Monday, December 15, 2014

Preparing a welcome...

Already people are wishing each other a happy Christmas, but it's important not to forget that we are still on our Advent journey. Advent is all about having the patience to wait and making the spiritual preparations for the coming of Our Lord. 

Preparing a real welcome for Christ is the goal of Advent. That welcome was expressed beautifully on Christmas Eve in my parish as a child. A big candle would be lit and placed on a window in every house in the area. It was a tradition that existed in many places throughout rural Ireland. In some houses it was a privilege given to the youngest child, but in others it was the eldest or the father of the family who lit the candles. It was to light the way of the Holy Family, Joseph, Mary & Jesus who were travelling the roads in search of shelter and to show they were welcome in an Irish home, even if they could not find a place to stay in Bethlehem. It was also lit to welcome visitors.

Former President Mary Robinson placed a candle in the window of Áras an Uachtaráin (the presidential residence) as both a symbol of the Irish diaspora and as a welcome home beacon.

Lighting candles was a particularly important tradition in my childhood. The candle is symbolic of the light which is at the heart of Christmas.

There are only a few days left in Advent - let's make the most of it!

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