Our synod ‘Salt and Light Together’ was a major event of 2006, but it was just the beginning. The participation of so many people in the synod process is something I continue to be deeply grateful for. I also continue to give thanks for the commitment of so many people in working to implement the synod findings and above all for the ongoing, prayerful support which led up to the synod, accompanied us all that weekend and has continued ever since.
A major aspect of the synod was the area of Liturgy, Prayer and Spirituality. It was made abundantly clear that we want opportunities to deepen our life of prayer and to grow in faith. The Future Statements and Propositions were directed to me, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council and Council of Priests, parish and pastoral area councils and agencies and departments of the archdiocese. They were also directed to every single one of us to put into action.
Maybe the time of Christmas is a time to deepen our prayer lives, to be more reflective and even contemplative. I know that for most people the time leading up to Christmas can be anything but, as we get caught up in the frenzy of Christmas preparations. But perhaps after Christmas we can take time to be a little more prayerful and allow ourselves to be immersed in the wonder of the Christmas mystery. When Christmas is over we seem to relax and let life take a different pace – the great New Zealand holiday season begins. Take a few moments each day to be aware of God’s presence while we live in a slower gear.
Pope John Paul wrote in his wonderful letter At the Beginning of the Third Millennium:
Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery which finds its culminating expression in the solemn proclamation by the Evangelist Saint John: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (1:14). (NMI 20)
If so many people are crying out for opportunities to grow in prayer, to come closer to God and be more aware of God’s constant presence, then maybe the downtime after Christmas enables us to do that. Ponder the words of Pope John Paul quoted above; remember everyone of us is able to make real the wishes of the people from throughout the archdiocese who cried out for opportunities to grow in prayer. Indeed we are the only ones who can pray.
My prayer for all of you this Christmas season – remember most of December is Advent, a time of preparation – is that we will all know the mystery of God’s presence in Jesus born at Bethlehem. Wherever we go, whatever we do, be it holidays, family time, walks on beaches, barbecues; whether it is hot or cold, wet or dry, we take time to experience the silence of prayer and know that “only the silent celebrate deeply”. (Brother Roger of Taize).
My deep thanks to you all for the wonderful, prayerful support throughout this year. May we all be blessed in abundance as we remember and give thanks for the birth of Jesus and continue to find ways for him to be born anew, especially as we are caught up in wonderment in the coming Christmas season.
Archbishop John Dew