In this week’s blog Fr Paddy tells us that Christ’s light can be our guide as we journey through the season of Advent.


Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 2nd December 2009

December brings with it, the darkest time of the year. This is a difficult month for many people. There are so many people in our families and communities who are certainly not looking forward to Christmas. Thousands of elderly and unemployed people in Carlow face Christmas in poverty deprived in the name of cutbacks of their Christmas bonus. This may well be a time often when our wounded selves can be at its most vulnerable.

Often the issues that we may live with throughout the year are heightened as we soon celebrate Christmas, in the context of our family lives together with our friends and neighbours. Issues such as bereavements, family breakdown and separation, addiction, financial worries and unemployment can overwhelm and cause great pain and burden on many people as we get closer to Christmas itself. There is in the grey skies these days an atmosphere of worry and burden felt in the hearts of so many.

Climate change, economic collapse, swine flu, scandal upon scandal revealed in recent reports concerning our church, massive unemployment; this may well be a time to feel grey and depressed. 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 journey through this liturgical 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. The prophet Isaiah spoke of a People who walked in darkness, have seen a great light.

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 exiting new possibilities. Hope that is felt when we discover the joy and fulfillment in the good people we love most. Hope that enables those who are uncertain because of illness or unemployment, to take one step, one day at a time. Hope where we may be anxious or greatly burdened that intuitively we 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 the scandals that have darkened our Church. Gods 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. Christs light is greater 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.