Very soon, maybe even now, you may be hearing the greetings “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” For many people, those greetings bring a sense of happiness and joy. But for others, those same greetings may be a painful reminder of all that is not merry or happy during this Christmas season.
Because the seasons of Advent and Christmas can bring a sense of sadness and loneliness to some people, the Holy Name Province Office of Development has created a way to share prayers and to provide some comfort. The initiative is launching later this week.
“We recognize that the holidays can generate depression and even despair when some are reminded of the recent loss of a loved one, the termination of a job, the pinch of economic failure, the rupture of an important relationship, the diagnosis of illness or even the sense of loneliness that invades all of us at various times throughout the year,” said David Convertino, OFM, the Province’s executive director of development.
“While many have started dreaming of a white Christmas, we know that the Advent season can be a profound struggle for those experiencing difficult times or losses,” he added. “Studies report the fact that ‘Blue Christmas’ is not just a song, but a reality that is particularly rough on many struggling with these issues of loss and loneliness.”
While many are “Merry Christmasing” or “Happy Holidaying,” there are also many people who simply cannot feel those emotions or that seasonal joy, says David. The friars would like to help those struggling to find the joy of the season for whatever reason.
“If you are coping with loss, grief, depression, or even a small trouble, the Franciscan friars want you to know that we will pray for you and with you during these difficult times of Advent and Christmas,” he said.
The Franciscan friars invite all to join them in celebrating Blue Advent on the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year – Dec. 21 – to remind us that even the darkest days and times will end as the light of faith shatters the darkness.
“On this darkest day of the year, Dec. 21, we invite you to share in our prayers for you and each other by lighting a virtual Blue Candle on our website Friarworks as we join with each other to banish the darkness of loneliness, pain, illness and loss, and pray for the light of life, Jesus Christ, to enter our lives and hearts,” said David. “After the solstice, the days will begin to lengthen and are brighter beginning on Dec. 22 as we move toward spring.”
“From darkness to hope, we hope the lighting of this candle encourages you to remember that the Franciscan Friars are praying for you and your intentions each day,” said David.
All intentions must be submitted by the winter solstice, Dec. 21. Those who submit prayer requests will receive a virtual candle lit in prayer for their intentions on that day.
May the Lord bless you and keep you in this Advent season!
This prayer will be said as each candle is lit:
Let me, O God, please let me . . .
In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
let me find hope each day.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
let me feel the warmth of God’s presence.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
let me recognize new life around me.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
let me see the love around me.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
let me hear the voice of love.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
let me be free of past hurts and painful memories.
When I am weary and in need of strength,
let me find joy and comfort.
When I am lost and sick at heart,
let me find a time for prayer.
When I have joys I yearn to share,
let me find a friend to share them with.
So long as I live,
Let me remember the greatest of all is love.
- “Daily Prayers Go Digital” – Jan. 9, 2014, HNP Today
- “Development Offices Raises 1200+ Sandwiches Through Social Media Campaign” – Nov. 27, 2016, HNP Today
- “Province Launches ‘Text a Prayer’ Initiative” – Jan. 15, 2013, HNP Today