From the Director
They come at evening, scenes from far away, The bitter-sweet of absence and of love, When memory opens her halls of yesterday, And draws her shuttered curtains from above.
Taken from the poem Mission Memories by Columban Fr. John McFadden (1894 – 1978), these lines capture his bittersweet mood as he prepares to celebrate Christmas back home in the U.S. after many years in foreign mission lands. During the long December evenings, memories of Christmas celebrations in those far away places flood his heart, bringing joy and sadness, tears and smiles.
As Christmas approaches, many people have similar experiences. At unexpected moments, memories of a childhood Christmas gift, or of the first Christmas season as a newlywed couple, or of a surprise guest at the Christmas dinner table stir up in us bittersweet memories. Frequently, the names of people with whom we celebrated Christmas in previous years come crowding into our minds.
Elvira, Felisa, Elida, Mabel, Ines y Silvia, Rosann, Margarita, Leonora, Georgina, Norma, Paulina, Noemi, Leticia, Hello, Mary Lou!
At unexpected moments, memories of a childhood Christmas gift, or of the first Christmas season as a newlywed couple, or of a surprise guest at the Christmas dinner table stir up in us bittersweet memories.
These are among a list of people that Fr. McFadden knew and loved in distant places, faces from the past who "pass before my eyes, as twilight dies." Each one of us could compose our own list, which would include some who are still living, as well as others who are deceased. Confronted with grief and loneliness as he recalls those who have died, Fr. McFadden finds comfort in the hope of a joyful reunion.
But 'God will wipe away all tears' one day, And bid us sup with Him, our gracious Lord; Safe in his care, we'll rest, all grief away, Our lives, our loves, our family all restored.
With the consoling realization that the past and the future are safe in God's hands, Fr. McFadden concludes his poem with a prayer for the present Christmas season.
Lo! the Most High from royal throne descends, To be Our Savior, sprung from David's line; May His, and Mary's joy be yours, my friends, Noel! Noel! O Night, O Night Divine!