, 08 November, 2020 / 9:38 PM
The head of the Catholic Church in Mauritius has acknowledged with appreciation the solidarity of the people of God in the Indian Ocean Island nation amid COVID-19 challenges, expressing the desire for a “sober and fraternal Christmas” later this year.
In his Thursday, November 5 message seen by ACI Africa, the Bishop of Port Louis, Maurice Cardinal Piat explains that his Christian invitation is “a little in advance” to give room for reflection.
Cardinal Piat recognizes the solidarity of Mauritians exemplified in their reaching out to each other in time of need amid the pandemic and poses, “Could we extend this solidarity by daring to experience a more sober and fraternal Christmas this year?”
He shares his prayerful desire, “Let us dare to believe that the joy of Christmas will not be stifled by this sobriety but on the contrary that it will spring up in all its beauty.”
The Cardinal goes on to invite Christians in Mauritius to look forward to celebrating this year’s Christmas season in ways that offer “a glimmer of hope” to their respective lives amid COVID-19 challenges.
“I invite you this year to celebrate the feast of Christmas in such a way that it can bring a glimmer of hope in the difficult situation in which we are today,” the 79-year-old Cardinal says.
He adds, “With the slowdown in economic activities, many of our compatriots are losing their jobs and are no longer able to meet their obligations. They find themselves in great distress.”
In his November 5 message, the member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) recalls the “destitute” conditions of Jesus’ birth and how the Holy Family fled to Egypt to escape persecution, a journey that saw Jesus and his parents experience “the life of migrants wandering the roads and asking for asylum in order to survive.”
“If Jesus, the Son of God, spent his first years on earth among those whom the world rejects, it was to come close to them and show them that they were brothers and sisters for him,” the Mauritian Cardinal reflects in his message published on the website of his Diocese.
Like Jesus, let us be close to those who suffer, with special attention for those who, because of the crisis, are helpless, the Cardinal adds in his November 5 message titled “Let's dare a united Christmas!”
“I am extending this invitation to you a little in advance so that we have time to think about it with friends, family, and parish,” he explains and adds, “It would be nice if families, neighborhoods, movements, parishes, NGOs or other associations could imagine initiatives to experience a more united Christmas.”
Such initiatives should include those that value the encounter, which puts the human at the center and those that are welcoming of the other person, their situation notwithstanding, the Local Ordinary of Port Louis Diocese says.
"These meetings made up of listening and friendship that bring a little human warmth could be lights that decorate our homes, our neighborhoods," he says in the November 5 message.
The Cardinal implores “the Lord to develop in us this ‘creativity of love’ to which Pope Francis invites us.”
“I trust that the Spirit will give us the ability to light a multitude of little living torches that will spread the light of hope among our brothers and sisters who struggle to survive in dignity,” the Spiritan Cardinal says.
Looking toward the Season of Advent set to begin on November 29, the Cardinal prays for “a fraternal” period manifested in acts of “solidarity.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, I wish you a fraternal and creative Advent Season. In the midst of our difficulties, let us dare to show solidarity to live a real Christmas joy in Mauritius,” Cardinal Piat says.
Meanwhile, in his prayer intention for the month of November, the Cardinal invites the people of God under his care to pray for all those who mourn the loss of a loved one.
“May the Lord enlighten and support the volunteers of the Communion Lazarus in the service they render to accompany them in their mourning and strengthen them in their faith in the resurrection,” Cardinal Piat says in a separate November 5 message.
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Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa