The Adoration of the Child is depicted in this 17th-century painting by Dutch artist Gerard van Honthorst. CNS photo/Uffizi Gallery in Florence

Editorial: Christmas prayers

  • December 18, 2019

With good reason, Canadians generally take it for granted that Christmas is a season of peace and goodwill. We are blessed to live in a country that slows down to let the joy of the season wash over us.

In our Christmas prayers, however, we should remember the millions of people living in places where one of the holiest seasons on the Church calendar can be one of the deadliest. For Christians in many African, Asian and even European nations, public celebrations of Christmas can suddenly be transformed from joy to sorrow.

We were reminded of that by a news report out of Indonesia, a Muslim nation, that said 160,000 security personnel will be deployed over Christmas and New Year to safeguard worshippers. A year ago, 90,000 officers were assigned to guard churches in that country because places of worship, the article stated, become “targets” at a time of year when pews are crammed.

A year ago in Nigeria, the terrorist group Boko Haram launched a string of Christmastime attacks that killed several people. Also last year, at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, a gunman killed five people and wounded 10 others. Two years before that, 12 people were murdered in a terrorist attack at a Berlin Christmas market.

Coptic Christians in Egypt are often targets of attacks, and on the eve of Christmas celebrations last year a police officer was killed outside a church while trying to defuse a bomb. Anxiety will also be high in Sri Lanka following a string of Easter bombings in April that killed more than 250 people.

So our wish this year is that people everywhere, particularly in the most troubled parts of the world, remain safe and are able to experience the peace and joy of Christmas wherever they gather. We pray also for: 

  • A genuine commitment in Ottawa to ramp up access to palliative care at a pace that exceeds the haste at which politicians seem determined to expand euthanasia.
  • Godspeed for Canada’s newest cardinal Michael Czerny as he continues his work in the Vatican on behalf of the poor and oppressed, particularly the tens of millions of migrants and refugees worldwide. 
  • An international commitment to heed the wisdom contained in Laudato Si’ as Pope Francis’ encyclical on caring for our common home approaches its fifth anniversary, and as climate change becomes a deepening crisis.
  • Steadfast conviction in the Church to not just eradicate the scourge of clerical sexual abuse but to expose abusers and bring them to justice.
  • An international awakening and generous response to the food crisis unfolding in Haiti and everywhere else where, instead of sitting down to Christmas dinners, people are undernourished or starving.
  • And, finally, peace and blessings to all our readers during the Christmas season and throughout the New Year.

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