Bishop's Christmas Message ~ 2012
We are midway through the Year of Grace. Its effects will not be seen fully in this life, but there are signs that God has been at work among us. Each person can reflect on how it has been for him or her; and anticipate what the rest of the Year might bring. Divine grace always surprises us, even when it comes gently.
This year, many of our Catholic schools in the Diocese have rediscovered the Angelus. This simple prayer is just right for the Year of Grace. We pause in the middle of a busy day and take a minute to remember that we are in God’s presence. This is at the heart of what the Year of Grace is about.
The Angelus is a biblical prayer. To repeat the words of scripture day after day helps us wonder at their deep meaning, as we begin to treasure them in our hearts, and see that they are meant for us.
The content of this prayer repeats the basic Christian faith, on which all our doctrines and beliefs rest. God has entered our humanity, to redeem it from within. The Word was made flesh - and dwelt amongst us. The Angelus is the Christmas message proclaimed every day.
This prayer is about Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father and the Son of Mary. As we pray, Mary accompanies us and we get to know her as the first disciple. Pope Benedict wrote that she is “the image of the Church in attentive hearing of the Word of God, which took flesh in her.”
Many centuries ago, St Ambrose taught that every Christian, in some interior way, conceives and gives birth to the Word of God. Although, in the flesh, there is only one Mother of Christ; in the faith, Christ is the offspring of us all.
In Advent, we began the foundation of prayer for our Diocesan Assembly in 2013. During Lent and Eastertide next year, everyone will be called to participate in preparing for the Assembly in his or her own way. Let’s not watch this opportunity for renewal slip away. Let Christ be born again in our local church, as we become a people who show the world that he is alive in the community that bears his name.
May God richly bless you this Christmas, and in the year to come.
+ M J McKenna
Bishop of Bathurst