Flourish, the monthly newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow

From the December 2018 edition…

Archbishop: Time to tell the real story of Christmas

Archbishop Tartaglia has called on Catholics to use the hype and anticipated celebration of Christmas as a way of helping people understand the real reason for the seasons of Advent and Christmas.

In his annual festive message, Archbishop Tartaglia points out that society’s impatience to start Christmas celebrations earlier and earlier each year is a sign of a deep spiritual thirst, to which Catholics should try to respond.

The Archbishop’s message is reproduced in full below:

“The Christmas lights which bedeck our streets seem to go up earlier each year, just as the festive jingles appear programmed to fill shopping centres as soon as Bonfire Night is over.

It’s fashionable to bemoan such early manifestations of Christmas, but perhaps we should reflect on what they signify.

Surely they represent a longing on the part of the men and women of our day to replace the darkness of this year end with light and to replace the insecurity of the modern world with words and sounds of hope.

We have recently marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War – a conflict which caused carnage on a truly horrific scale. And while our world is not currently in the grip of such organised industrial slaughter on a daily basis, conflict and aggression and persecution stain the planet still.

In all of this gloom, the message of Advent and Christmas is striking and also very appealing.

It is an announcement of hope. It is a promise of a better tomorrow, and it is the clarion cry of the power of love.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas the Church traditionally focuses on the figure of John the Baptist. In a way, he was a translator of God’s plan, putting into the people’s own language the news of the world’s liberation and, by his own example, showing how to prepare for the Saviour’s birth.

This festive season we citizens of 21st century Scotland would do well to imitate John the Baptist in his activity as a translator of God’s message and God’s will to the world.

It is for us to translate to neighbours and friends the real significance of the lights and the candles, to explain the real meaning of the carols, and to put into words and action the practical implications of Christmas. As St John Paul put it in his first teaching letter to the world shortly after his election: “The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life…” (Redemptor Hominis, 13).

This Christmas season let’s not bemoan the early lights and sounds. Let’s rather interpret them for our friends and neighbours, and in so doing, bring them to meet Jesus, who is, after all, the real reason for the season.

With every blessing

+Philip Tartaglia

Archbishop of Glasgow

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