December/January 2021: Prayers and Reflections

Prayers and Reflections for December/January


Blessing for a Christmas Tree

Bless this tree, this sign of life and freshness and perseverance in creation. It is a reminder that you are born anew in us each day. Bless our family and friends as we celebrate this joyful season. Keep us safe in our travels, kind in our conversations, and gracious in our giving and receiving. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Blessing for a Christmas Crib

O God, out of your love for us you sent your dearly beloved Son to become man. You willed that he be born in a humble stable in order to give us an example of humility. We pray you now to bless this crib, a representation of the scene of his birth; may it draw us closer to him. By imitating his humility may we become a worthy dwelling place for his rebirth, Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.


* * *


On the look-out

The Bethlehem innkeeper at Christmas was probably the unluckiest man in history. He had the chance to shelter the Holy Family and he missed it. Worst of all it wasn’t really his fault because after all the place was full. And yet in a million nativity plays he’s blamed so much, though perhaps not so much blamed as pitied because the person who misses an opportunity is really to be pitied.

     It could happen that someone will come to us today. Yes, perhaps Christ will come to us in the guise of a family member, friend or neighbour needing a word of encouragement, or understanding. The innkeeper didn’t know that Christ might be passing. We don’t either, any day of our lives. So watch and pray, be on the look-out for Christ passing … today.

 Ronan Drury ‘Pass It On’

* * *


Christmas is Calvary for an awful lot of people. But that isn’t a paradox. It is a direct parallel. In English, after all, Bedlam is a short form of the word Bethlehem, while the trial and the dying of Jesus spell out in forensic detail what it is that Law and Order does on a daily basis, here and everywhere else, to protect the peace, for the short form of Jerusalem is traditionally Salem. So the cross shows us the double-cross of culture. The shepherds who visit Mary in the stable are not stand-ins for King David, the prototype of the pastor. In Luke’s time, they were seen instead as desperados from a sordid underworld, vile criminalised individuals. So the stable is an unstable venue, reversing our priorities. The whole of Western philosophy begins with the self; but the stable knows that it starts with the Other. We all talk about bringing Christ into the world; but the stable knows how this is done: in darkness, in displacement, in the mess and mucus of jeopardy.

 Aidan Matthews ‘Feasting and Fasting’


* * *


In prayer we are never alone. But too often we do not appreciate this; our eyes can be closed to the blessings around us, to the height and depth and breadth of the mystery of our Christian prayer and our Christian life. But even there God is full of compassion for us in our weakness, as is Christ our mediator. And he can work within us in his own way, usually hidden from us, to bless us with all the abundance and generosity that are his.

 Patrick McGoldrick ‘Remember and Give Thanks’,

Veritas Publications, 2021

* * *



It’s December, presents are lunatics—
spoons, napkins, knives, writing-paper,
classy jars of delicious jam.
I’ve sent you nothing but my small books,
I must seem tight as a mackerel’s arse
on a winter’s night, and that’s water-tight.
But I despise the treacherous generosity
of presents. Presents are like hooks,
the greedy fish is fooled by the fly he swallows.
In refusing to give presents to rich friends,
the poor man shows true generosity. 

Brendan Kennelly ‘The Essential Brendan Kennelly’ (2011)


* * *


World Day of Peace • 1 January

We pray for all who suffered violence today,

May an unexpected serenity surprise them.

For those who risk their lives each day for peace,

May their hearts glimpse providence at the heart of history.

That those that make riches from violence and war

Might hear in their dreams the cries of the lost.

That we might see through our fear of each other

A new vision to heal our fatal attraction to aggression.

Those those who enjoy the privilege of peace

Might not forget their tormented brothers and sisters.

That the wolf might lie down with the lamb,

That our swords be beaten into ploughshares

And no hurt or harm be done

Anywhere along the holy mountain.

 John O’Donohue ‘Benedictus’


* * *