The Primate of All-Ireland has renewed his call for everyone across the island to turn towards hope and away from despair during the Advent season.
“The season of Advent offers us a new beginning and a promise of hope for better times,” said the Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin. “The First Sunday of Advent is actually the Christian Church’s New Year’s Day. In 2020 – perhaps this year more than ever – we need ideas and inspiration to help us delve deeper during our hours of isolation and restriction, to find that glimmer of light, that note of joy, that promise of consolation.”
The archbishop acknowledged how since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic the people of Ireland had endured testing times with courage, resilience, and compassion.
“Individuals and communities have made great sacrifices for the protection of life, health and for the common good,” he said. “Many Christians have been reaching out in generous service and support for their neighbours, the lonely, the isolated, the sick and the bereaved. Faith, love and hope – within the home and in Church – have been a huge support during these difficult times.
“The seasons of Advent and Christmas occur in the depth of winter reminding us that Christ was born to bring hope to a darkened world. As the prophet Isaiah said, ‘the people that wait in darkness see a great light’. During Advent, let us reflect on the eternal message of Christmas, which is, Christ is alive and that He is our hope.”
Archbishop Martin noted how the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s unique online Advent Calendar, now in its seventh year, offers helpful resources for the parish, school and for families which can be accessed behind a virtual door each day during the season of Advent. The content is aimed at assisting people of all ages to pray and reflect on how best they can keep Christ at the centre of their Christmas preparations during this special liturgical season.
Encouraging the faithful to engage with this year’s Advent calendar, he said: “While it is has been a very trying year for all us due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the season of Advent offers a new beginning and a promise of hope for better times. Each day in Advent, behind a virtual door on our calendar, we will offer ideas to help spiritually prepare for our Lord’s coming at Christmas, such as thoughtful reflections as well as challenges for change and conversion. In our preparation for the His coming, we stay alert for the unexpected moment when the Lord comes to us in other people, in our daily experiences, including his presence in the sick, the poor and the stranger.”
Archbishop Martin concluded: “Until Christmas, let us take just five minutes each day for reflection to find moments of peace so as to rediscover the true meaning of Advent and thereby spiritually grow throughout this season.”
To engage with this year’s online Advent Calendar, see: https://www.catholicbishops.ie/adventcalendar/
Picture: The Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, is pictured in Dublin in this file photo, dated 26th August 2018. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).