Circular Letter of the Prior General
“She laid him in a manger, because there was noplace for them in the inn” (Lk 2,7)
To all the Members of the Hospitaller Family of StJohn of God
My dearBrothers, Co-workers, Volunteers and Friends,
With Christmasapproaching, I wish to offer you my best wishes, praying that the God Childwill be born in our hearts, pouring out peace and joy in the lives of each ofyou and your families, and the lives of all those who are suffering from sickness,violence and marginalisation.
AtChristmas we celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation. God never leaves us ourfate, but He became flesh of our flesh, the One who shows “heartfelt mercy” to His people (cf. Lk 1,78). His merciful love for men and women wascrowned by His decision to take fleshand stand in solidarity with human beings.
And He didso in the most amazing way, being born into poverty, lowering Himself to the extreme, to proclaim the dignity of allpeople, regardless of their condition, their state or their abilities. This ishow Jesus was born, this is how He became flesh, in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. This ishow our God became human. It all began a Child who was born in Bethlehem, theSon of God. There the joy of Mary and Joseph, the angels, the shepherds and theWise Men who had seen and followed the star until they found the new-born child,placed in a manger.
She puthim in a manger. There was no place for them in the inn. Our Lord continues tostand in solidarity especially with all children, and their mothers, who arestill being born today into poverty and difficulties, and with all the motherswho are giving birth to their children beset by so many difficulties, withouthelp or care, and above all the mothers who are suffering in their desire to beable to raise them properly with insufficient resources or suffering fromsickness caused by childbirth.
This yearI would like to refer briefly to these mothers and their children, for whom OurLord is born this Christmas and whom we are called to care for and help,according to our charism and our mission of hospitality, as we are already doingin many places where the Order is present.
Just overa month ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the Order’s centres in Malawi,both in the recently-created capital city Lilongwe, and in Mzuzu, to celebratethe 25th anniversary of the arrival of the Irish Brothers and Co-workers inthis beautiful land. The mission they have established here superb and wide-ranging:mental health and addition care, programmes for street children, for women sufferinghardship, the elderly, training various specialties in health sciences etc. ButI was especially impressed by the report on the Maternal Mental Health programme,caring for mothers with mental health problems, before and after childbirth, mostof them as a result of brought a new life into being, which sometimes causesgreat suffering to these mothers with consequences that cause suffering to thenewborn babies.
There are somany mothers suffering from depression, anxiety and even psychosis, mostlycaused by poverty, violence and the lack of of family and social help. This is aserious problem, but it can be dealt with and overcome with appropriate help.Our Services in Malawi are running a programme for this purpose, and thank God,with their help, and with preventive support through training and otherinstruments and by offering the right treatment, they are able to bring a smileto the faces of many mothers who are finding it very difficult to take pregnancyforward and raise their children for the reasons I just mentioned. We paytribute to them and all the mothers in the world experiencing these situations,and we care for them. It was for them that the God Child was born, to make themsmile and enjoy their motherhood and their children, just as Joseph and Marydid, despite their poverty, with their child lying in a manger.
I offer mythanks to all members of our Family in Malawi and everywhere in the world, asyou perform your mission by caring for and helping expectant mothers indifficult situations, and the newborn babies, accompanying them and providingthe support they need.
It isChristmas. On a cold night Our Saviour was born. Let us welcome him with joy, for the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all (Titus, 2:11). Let us spend this Christmastidein the hope that the light of the God Child will cast out all the shadows thatare darkening our world. Let us join the Child Jesus in committing ourselves tofostering the dignity of all human beings, especially the most vulnerable, throughhospitality in the manner of St John of God. By so doing, as Pope Francis toldthe Capitulars on February 1 this year, we shall be icons of God’s heartfelt mercy.
I wish youall – Brothers, Co-workers, Volunteers,Benefactors and Friends of the Order, the sick and all the guests in our Centresand your families – a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2020. Andto all the Brothers and Co-workers who will be spending these days at theservice of the guests in our Centres, particularly on Christmas Day, I offer sincerethanks and gratitude appreciation on behalf of the whole Order.
Speakingfor myself and the whole Hospitaller Family of St. John of God at the GeneralCuria, Brothers and Collaborators, I wish you all a Happy Christmas full ofpeace and joy!
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