Dear Sisters, young women in formation and collaborators,
We spent a very joyous Advent season following an intensive itinerary of praying and listening to the Word of God, which was offered to us very abundantly by the Liturgy during this period.
The four icons proposed in the Synod’s Final Message: voice, face, home and path, helped us prepare for Christmas more profoundly, while the atmosphere of silence and contemplation that we cultivated helped us expand the boundaries of our hearts, communities and apostolic centers so as to welcome the Living Word–Jesus, the long-awaited Savior of all the nations.
Now we kneel before the manger, the visible presence in time of God-with-us. In contemplating this very meaningful tableau, let us focus first of all the central event of Christmas: the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word became a Child, one of countless other children, but also different from them because he is divine. In fact, he is the Son of God, the firstborn of all creation, the light shining in the darkness, the image of the invisible God, the Beginning, the first in everything because in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. He is the beloved Son of the Father, the true Light that enlightens everyone (cf. Jn. 1:1-18; Col. 1 :15-20).
At the side of the Infant Jesus is Mary, his Mother, full of grace and light. We see her contemplate and adore her Son as he sleeps in his crib, hearing once again in the depths of her heart the words of the angel: “You have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Lk. 1:30-33). We contemplate Joseph, an upright man, an honest citizen, an exemplary husband, who found himself surrounded by a mystery. With faith and obedience, he embraced the divine will and safeguarded Mary, his wife, and her Child (cf. Mt. 1:18-24).
Before the manger, we also contemplate the shepherds whom the angels surprised in the middle of the night with their joyful announcement, causing them to run to the cave to meet their Savior, Christ the Lord (cf. Lk. 2:8-17). We note the presence of the Magi, who arrived from the East under the guidance of a star, seeking the King of the Jews so as to adore him and offer him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (cf. Mt. 2:1-12). The animals in the cave also have a role to play as the representatives of all creation, which shares and rejoices in this long-awaited event.
We pause at length before the manger we have fashioned in our hearts. Our inward gaze discern other figures there, some of whom are known to us and others who are unfamiliar; some with happy faces, some with sad ones. It is the human family, yearning for hope and salvation–an infinite multitude of people who, whether they are aware of it or not, file past the crib of Jesus. With joy and wonder, we welcome him into our hearts. We carefully receive him from the hands of Mary so as to offer him to all those we will come in contact with this Christmas, including people we have not yet met but who are entrusted to us through our ministry as passionate and courageous apostles of the Word. This is the most beautiful gift we can offer humanity during this time characterized by uncertainty, difficulties and a search for meaning.
Let us all cluster close to the manger. Let us allow ourselves to be illuminated by the light shining from the face of Jesus–a light that reflects on Mary, Joseph, the Magi, the shepherds and all humanity. May our faces too glow with this light, witnessing to the love and mercy that Jesus came to bring us. These are the Christmas best wishes that I and all the members of the General Government offer you, together with our prayers, gratitude and affection.
A Blessed Christmas to each and everyone of you.
Sr. Maria Antonieta Bruscato
Istituto della Pia Società Figlie di S. Paolo, Casa generalizia – Via S. Giovanni Eudes 25, 00163 Roma, Tel. 06.661.30.39