From the Director - Light and hope begin in darkness
I lived in Ireland for almost sixteen years and the thing I miss about Christmas since returning to Australia is the lack of darkness. The long cold, wet, dark nights not only made for a more festive atmosphere and keener appetites but they made more sense of Christmas and New Year spiritually and liturgically.
Christmas is the celebration of light shining in the darkness. It comes just after the winter solstice. In the middle of a seemingly interminable winter the days begin to get longer and everyone celebrates the hope that the winter darkness will not last forever. It is much more difficult to celebrate "the light that shines in the darkness, a light that the darkness will never put it out" when the sun is shining so brightly that we have to wear sunglasses, 30+ factor sun screen and zinc cream on our noses.
Yet in our sun-drenched country we face the same fundamental spiritual problems: where do we find our reasons for hope, the energy to love and a light in our hearts that darkness, worries and cynicism will never put out?
Every New Year hope springs again in a small way when we make our New Year's resolutions. Most of mine revolve around either becoming trim and taut or in my better self, more prayerful, generous and just. But they rarely seem to work.
But I believe we will have more energy to live fully, spiritually and hopefully in 2009 if we remember the central message of both Christmas and Easter, namely that light and hope begin in darkness. Jesus was the light who came into the world to battle darkness and was almost crushed by it. "It was night" when he was betrayed. [Jn. 13, 30] It was almost as if darkness had to reach its greatest power for the light to begin to shine again. So too we find hope by turning up during the darkness and doing the right and generous thing, by continuing to be just and to love even when it does not seem to be working or worthwhile.
Despite the glitter, Christmas is not meant to be the magical moment that removes us from the darkness and the realities of life. Instead it is a celebration that the light has begun to shine again and the winter darkness will not last forever. I hope that your 2009 is graced and full of light - even if you have to wear sun screen.
Fr Noel Connolly