A message from Bishop Nulty as 2014 Reach Out Campaign is Launched

This is the eleventh year of the Kildare & Leighlin Diocesan REACH OUT initiative. It all began in 2004 with parishioners invited to bring home the gift of a Diocesan Candle with a prayer and leaflet and to drop one or two into neighbours’ homes as a Christmas greeting.  In 2005 there followed a special table prayer to accompany the candle, and in 2006 an Icon of the Holy Family became the gift. In the intervening years fridge magnets, olive wood Christmas Tree decorations, and a Peace Lamp have all featured prominently.  Last year our REACH OUT gift was the image of Pope Francis. There is no doubt but that image and his presence continues to captivate our world. It is always difficult to know how to follow such a successful year, because it’s not really the gift but what it represents that is key, and indeed how the particular gift links to what has been offered in the past.

To the uninitiated, seeds might seem to be literally a throw away gift. And they are … doesn’t the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 remind us it’s where the seed falls that potential growth begins. Chamomile is a beautiful little white-petaled flower, quite similar to the traditional daisy. Chamomile seeds can be planted in the simplest pot and left on a kitchen window sill. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. The seeds need light to germinate and will do so in the right conditions after about two weeks. Once the last frost has passed, they can be placed outdoors. For years, chamomile seeds have been used as a traditional medicine to calm anxiety and fear. Too many areas of our world are currently in conflict, too many homes don’t even have a safe garden outside to plant seeds and cultivate crops. By planting the chamomile seeds we are doing our bit gently in rolling up our sleeves, getting down and a little dirty as Pope Francis reminded us in Evangelii Gaudium: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which has been unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security” Admittedly you won’t need a shower after planting the seeds, but hopefully you will feel enthused and refreshed!

The chamomile seeds come in the smallest of envelopes with the words ‘Seeds of Peace & Hope’ within the greeting card. The card carries a beautiful image from the Sicilian marble on the side altar of Carlow Cathedral. The seasonal image is that of the nativity. Again there are possibilities of keeping that image and framing it for your home. The greeting on the card reminds us how social media has been used and at times sadly exploited in conflict zones. We only need to remember the part social media played in the recent Arab Spring. I am suggesting in addition to rolling up our sleeves and planting the seeds, we also might use the twitter feed #PEACEKANDLE these Advent days to spread our message of Christ’s peace. I will be tweeting every day and invite you to become part of the conversation. Some of you will be planters, more will be tweeters, but together may we all remember the words from scripture: “why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you”. As the seeds germinate into flowers, I pray that we may all experience the peace and calmness we so earnestly wish for this Advent/Christmastime.

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