In this week’s blog, with the Budget announced, Fr. Paddy sends a message of Hope.

I WAS greatly moved, following a visit to a wonderful couple who are 67 years married.  The man’s wife had just returned home after being very ill in hospital. As I walked into their family home and their door was opened, I immediately sensed the joy and hope in this man’s lovely smile. “I have her home again”.

The weeks coming up to Christmas are both exciting and anxious ones. Christmas is all about ‘home’; for this reason, it can be both negative and positive.  But it is also a spiritual and deeply hope-filled time of year.

The season of Advent is a time to celebrate ‘the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light’.

As the cold winds of economic uncertainty continue to be felt, so too are the levels of fear and anxiety. December brings with it the darkest time of the year.  This is a difficult month for many people; thousands in Carlow face Christmas in poverty.  Often issues that we may live with throughout the year are heightened as we get closer to Christmas. Issues such as bereavements, family breakdown and separation, addiction, financial worries and unemployment can overwhelm and cause great pain and burden.

Perhaps it makes sense in this time of winter darkness to focus on the light and hope that Christ wants to plant in all our hearts as we soon journey through the season of Advent.

We can never fully appreciate or embrace Christ in our hearts until we grow in our awareness of the places in our story that are wounded and longing to be healed.  Hope is a wonderful gift that allows us to see beyond our present circumstance. Hope brings us to a place where we can be nourished and sustained.

Hope offers opportunity and exciting new possibilities; hope is felt when we discover the joy and fulfilment in the good people we love most; hope enables those who are uncertain because of illness or unemployment to take one step, one day at a time; when we are anxious or greatly burdened, hope lets us sense that we are greater than just this moment in time and that we belong to a greater good, felt in the depth of all our souls.

The great message of Jesus in the Gospels is his desire that we be set free from fear.   Hope is something that, as a Christian people, we believe comes from God.    Hope is greater than any recession.

There are no cutbacks when it comes to the love of God. God’s Kingdom is much greater than any institution, including our Church.   The light of God’s love will visit us where the darkness and shadows of fear and uncertainty may overwhelm us most.

Christ’s light is brighter than any winter darkness and his presence is as gentle as a candle that gives us enough light to take one step at a time, day by day.  May we grow in the light and hope that God wants to plant in our hearts.

Advent is a time to hope, a time to be expectant and confident that all will be well when we place our trust in God.