Abbot Hugh Allan, O.Praem.
Apostolic Administrator of the Falkland Islands and Superior of the Ecclesiastical Mission to St. Helena, Tristan Da Cunha and Ascension Island
Pastoral Letter for Christmas 2022
Dear friends in Christ.
A few years ago, I heard about a teacher who went to Russia after the fall of communism. She was sent to an orphanage outside Moscow. She was there from September to March and as they approached Christmas, she realised these children had never heard of Christmas. Under the communist regime, the celebration of Christmas had been banned and these orphans had never been taught about the joy of Christmas. So, she spent a few lessons telling them the Christmas story. The children loved it. They could not hear enough and were so excited to hear about the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the stable, the star, the three kings and so on.
After speaking to them all, she asked them to draw the nativity scene. She said it was amazing how close the pictures the children drew resembled what we know of as the stable at Bethlehem, except for one boy. He drew a picture of the stable, the crib, the animals, but there were two babies in the crib! The teacher panicked and thought she had got something wrong in telling the story. She sat the orphan boy down and asked him about the picture. She said, “you do know that Mary only had one baby?” Yes, said the boy. “But then why have you drawn two babies?” asked the teacher. “Well,” said the orphan boy, “you said that we all have a home in the holy family at Bethlehem; I don’t have a family and I thought Jesus wouldn’t mind me sharing his crib.”
The joy and hope of that child, after hearing about the wonder of Christmas, is a joy and hope we should all keep in our hearts as we celebrate the birth of our saviour, Jesus Christ. It is the truth of our Christian faith that our saviour is true God and true man. In coming to be one with us, he makes a home for us, and we belong to a family, the holy family of Bethlehem.
It is a truth that brings us joy and hope. Even in the midst of the difficulties of life, there is always a place where we truly belong, where we can be at home. It is the place where Christ dwells amongst us; no longer in the crib, but in the tabernacle, in our churches. He longs for us to be with him, to spend time with him. To simply dwell with him, as he comes to dwell amongst us.
As we move from 2022 into 2023, make a new year resolution – no not to lose weight or be more healthy, as good as those things as. Make a new year resolution to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Make time to go into church, even if it just five minutes in your day, and spend time with the Lord. It is the greatest gift that God has given us; the abiding presence of his son in the most holy eucharist. Knowing that we can simply open the church door and he is there – that should take our breath away! Never take it for granted. Remember what a beautiful and precious gift we have been given that we can spend time with the Lord. Not in the small confines of the crib, but in our beautiful churches and truly feel the warmth of his abiding presence. He makes his home with us; please never forget what an awesome gift we have been given.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a truly blessed New Year. May the Lord of all things, bless the year ahead and fill 2023 with joy, hope and love.
I will offer Mass for you all on Christmas day and entrust you the babe of Bethlehem. May you always make space for him in your homes, as he welcomes you into his family, the Church, which he gave to us to help us get home to him in heaven.
Hopefully, God willing, I will get to visit you all 2023.
Please pray for me!
With the assurance of prayers and every blessing,
+Hugh o. praem.
Abbot Hugh Allan, o.praem.