Some of you may have heard by now that the Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand, Fr Brian Vale was recently elected as the Vicar General for the Missionary Society of St Columban.
The appointment is immediate and so we wait for another election to see who will take on the role of Regional Director. I thank Brian for his service to us all in the Australia and New Zealand Region and wish him well in his new leadership role.
Brian’s election was part of the General Assembly of Columban leaders that was held in Taipei, Taiwan, in September. The purpose of the meeting was to evaluate the past six years, to plan for the next six years and to elect a new General Council. It is a time to listen to where the Lord is leading us in mission at this time. It is a wonderful occasion to hear what missionaries are doing in different countries and to hear the challenges that they are facing.
We heard that the sexual abuse scandals continue to impact on many Columban Priests and Lay Missionaries. However, they take heart in Pope Francis’s document on ‘The Joy of the Gospel” which sets forth a vision for giving the entire Church, at every level, a missionary thrust; Pope Francis calls for renewal and rethinking the way every person and every institution – from the Pope and the Roman Curia down to the parish and its parishioners might act.
As we begin the new liturgical year with Advent, we can look at both Advent and Christmas through a lens of desire. Our Christian tradition teaches us that God desires to be with us. St John said it well in his Gospel, “God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son” (Jn 3:16).
St Augustine also said it well in the often quoted saying, “Our hearts will not rest until they rest in You”. We seem to have the perfect marriage here. God desires to be with us and we desire to be with Him. What could go wrong?
Well we know that we do go wrong. Our own house is not in order. Our desires are disordered. We have to spend a lot of our lives trying to sort out our desires. We go looking for God in many different places and it usually takes us awhile to be successful in our searching.
That is why during Advent the Church urges us to do an audit of our desires. We have other names for it such as “doing penance.” Jesus talked about pruning the vine so that there would be more growth. As we do our pruning of our disordered desires we will feel the pain. It is penitential.
Then on the third Sunday of Advent we have a happy day! The opening line for the Entrance Antiphon is “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice.” We are happy when our desires are satisfied; when we get what we long for. We can rejoice because the Lord is always with us. On this Sunday we celebrate the joy that we have come to know when our deepest desire for God meets the desire of God for us.
It is no wonder that the angels are full of joy on the night of Christmas. The God of love has come into the world and will always be with us. This is the story we Columbans have been telling for 100 years.
I thank you for your support of Columban Mission and pray that we will be able to continue to spread this Good News for the next 100 years.
May your Christmas be full of joy.
Fr Trevor Trotter
Listen to From the Vice-Director
- Read more from The Far East, November/December 2018