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A reflection for Advent: The consolation of Christmas

Whom can you console this Christmas season?

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It was Christmas night. My mind went back to so many happy Christmases, to the three masses which I was able to celebrate that night. What remembrances filled my mind! But none of all this was now possible. I was alone, without mass. Instead of Christmas it seemed more like Good Friday! Just then when my Christmas was being changed into the passion and that blessed night into a sad Gethsemane, I heard a strange sound near one of the windows. It was the soft murmur of many voices which, with muted accents, sought to escape detection. I began to listen. If any of you have been in prison waiting for a sentence, you would appreciate the anxiety with which I followed those sounds which were now of themselves becoming an immediate source of suspicion. Such are the fears that one feels within the four walls where one is detained.

Suddenly, above the murmur that was reaching me, there arose a soft, sweet, consoling Christmas carol, one of the songs which I had myself taught to my Christians. I was unable to contain myself. I burst into tears. They were my Christians who, heedless of the danger of being themselves imprisoned, had come to console me, to console their Shimpu Sarna (their priest), who was away that Christmas night which hitherto we had always celebrated with such great joy. What a contrast between that thoughtfulness and the injustice of senseless imprisonment!

The song with those accents and inflections which are not taught or learned poured forth from a touching kindness and sincere affection. It lasted for a few minutes; then there was silence again. They had gone and I was left to myself. But our spirits remained united at the altar on which soon after would descend Jesus. I felt that he also descended into my heart, and that night I made the best spiritual communion of all my life.

Pedro Arrupe, S.J., "Christmas in Prison," from Pedro Arrupe: Essential Writings (Orbis Books)

Reflection question:

With whom can you share your spirit (or whom can you console) this Christmas season?

Published: 
Friday, December 16, 2016