Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

From June 15-22, 2022 Canada and Quebec City will host the 49th Eucharistic Congress. Its theme is, The Eucharist: Gift of God for the Life of the World.

So this year, the mystery of Christmas brings to mind the truth that the Son of God continues to take flesh during the celebration of Mass. Hence, the importance for us of Sunday Mass, our weekly opportunity to hear Gods holy Word and to be fed with the Bread of Life! To bring our lives into contact with Christs for his healing, support and challenge!

The entire Bible points to Gods tender compassion for His people and Gods desire to share our life. And God did this most supremely by taking on our human condition, taking his flesh from the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Jesus EmmanuelGod with usalso shared every aspect of our human condition: experiencing cold, hunger and thirst, the need for shelter and a loving family. Christ was born in Davids royal city, Bethlehem a name that means house of bread. Wrapped in a newborns swaddling clothes, he was placed in a manger, the place where animals feed.

Saints and mystics have seen in Bethlehem and in the manger a foreshadowing of Christs future gift of himself as food for our spiritual lives and his desire for intimate communion with us. As we contemplate Jesus Christ in the manger and in the consecrated host we make ourselves vulnerable to him, so that, in our turn, we might be changed into his likeness.

In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius Loyola invites believers to imagine the circumstances of the worldwar, turmoil, disasters, sins of every kind against justice and charity and human dignitythat led God to intervene.

This wise spiritual guide invites us then to imagine a conversation within the Trinity and the decision God took that the Divine Word would enter the human condition to draw all of humanity back to God and ultimately to eternal life. The first part is theoretical: the big picture. The second part is the application: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, to save each of us, to save me.

Spiritual writers often apply this and say that God would have done all this even if I were the only one to be saved. It's a way of saying that the Christ Child came into the world andthese are Pauls words to the Galatiansloved me and gave himself for me (2:20). Christ gave himself up to death on the cross so that I might live a totally new life!

So, please take time during these holy days to visit the crib at your parish and to pray silently before the Lord. Imagine Mary offering to let you take the Christ Child in your arms and speak to your Lord and Saviour the deepest longings of your being.

As well, I invite you during this yearas we contemplate the Eucharist as Gods greatest gift to humanityto seek to comprehend Jesus abiding love in the gift of himself under the appearance of bread, adoring him in the reserved sacrament and letting this transforming love of his take root in your life.

May Mary, who delighted in showing her Son to everyone from shepherds to kingsthe one Pope John Paul II called the Woman of the Eucharistintercede with her Son and obtain for us the Christmas blessings of joy and peace.

Merry Christmas!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Archbishop Prendergast SJ, signature

Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Archbishop of Ottawa