A Most Blessed Christmas to everyone!
In this vast region of the East, we find ourselves celebrating Christmas amidst a spiderweb of “safety” regulations that do not concern themselves with the “safety” of our eternal souls. As you can imagine, this type of “safety” has caused havoc and destruction to millions of souls who find themselves deprived of the normal channels of Sanctifying Grace.
However, we know it is true that Almighty God is infinitely good and perfectly wise. He has permitted these evils to occur and He is offering all of us the opportunity to grow in grace, in holiness and to learn very important lessons. He has not left us without hope and without means of sanctification. No Catholic soul can be “locked down” in their spiritual life, especially the interior life of prayer. If all else fails, those of good will can still converse with Almighty God through His most beloved Son, through the intercession of His saints and especially through the Most Blessed Mother of God.
There are far too many important lessons for our edification and correction that we can draw from these strange and painful times. Let us take a brief look at a few of them and try to find the plan of God in these events.
Vocations, Vocations, Vocations.
This word needs to be repeated more than three times…maybe 3,000,000 times. As many of you know by personal and painful experiences, there is no substitute for a lack of religious vocations. Let us make this our goal and focus of 2021…to encourage, to strengthen, to foster vocations in our families, in our chapels, in our countries. Let us learn from this tragic situation as we see so many Catholics who are deprived of the sacraments and the liturgy the moment someone sneezes in an airport!! Generosity in our families and generosity in our desire to carry our crosses is the answer to this shortage. Let us also pray for the two new priests ordained this month from our District of Asia (Fr Daniel Yagan and Fr Cyril Alolaya).
“And seeing the multitudes, he had compassion on them: because they were distressed, and lying like sheep that have no shepherd. Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9)
Gratitude, Appreciation, Honor.
There is another lesson that we cannot escape in this year filled with lockdowns, paranoia and fear. The lesson is that we only appreciate things when they are taken away from us. We have grown accustomed to having Mass and the sacraments readily available, from week to week and month to month. The former availability was wonderful and precious, but we can all admit that we have lacked sufficient gratitude and appreciation of these Divine Actions of the Liturgy and Sacraments. Now, as countries slowly begin to open up, we are given the opportunity to correct those mistakes, to appreciate the wonderful honor which God gives to us through the Sacraments and the Holy Mass. As Our Lord said to the Samaritan woman, “If thou didst know the gift of God, and who he is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou perhaps wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” (John 4)
Therefore, the Priests, Brothers and Oblates pray for you all, especially for those who have been stranded for many months without the sacraments and the Holy Mass. We will remember all of you at our Christmas Masses and we hope to be able to visit you as soon as humanly possible.
As St Paul says, “Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer.”(Romans 12)
In Christ and Mary,
Rev Fr Patrick Summers