CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2017 From The President – Unum Omnes
Dear Friends of Unum Omnes,
On the last Sunday of November each year, the Catholic Church celebrates the solemnity of Christ the King after which a new Liturgical Year begins with the season of Advent. The word Advent is from the Latin adventus for “coming” and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas.
During Mass on the first of the Advent Sundays, the candle of prophecy, symbolising “Hope” and reminding us about the “coming” of Christ is lit. This is followed on the second, third and fourth Sundays of Advent by lighting the Candles of Bethlehem symbolising “Faith”, Shepherd, symbolising “Joy” and Angels, symbolising “Peace”. By these symbols, the church encourages us not to dim the hope we have in the “coming” of the Lord, by holding on to the faith that brings us the joy and peace we experience with His “coming”.
The symbolisms of the Advent candles lead me to thoughts on the Unum Omnes Prayer for Men. The prayer begins thus “ Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, the Father sent you to men of generations……..” It is this sending of Jesus to all generations that Christians commemorate each year in the festive season of Christmas – a period that reminds us of the Lord’s “coming” into the world”. In the Prayer for Men, we pray in faith that we will experience the joy and peace that Jesus brings to those who hope in Him. But the liturgy of the word during this season also points to Jesus’ “second coming at the end of time”
In my Christmas message to you this year, I like us to focus attention on the Prayer for Men, each using it to examine his conscience on how he has fared praying it in 2017 in relation to the second coming of Christ: Ask yourself, when Christ does “come”, can I say that I “answered His call to be a Holy man of the Church”? When I was confronted with difficult situations, from whom did I “draw strength to carry the “cross” of that situation? In word and deed, did I become a “living Gospel that brought joy and hope to others”? The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 350) teaches that the Christian family is a Domestic Church. In that respect I prayed for the “Lord to be present in my marriage and let the example of Mary and Joseph guide me to fulfill my marital and parental responsibilities”. When Christ “comes”, can I confidently give a good account of myself as a married man and or as a parent in the promotion of the domestic Church? As a consecrated person, how strong is my resolve to remain faithful to my vocation?
Dear friends, I encourage you to reflect on the Prayer for Men and pray it even more fervently during this festive season, asking for the grace of God to make you a “living Gospel bringing joy and hope to your world” however small it is. As I write about “being a living Gospel”, my mind and heart goes to the discussions we had recently in Vranov on the migrant and refugee questions in the world, particularly about the situation in Libya where many deaths are occurring through migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean on unsafe boats and others being sold as slaves or forced to join ISIS. Let us remember all these people in prayer even as we enjoy the festivities of Christmas with our families.
May this Christmas 2017 be Merry, full of hope and joy and may the New Year 2018 be filled with happiness, prosperity and peace of the Lord for you and your families.
(PRESIDENT, UNUM OMNES)