BISHOP TREANOR'S CHRISTMAS CARD
I was very pleasantly surprised to receive a Christmas Card this morning from Bishop Noel Treanor. It is the first time I have received a Christmas Card from the Bishop of Down and Connor since 1984 - 31 years ago.
It was also signed by Tony Farquhar - the auxiliary bishop. He has never before sent me a Christmas card
The front of the card is taken from a stained glass window in St Malachy's college - the window of Saint Joseph - which was created by Richard King of the famous Harry Clarke Studion.
The inside of my card was, as I say, signed by both bishops:
The back of the card is also very interesting and inclusive. It shows the coat of arms of Down and Connor and the symbol of the 2016 YEAR OF MERCY that has been declared by Pope Francis:
There is a very interesting and very true quote on the back from one of the Vatican 11 documents Nostra Aetate (1965).
The quote says:
"We cannot truly pray to God the Father of all if we treat any people in other than a brotherly fashion, for all are created in God's image. Man's relation to God the Father and man's relation to his fellow-men are so dependent on each other that the Scripture says: "he who does not love, does not know God" (1 John 4:8)
I am very grateful to Noel and Tony for this gesture of reaching out to me at Christmas and indeed in the Year of Mercy. It proves that these two Christian pastors are not only taking the Year of Mercy seriously. They are also taking Christ's command to love seriously. This is the only future for our Church - when its pastors and people live by the Gospel.
I am totally open to responding in the same spirit in which they have approached me.