Dear friends of the Jesuits,
When I think of Christmas, I often remember two photos taken when I was about four years of age. The first shows my grandfather’s Christmas tree. He had a great love of Christmas decorating, and his tree was always perfect. I remember him placing each piece of tinsel ever so carefully in precisely the proper space on the tree. When he was finished, the tree was perfectly symmetrical, extremely shiny and silvery, and the centerpiece of the home. The tree, and the task of decorating it, was a source of great joy for him.
The second photo is of me and my grandfather after we opened presents. My grandfather was looking at the instructions for a toy that needed assembly, and I was quite happily playing with the box the toy came in. I was certainly excited about the present, but at the moment the photo was taken, my greatest joy came not from the gift, but from the packaging.
Quite often, and especially at Christmas, we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. Christmas can be overwhelming, with decorating, buying presents, events, and all the complexities that sometimes accompany family celebrations. It is far too easy to get caught up in the preparation and forget that the message of Christmas is in fact quite simple, and something any happy four-year old gleefully playing with a box could understand. In the words of the eminent Jesuit theologian Fr. Karl Rahner:
“Now God says to us
What He has already said to the earth as a whole
Through His grace-filled birth:
I am there. I am with you.”
Jesus is truly with us during this Christmas season, and throughout the year. Remember, the Jesuits of Canada will keep you in their prayers during this joyful time of year and are always grateful for your generous support and friendship.
A Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to you and yours,
Barry J. Leidl
Director of Advancement – Directeur de développement