At our most recent Province Justice Day, we listened to one of the speakers Paul Frecklington, sharing with us about the ‘Power of Welcome’, and about how the diverse parish community around the ARD Family Resource Centre in Doughiska (Co. Galway) experience this in their everyday lives.
In the world we live in, preparing to welcome is more than ever come to be an essential part of the Advent journey. There is something particular about this journey that calls us to be people of ‘Welcoming Heart’, marked from the outset by recognition of the vulnerability of Mary, Joseph and Child in the political climate of that time and their need for welcome, to the repeated echoes of that welcome resonating throughout all of Nano Nagle’s life, with hand and heart extended to those made poor. Hospitality is an inherent and continued expression of Nano’s living legacy.
“Our eyes sought Him in the glory of the stars,
our ears strained to hear His voice,
and when the heavens were rent asunder with His brightness
we thought to glimpse His mystery.
But of course it did not happen like that at all.
Everything was quiet, still, normal again.
And we went stumbling through the darkness
To a cattle-shelter where a light was showing,
And there we saw the sign … the sign we ‘d been given…
An infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes,
A baby,flesh like you and me,
But God, for all that.
The Lord Christ Himself”.
So might the old shepherd muse,
Long years afterwards,
And we, long pondering, pray:
“Let our eyes see Your glory,
Let our ears hear Your voice,
And let the brightness of Your love be around us,
And let us glimpse Your mystery.
And do not let us miss your coming
Because it is so commonplace, so everyday,
So far from what we think befits Your beauty.
But let Faith lead us to the knowledge,
Light us daily in awareness
That, swaddled in the bands of each one’s weakness,
You are flesh amongst us still”.
~ Raphael Consedine, pbvm
The act of welcoming is a very practical one that requires us to ‘up and do’, and not just think about it. It calls us to move ourselves to action, as Nano did.
Nano Nagle, ‘Woman of Welcoming Heart’. See Hospitality of Heart