In his Advent message read out at Sunday masses in parishes across Limerick city and county, Bishop Brendan Leahy noted that the Collins Dictionary’s ‘word of the year’ for 2022 is ‘permacrisis’. It refers to the news of constant and numerous crises.
“So often this year we’ve heard of the refugee crisis, the Ukraine crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, the climate crisis, the Covid-19 crisis, the economic crisis, the energy crisis, the A&E crisis, the schools child abuse crisis.
"It’s as if we are lurching from one crisis to another with the result that some can feel ‘bothered and bewildered’.”
“Thank God for Advent and Christmas. The power of these seasons is such that, at least for a while, most of us can suspend the ‘living in crisis’ and can enjoy time in the comfort and joy of loved ones, of family.”
He said these seasons remind people that they need to lift up their hearts and lift up each other’s hearts. “The antidote to bewilderment is to focus on hope.”
Dr Leahy suggested that people can keep hope alive in the midst of the ‘permacrisis’ by remembering the good things that are happening, by paying attention to small details where they can show love to others such as by calling around to a neighbour, friend, relation that they may have lost contact with because of Covid-19.
“I’m thinking, in particular, of people living alone, people who are elderly, people who are ill, people who lost loved ones perhaps during the year.
"Sometimes it’s just letting them know you are there, that you are thinking of them that can make a difference, that can light that candle of hope.”
A visit, call, or a small gesture could bring reconnection, he said.
“And that’s something we all need consider now that the worst of Covid-19 has hopefully passed. It is time to reconnect. It will bring hope.”
He also asked people not to forget the lessons of the pandemic amid the Christmas rush.
“I think many of us find ourselves rushing around again. But let’s not forget what we realised during the Covid-19 lockdown – we had time to slow down, to be attentive to relationships and to give time to reflection and prayer. Covid-19 might pass but let’s hold on to the value of prayer, reflection and meditation.”
Warning people against allowing “idle chatter, chat shows or sensationalist programmes” to suffocate their soul, he urged them to “count the blessings” and he appealed to those who have lost regular contact with the Church to re-connect this Christmas.
Paying tribute to those who remained faithful as the diocese prepares for change “in the light of a reduced number of clergy”, he acknowledged the difficulties in being Catholic today.
“It’s not always easy to be Catholic these days. It takes a little more backbone than in recent times gone by.”