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Fr Paddy: Christmas – A Time to Hope

The Advent Season is a time to get ready for the approaching feast of Christmas. Liturgically this is a time when we prepare for the joyful celebration of the Lords birth at Christmas.

These dark and chilly days can indeed be a challenging time, where often our vulnerable selves can experience a sense of struggle.

Yet, where there is darkness there is also a burning light of hope and healing. Advent is a time to be open for the blessings of Gods gifts that will be given abundantly to us this Christmas.

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. This is a real good news story that is a daily reality but often is unrecognised and truly appreciated.

One of the greatest and most powerful gifts available to us all is the gift of Hope.

In a time when we can be consumed by the negative, hope is an invitation to constantly embrace the possible.

Hope is that gentle presence calling us everyday, to begin again. Advent is a Season of hope.

Every year the Christmas season seems to visit us earlier. This is true in terms of decorations and streetlights well visible in all Towns and shops by now.

This time of year is both welcomed and dreaded with the same amounts of childhood enthusiasm and perhaps adult anxiety, excitement, fear and stress.

Christmas is much more than a winter holiday. In a Secular Christmas can become as superficial as Black Friday sales, concluding with heartburn after too much stuffing on Christmas Day.

The Christian story of simplicity and new life can be as life changing in 2018 as it was in an unknown village called Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

Advent is a time of preparation and indeed a time for all of us to grow in our hope that God wants us to possess in our heart.

The Prophet Isaiah foretold “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” Advent is a time for all of us to grow in hope and to avail of the spiritual gifts that are truly greater than any we may long for and may not afford.

Advent is the great gift for anyone who has experienced darkness and vulnerability, which in truth is perhaps all who may read this article.

Jesus whose birth we prepare for during this time of Advent is often forgotten in the busy run up to Christmas.

Perhaps if we ponder more on Jesus our lives will change for the better in a very real way this Christmas.

Jesus wants to plant his light and hope in the places of our stories that may be darkened and overshadowed by the bruises of life that we all carry and indeed feel at times.

Where sickness, addiction, bereavement, separation, depression and anxiety prevail Christ the lord of light, wants to heal and transform.

Just as his birth happened in a place of poverty and humility, so too in this time of winter darkness, the light of Christ wants to shine firstly in the places of pain and uncertainty that are felt in our lives.

The more we long for God the greater his birth will be in our hearts. The more we are in need of his presence and relevance the greater the gift of faith and fulfilment, Jesus will bless us in our lives.

Christ’s light is a bright source of love and joy that is freely available for all people. The heart of Christ is firstly open to the places where we may be lost and broken.

My prayer is that all of us will grow in a peace and joy this advent that God wants us to enjoy.

Ask God with confidence every day to be born again in my heart. The great prayer of Advent is simply, Maranatha, “Come Lord Jesus”.

Celebrating the Birth of Christ is a wonderful opportunity. There is just abundance and plenty in Gods love for us all.

Jesus is the reason for the season. We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. I

f we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing we become nothing.

Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation.

This means we are to become a vessels of Gods compassion for others.


Advent Prayer

Heavenly Father, during Advent, may we remember the greatest gift ever given: Your only Son, Jesus Christ.

Fill our hearts with joy day by day as we think of our Savior putting aside His heavenly glory and coming among us.

As a newborn, only a stable roof sheltered Him and ordinary, impoverished parents cared for Him.

Your angels couldn’t contain themselves, but broke into the quiet night-watch of a group of humble shepherds.

The heavenly messengers proclaimed the glorious news of the Savior who would pay the price for our sins, the sign of Your goodwill to all people and Your desire for peace on earth.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, grow our understanding and wonder of His birth.

By Christmas day, may our hearts overflow with rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Let our gratitude overflow to each person we meet by demonstrating the peace and goodwill in our hearts — not just at this joyful season but all the year round.

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Fr Paddy is a curate in the hugely vibrant Portlaoise Parish. From Carlow town, he was educated in Carlow CBS and studied Business and Politics in Trinity College Dublin before training to be a priest in Carlow College. He is the youngest priest in the Kildare & Leighlin diocese and writes for a number of media outlets. He has almost 14,000 followers on Twitter.