From Fr. Peter’s Desk, 2nd January, 2019

*CHRISTMAS IN BALALLY:*

A lot of preparation went into the celebration of Christmas in our Parish
Community this year. Not alone were lights changed, chalices polished,
decorations and cribs installed, flowers and plants distributed but there
was also a spiritual preparation through the Advent morning prayer. During
the four weeks, the church lights were on well before 7 a.m as people
prepared and delivered thoughtful and prayerful moments to those who braved
the elements. It was the 21st year of Advent morning prayer in Balally .. a
truly remarkable record. Then there were the Christmas Masses themselves
meticulously prepared by the liturgy teams the altar society and the
choirs. All the liturgies were particularly beautiful this year.

There was also a gentle theme highlighted in these Christmas Masses; as we
had had the World Meeting of Families we were reminded of different
families in our community. The Empty Chair at the entrance into the Church
challenged us to think of those family members who were missing. In each
Mass a different family or a different type of family was invited to bring
in the infant Jesus and light the Christmas candle. A family that assists
at the family Mass every Sunday represented all our families at one Mass. A
family that has come to Ireland to make a future for itself and is learning
of our Christian faith was at another. A family that is composed of 2
members and have deep bonds with friends who are “part of the family” and
also a family who had travelled halfway around the world to be together at
Christmas helped at other Masses. Finally, there was the Holy Family
represented in our Crib; the family around which all the Christmas mystery
revolves. A non-traditional family, at times homeless, rejected, poor,
refugee .. threatened, travelling. The Family where God chose to become
present in history. All the children in the Parish sang happy birthday to
Jesus …. the Child from a different family.