No customary Christmas

“This year, instead of looking forward to our unrestrained Christmas celebrations, we shall be confined to our homes; we may be praying for the deceased members of our families or friends and colleagues who have been snatched from us by Ebola.” Father Peter Conteh, Director of Caritas Freetown, shares his Christmas reflections. Despite the difficult situation in Sierra Leone he reminds us that despair and despondency are not the first options.

Father Peter Conteh“In a few days time, we shall be celebrating the feast of the birth of our divine Lord Jesus Christ. However, the current situation in our beloved motherland keeps sending us daily reminders that the situation is quite different this particular year.

Instead of the usual loud music blasting in different parts of the city, this year Freetown is drowned in the sound of sirens conveying our compatriots – mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children and friends – who have been infected or affected by Ebola.

This year, instead of looking forward to our much cherished and customary Christmas Eve Mass and New Year’s Eve Mass, we shall be constrained to make do with a rushed late afternoon or early evening Mass.

“This year some parents will spend Christmas without their children; and so many children will spend Christmas without their parents.”

This year, instead of looking forward to our unrestrained celebrations after participating in our religious ceremonies, we shall be confined to our homes; and instead of spending time reflecting on the spiritual meaning of Christmas, we may be praying for the deceased members of our families or friends and colleagues who have been snatched from us by Ebola. 

This year, some wives will spend Christmas without their husbands; some husbands will spend Christmas without their wives; some parents will spend Christmas without their children; and so many children will spend Christmas without their parents.  

Is there any surprise, then, that, in such a grim situation, many of us might be tempted to give in to despair? 

“Despair and despondency are not our first option.”

Against the background of the situation described above, I ask you for your prayer for us in this difficult moment in our country.

Nevertheless, for us Christians, despair and despondency are not our first option. St Paul challenges us not to lose hope, even in a terribly sad situation.

Let me take this same opportunity to wish you a happy Christmas.

God bless,

Peter Conteh

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