The Advent message from our Prior Fr. Dom Ugo-Maria Ginex ESB (csr) – 6 December 2020

Once again we find ourselves living in a sad scenario: thousands of COVID19 infected, hospitals stretched to their limits, we have now exceeded 1,537,409 deaths worldwide. Many people are locked in their houses waiting for a stop which never seems to arrive.

There are doubts and sometimes even chaos, we’re not even sure how we will celebrate Christmas this year. The only certainty which continues to remain is the avoidance of gatherings and “social distancing” masks on faces and remaining at a safe distance.

Many are are afraid! Fear getting sick, with a fear of dying and fear for our loved one’s future. The elderly and disabled fear abandonment, they feel unsupported. Many of us are exhausted and feel depleted by this long walk at these tenebrous days, we are tired by all of the sacrifices we’ve made. We are angry at the superficiality and incompetence with which those we’ve elected have handled things.

We continue to experience our fragility and our weaknesses. We’ve always known that we were fragile, but we had devised systems for us not thinking about our problems and hardships. We are fragile because as mortal beings we are marked by transgressions, egocentrism and lacking in compassion, because we are not God!

Covid has again brought to light the fragility of our way of life built on self-interests. A system that puts profit and power above people, a system that believes that there is always someone who “comes first” before others. This system has tragically been proven to be not only wrong, but inefficacious and a supports only those who believe themselves to be above others: this erroneous way of thinking has forgotten individual people, the poor, the weak, the disabled, the elderly, those who are lonely or have mental health issues as though these people are unimportant or do not exist. We now see that this system was never in place to protected us, its there to divide, setting us apart from those who “come first”.

Our leaders call these “unprecedented times”, unprecedented means times in which there is no experience of dealing with an event. I say that they are not unprecedented at all, we’ve had pandemics before, in simple terms our leaders were simply not ready for a pandemic, the were unprepared and lacked the expertise to deal with it properly. Rather I think when they say unprecedented they mean ‘finance’ and ‘economy’ as we hear a lot more about financial issues interspersed with repetitive COVID19 messages many of which make no sense, contradict each other as though you and I, the ‘common people’, are considered as simpletons by those we elected.

In this context, we begin Advent, four weeks in preparation for Christmas. Advent shows us God who acted in contrast to all the necessary precautions at this time of Covid. In fact, He “tears the heavens and descends among us”, He overcomes the barriers and distances by drawing Himself closer to us, showing us the way of salvation and love in our closeness. He who is our Holy God, strong and immortal, comes among us and overcome these divides, created by those who believe they lead properly and efficaciously; God undertakes to make Himself fragile and makes Himself weak as a mortal creature. In this becoming fragile like us, He saves us. He shows us that the way to overcome fragility is not through strength or violence, but through love and the giving of one’s life. To love is to become even more fragile, because it is putting yourself in the hands of others, “naked, exposed and with all your limitations in the open” —whilst the others do as they wants— in fact, the strong God made fragile, Jesus Christ was crucified for us. God becomes fragile and weak just like us, because He desires to help us to understand our situation, to accept it, and to recognise that the only way to “save” open to us is to take it up, to live it and stay within it, just as He has done. Reminding us that even in our frailty and our vulnerabilities there is the possibility to attain happiness and to live a full life. Reaffirming that we are strong simply because He is always with us.

This advent presents us with that important principles of rebuilding a new world: a world where the primacy of the individual person is placed above the economy and profit, a brotherhood among all people, where power is genuinely understood to be a service for every person without exception. Therefore joining the advent initiative of our church gives us a practical and immediate opportunity to help build a new and better world.

During advent we sing: “Come Lord Jesus”. He does indeed come, He has already come and will return time and time again. Let us look for Him within our own lives as it is now. Let us look for him within our own fragility and within the fragility which surrounds us. If we seek Him out I assure you that He is willing to be found. With His being close we will become stronger, and can achieve anything just as Philippians 4:13 teaches us “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me”.

Joyful advent, fragile and distant.
I send you my prayers and blessings ask ask you for yours.

+ Frá Ugo-Maria – Priore Eremo di Santa Maria