A Happy and blessed Christmas to each one of you. My prayer for each of you this year is that you may be touched and renewed by the message of joy and hope which this special season brings.
This year more than ever perhaps we need to find space and time to connect with the “Good News” which Christmas brings. There is no doubt but that we are living in changing, challenging and disturbing times. Talk of Brexit and of “hard borders” leave many fearful for the future, the growing hostility between nations and cultures and the lack of welcome for migrants and emigrants is distressing, while the seemingly increasing hostility to religion and Christian values in our own country has left many people of faith confused and uncertain.
Yet into this whole situation Christmas comes as a ray of hope and encouragement. In a general audience some years ago Pope Frances, reflecting on the meaning of Christmas, declared that for him “Jesus is God among us.” Indeed, he got the huge crowds in St. Peter’s Square to chant this refrain with him “Jesus is God among us”. The birth of Jesus he said brings the good news that God loves humanity in an infinite way. So as we celebrate the wonderful Good News this Christmas that God walks with us on the journey of life, no matter the external realities of our lives and our world, we are invited to open our eyes to the presence of his love amongst us and to respond by working to enable this love to take root in our families, communities, society and world.
In his Christmas Eve homily last year Pope Francis said, “In the child of Bethlehem, God comes to meet us and make us active sharers in the life around us. He offers himself to us, so that we can take him into our arms, lift him and embrace him. So that in him, we will not be afraid to take into our arms, raise up and embrace the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned. In this child, God invites us to be messengers of hope. He invites us to become sentinels for all those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors. In this child, God makes us agents of his hospitality.”
My hope for each of us this Christmas is that we may truly be for each other;
Christmas is also a time for thanksgiving and gratitude and so I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and prayers for the work of the Irish Redemptorists over the past year. We deeply appreciate your commitment to our mission and ministries without which it would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to continue to serve the Lord and his people as we do. We have much to be grateful for as we look back on 2018 besides our normal church, parish, mission and chaplaincy ministries we thank God for the success of the “big” Novenas in Clonard, Limerick, Esker and Dundalk, for our involvement in the World Meeting of Families, the participation of our youth groups in the Redemptorist Youth Gathering in Granada (Spain) and for two very significant Pilgrimages, one to the roots of the Redemptorist Congregation in Naples (Italy) and the other to the Holy Land.
Please continue to keep the Redemptorists in your prayers at this critical time particularly as we gather for our Chapter in January to elect a new leadership team and to set priorities for our lives and ministries for the coming four years.
May this Christmas be a time of renewed hope and a joyful celebration for you and your families.
“Christmas celebrations are often full of sound. It would be good for us to make room for silence at this time, to hear the voice of Love.” Pope Francis.
With Christmas Blessings.
Fr. Dan Baragry C.Ss.R.,
Published: 27112018 AM Cartwright Provincial Letter DB_Provincial Letter 12_2018