Merry Christmas to all! Please enjoy this Christmas Message from Archbishop Terrence Prendergas, SJ –
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night. In such a cold and dark setting, we naturally seek out fire and warmth, light and company.
A few days after the solstice—on December 25th—the daylight period begins to lengthen. People look forward to spring. And we Christians look forward to the rebirth found in the Paschal Mystery celebrated at Easter!
This era is also a time of transition. The election of Pope Francis is a ray of light. He embodies the new evangelization with his concern for the poor and needy. The civil war in Syria, the devastation in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan, and the poor in our midst remind us that the call on our hearts to a generous response is constant.
There is a profound message in the Church’s decision to celebrate the birth of Our Saviour Jesus Christ in the lengthening days of late December.
God’s Eternal Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, determined to enter into our world when all was dark and without hope.
Jesus Christ determined to share our human condition to the full and become “incarnate,” taking on human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He even experienced death out of love for each of us. He redeemed us from the darkness of slavery and sin. He brought us into the light of God’s Kingdom.
Living in the Holy Family with Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ vocation was nourished by the loving attention of his earthly parents.
The Church has always sought to encourage and protect the family. Indeed, your family was your first experience of Church, where you learned the love of Jesus, your image of the Trinity, and a life of charity. The family now faces unparalleled strains as marriages are torn apart and children have less contact with their parents for financial and social reasons.
Pope Francis has called for an Extraordinary Synod in Rome next October to discern the Church’s pastoral response to families in crisis. The eighth World Meeting of Families will take place in Philadelphia in 2015 to seek to strengthen the sacred bonds of family in the face of today’s challenges.
Those sacred bonds start with your family, the Church in your home.
Today, our world—with all its complexities—still needs the Good News that God became one of us to show us how to live.
During this holy season of Christmas, take to heart Our Lord’s message of hope to overcome the darkness.
Let us turn from darkness to the light of Christ and reflect His light to all around us!
Merry Christmas! God bless you all!
+Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of Ottawa