The words ‘through Christ our Lord, Amen’ are familiar to us as the conclusion to many of the Church’s formal prayers.
‘A pregnant woman is not the usual image that comes to mind when one thinks of a prophet,’ writes the American theologian Elizabeth Johnson in her book Truly our Sister, yet in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel we come face to face with two Spirit-filled pregnant prophets doing exactly what prophets do: speaking aloud God’s truth.
As has been said so many times in recent months, 2020 has been a year like no other. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption and change in almost every area of our lives, including the way we have celebrated Mass and the other sacraments. As we approach Christmas we look forward to the hope of a more ‘normal’ 2021.
Perhaps the three most important words that children can learn are ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’, but the attitudes behind these words – respect, gratitude and forgiveness – only develop when they are lived out in the family, in the school, in the parish, and in society at large.
Sickness and death are often hidden or denied in contemporary culture yet everyone encounters ill health at some time in their lives, whether in short-term conditions such as appendicitis and the common cold or chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and mental illness.