Dear Members, Companions, Volunteers, and Friends,
Several years ago, I spent the week before Christmas in a hermitage on the property of the Sisters of Loretto near Gethsemane in Kentucky. I was living in Chicago at the time and left early enough so that I could arrive before dark since I was using ancient technology—the Rand McNally road atlas. I did have one of those flip phones but it did not have GPS—or if it did, I didn’t know how to use it. After making several wrong turns and driving several miles out of my way, I finally arrived very late after dark in this out of the way place. Fortunately, the porchlight to the hermitage was on to welcome me.
We live in a dark time. The darkness is deep and steep for many in our world today and many feel lost. Christmas lights illuminate the landscape of our lives and serve as a reminder that in the darkest time of year, we are people who believe in the light that dwells within each of us. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us again this Christmas, though we are a people who walked in darkness, we are not lost in the dark. Rather, we are people “who have seen a great light.”
The darkness of the world is our darkness. As people of faith, we acknowledge the darkness; we don’t run from it or try to escape it, but rather embrace it because we believe “what came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1, 4-5).”
The light of the world we celebrate at Christmas dawns in the most human of ways. We don’t have to run off searching for the light of love because love comes to us in the routine and the wonder of our lives. As Pope Francis tweeted recently, “The true spirit of Christmas is the beauty of being loved by God.”
We can bear this light of love precisely because we are loved by God. As Parker Palmer writes, “Christmas is a reminder I’m invited to be born time and again in the shape of my God-given self.” We are God’s beloved children now and the challenge of Christmas is always the same: act like it! Live as children of the Light!
May we be a light in the world’s window to welcome home those who are lost, forsaken, or forgotten. During this Christmas season, may we allow the Light of the world to flood our lives, our minds, our hearts to remind us again that we are the beloved of God, the light in God’s eyes. Allow that light to shine as a beacon of hope and hospitality in a world where so many are feeling lost in the dark.
A Blessed Christmas to you, to your loved ones, and to all those you serve and help to find the way home.
With light and peace,
Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.