The Gleaner
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A Christmas Message from Father Clément

For the better part of a year now our lives have been completely turned upside down by the unexpected arrival of a new virus. Previously this virus was only familiar to laboratory researchers, it has now become a part of our everyday vocabulary: coronavirus.

One of the immediate after-effects of this virus is that for the past year our church has been essentially empty on Sundays. In recent months, we were granted permission to re-open our doors, but to no more than 25 parishioners at a time, which is, if we consider the dimensions of our church – an empty church.

During this period of confinement, I have often found myself walking up and down the aisles of my empty church, rosary in hand; the only sound to be heard:  the echo of my footsteps. Recently, on one of these daily strolls through the aisles, I discovered something that was there all along: this silence is not empty, it’s inhabited! Occupied by all the saints depicted in our statues: The sacred-heart, Christ on the cross, the Holy Virgin Mary, Saint Anne, Saint Agnes, Saint Teresa and brother André. I see the light of the lamp in the sanctuary reminding us of the Eucharistic presence in the tabernacle and all the prayer candles lit by parishioners with special intentions; I feel the presence of all those who have graced our doorstep to unite with their neighbors and bow their heads in prayer since the church first opened in 1873. I feel the presence of all those who continue to find solace in our church just as their predecessors have and their descendants will for years to come: peace, contemplation, presence, silence.

Off to the right of the altar, we find the nativity scene with the newborn Christ reaching his arms out to us, surrounded by his mother and father, shepherds and kings, an ox, donkey and sheep. Representing all facets of a community: a family – mother, father and baby; the rich (depicted by the Magi); poor people (the shepherds); people who come from far away lands (the Magi) and ones who live nearby (shepherds) as well as familiar animals. All these people stood in awe and silence before the newborn – even the sheep, present but silent. Ready to listen.

Maybe this is what this forced confinement is calling us to do in our homes, our families, our communities: take the time to listen and really be there for each other without judgement or impatience; because Jesus is never far away. His message can be heard in the voice of a loved one who calls to see how we are doing, or the kind gesture of a neighbor bringing food or a grandchild offering us a hand made card. We are surrounded by His love. This is what the silence of that baby in the manger has come to say through his birth among us. Merry Christmas!

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10 Comments

Betty McIntyre 2020-12-20 at 10:48

Thank you Father Clement for the beautiful message. Stay safe and Merry Christmas

Reply
Mary Shewchuk 2020-12-20 at 10:08

Enjoyed reading your message this Sunday morning. Stay well Father Clement. You are in my prayers!??
Mary Shewchuk

Reply
Lorraine Curran 2020-12-18 at 19:25

Thank You, Father Clement, for this beautiful message!! Looking forward to seeing you again! Stay safe and may God Bless You!

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Gaye Cosgrove-Shay 2020-12-17 at 18:41

A beautiful message Father Clement. Thank you. Have a blessed and merry Christmas and thanks for all you do for this wonderful town of Huntingdon,?

Reply
Aimée Pedersen 2020-12-17 at 12:22

What a beautiful message, Father, thank you. Till we meet again someday soon! God Bless you.

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Lois Shaw 2020-12-17 at 09:30

Thank you father Clement So inspiring Hope to see you soon

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Jacqueline Campbell 2020-12-17 at 08:46

This wonderful message is very inspiring and is the very essence of Christmas. This should be held on not just for Christmas but everyday of the year.

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Pat Martin 2020-12-16 at 21:15

What a inspirational message! Thank you Father. We look forward to the day when we can once again join you in church.

Reply
Yvonne Lewis 2020-12-16 at 12:37

Thank you for that beautiful message Father Clement. Hopefully at some point in time we will be able to appreciate what this silence has to teach us.

Reply
Linda Chisholm 2020-12-17 at 09:22

Merry Christmas Father Clement, thank you for this wonderful Christmas message.

Reply

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