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A Christmas of Peace and of Hope

Christmas Greetings and Message 2014 and for the New Year from Mother Yvonne Reungoat to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and to all the educating communities of the world.

Dearest Sisters,
With joy and hope I address my Christmas greetings to each of you, which I extend to all the young people, to their families, to the various groups of the Salesian Family, beginning with the Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime with his Council, and all our Salesian Confreres whom I thank from my heart for their brotherly closeness and their spiritual service.

Christmas time is precious for the atmosphere that surrounds it made up of sentiments, of memories, of signs and gestures.  Notwithstanding the difficulties of daily life and the uncertainties of the future, we know that before God’s journeying people, a radiant star shines even today.  To be on a journey is the condition for seeing it and letting ourselves be guided by it.

This light illumines the shadows that at times tend to obscure it.  This can happen in our life when the heart closes, diffidence minimizes relationships, egoism prevails over solidarity, and fraternity is more proclaimed than lived.  It happens when we let ourselves be overwhelmed by pessimism and we look at history with a negative attitude, devoid of hope.

In the great light that God shines on our path, sign of His living presence, let us listen to His ever new calls to respond to the challenges of our times with the strength and passion of the charism.  These calls are an invitation to change mentality in order to stay with those who are little, poor, unwanted, marginalized.  It is an invitation to live the experience of the encounter with Jesus, the authentic meaning of our existence, and to take up the journey again and again, following His steps that invite us not to be afraid, to overcome fear, to open ourselves to joy, to hope, and to peace.  Jesus comes in littleness because this is what His love chose.  He invites us to make the same choice.  It is up to us to respond.  I invite each of you to have a personal encounter with Jesus this Christmas, to live in His Presence.  In the silence of our heart, we can perceive His love for us, feel ourselves personally loved by Him, and decide on a small, new response.

Dear Sisters,
let us walk together toward the light.  We will arrive at the cave where the Baby lies wrapped in swaddling clothes.  There we will contemplate the One who chose to live in our midst, to be close to us, a neighbour…even more, to live in our home and to accompany us along the way together with the young and with the whole educating community, with all the persons we meet in our daily life.  With Jesus we will rediscover trust, support, and help.  He will strengthen our faith, open our eyes to see each day in a new way, where the periphery extends farther and farther and increases the throw-away culture.

The crèche is the place to contemplate, to be awed, to recognize even weak signs of life, and to broaden the heart of hope.  God is on the side of the poor, of the last ones.  He changes solitude into companionship, desperation into hope, diffidence into the possibility of encounter.  The Nativity Scene is condensed in a defenceless Baby who becomes challenge and prophecy for the world.

This is the reason for every initiative; every new beginning must start from here. In the Bicentennial of Don Bosco’s birth, another scene comes to mind; the place where he was born.  From that place the light of the Salesian charism spread throughout the world, a light of salvation and of hope for many young people.  In God’s plan, hope always comes from the periphery!

Our own vocational fruitfulness is born at Bethlehem, the home of meaning from which we must go out to evangelize and let ourselves be evangelized.  Thus we will sing together the new song that the angels made resound at the cave, “Glory to God…Peace on earth!”

Let us invoke peace for the nations at war or struck by calamities; hope for many little ones, for the poor, for the marginalized; joy for all the young people so that they may discover that their life has meaning and that they will know how to transmit the newness they carry to many other young people; a new fruitfulness for consecrated life, beginning with our own, in the year which Pope Francis has dedicated to it.

Merry Christmas 2014 and Happy Year 2015 to you, to your families, to all you meet on your way.  Bring to everyone a bright smile; the Good News of the Gospel…God is with us!  It would be lovely if every community could celebrate Christmas, even at table, with some young people who feel alone in life.

I add another note of gratitude for the prayers and affection with which you have supported me during General Chapter XXIII, for the resonance that its transmission is arousing in the communities of the world, for the greetings, and for the various Christmas symbols that continue to arrive.
Sister Yvonne Reungoat fma