond. We rely on you to make all of this possible. With only a few weeks left in the year, we are only 10% close to our year-end goal to ensure that our mission can continue.

You can help make hope possible by making a secure gift here.

I can’t say enough how privileged I feel to witness first-hand your charity and generosity. I want you to know that whether your gift is material or spiritual, I pray in gratitude for you every day.

And this year, when the snow turns to grey slush and I’m *tempted* to languish over long winters, I’ll see it rather as a promise. A promise that God has never failed to bring new life out of dark places or lagging winters. And He’ll continue to do so, and He’ll do it through you.

Thank you in advance for your gifts, sacrifices, and prayers!

Yours in Christ,

Ann Virnig

Director of Mission Engagement and Advancement

PS – When you make a gift today, my team and I will remember you and your intentions in a special Christmas mass as a sign of our gratitude. How can we pray for you? Be sure to add your intentions when you make your donation.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

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