By Ann Marie Foley - 01 December, 2014
The diocese of Kildare and Leighlin is giving its parishioners a gift of a sachet of chamomile seeds as part of its annual Reach Out campaign.
“For years Chamomile seeds have been used as a traditional medicine to calm anxiety and fear. My hope is that as you sow these seeds and watch them grow they will remind you of the words of Jesus,” Bishop Denis Nulty explained.
Bishop Nulty quotes from Matthew (6:28,30) ‘And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you’.”
“As seeds turn into flowers I pray that we may all experience God’s love, a love that once more comes to us this Christmas, a love that is our peace and hope,” the bishop of Kildare and Leighlin continues.
From yesterday, the First Sunday of Advent, parishioners are being invited to take home a Reach Out envelope containing a Christmas card, along with the gift of the seeds.
They are invited to take one for their home and one for someone to whom they would like to reach out to.
The initiative is expected to be undertaken in the 56 parishes in the diocese of some 42,000 homes.
In a letter introducing the annual Reach Out initiative, Bishop Denis Nulty recalls his participation in an international delegation of Bishops and Aid Agencies (including Trócaire) that visited the Holy Land in January.
He describes the ‘overnight’ in Gaza as nothing like the norm which might involve a sleepover or a stay with friends.
“Those 24 hours on the Gaza Strip, with power supply continuously interrupted, have left an indelible mark on my own outlook as I witnessed the injustices and unfairness of man’s inhumanity to man,” he states.
He adds that there are two sides to every conflict but what everyone agrees on is that there is “the most acute need” for peace all over the world.
He explains that there are ‘Gaza Strips’ in many homes, parishes, communities and countries.
While the social media can be used and exploited as a weapon in conflict he suggests that people use ♯PEACEKANDLE this Advent to spread the message of Christ’s peace.
“This Christmas there is a truth the world needs to hear. The peace and the hope that are yearned for in our world, our communities, our homes and our hearts are found in Christ,” Dr Nulty states.
This is true for all Christians who find themselves persecuted and displaced just as the Holy Family was, the bishop says and adds: “It is true for communities torn apart by gangland and street violence; for families coping with unemployment, emigration and financial difficulties; for hearts burdened with addiction, depression and isolation.”
He urges people as they look upon the Christ child in the manger, the greatest gift they can give themselves this Christmas is to once more welcome Christ into their lives.
The Reach Out initiative has been held in the Kildare and Leighlin Diocese since 2004.
It was started by Bishop Jim Moriarty after a consultation process in the diocese highlighted the need to reach out to young people, newcomers and those who are less active in parish life.
Each year small gifts are given out to parishioners around Christmas time encouraging people to engage in prayer and reaching out.
In 2005, each home received a candle and one for a friend or neighbour who was less involved or not at all linked to the parish community.
Last year the then new bishop of the diocese, Bishop Nulty continued the initiative and an A5 size portrait of Pope Francis was given as a gift.