Let us tune in to the heart of our Mother this Christmas.
“The great temptation in times of crisis or difficulty is to shut oneself away to take care of the little one has, waiting, hidden and cherishing memories, for better times to come” (Letter of Pope Francis to IFCA, 9 November 2021). Living an Advent and Christmas “as usual” can be a strong temptation this December 2021, when the pandemic - which has not completely left us - has forced us to withdraw into ourselves and, in a certain sense, to slow down the progress of our organisations.
On the contrary, if as women we seek to tune ourselves in to the heart of our Mother in this liturgically important time, our attitude will be characterised by bold hope and courageous creativity. This is how Mary, a poor young girl betrothed to Joseph and pregnant with the Son of the Father, presents herself to us when she rushes to help her cousin Elizabeth, when she prepares to give birth in an animal cave and then when she presents the Child Jesus to the shepherds and wise men from the East for adoration. Everything in her life changed and She reacted with audacity, with hope in God, with courage to deal with the changes and creativity in the face of a life crisis. What a resilient woman!
WUCWO has recently received thousands of testimonies of resilience through its World Observatory on Women. The socio-pastoral project on the impact of the Coronavirus on women in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly on the most vulnerable women, has allowed us to dialogue with 25 experts from 14 countries and to receive the testimonies of more than 2000 women from the region. We have heard moving experiences, which have allowed us to delve into their needs and sufferings, as well as to learn from their good practices.
This experience reminds me of the private audience with Pope Francis in 2020. It was then that, in the course of a friendly conversation in a relaxed and familiar atmosphere, the Holy Father told us that the Church is carried forward by women. He exhorted us to be courageous like Mary Magdalene, to be brave and bold with respect to Peter and the other apostles. Moreover, he took on the needs of WUCWO, strengthened our creativity and filled us with hope.
Dear friends, let us show the talents of women through the concrete actions of our organisations. We allow ourselves to be challenged by current questions such as: “how to face our ecological conversion?”, “what do we need to achieve a synodal style?” and “what needs to change in order to strengthen the links between WUCWO member organisations?”. Persistence in our prayer, community discernment and knowledge among WUCWO member organisations can help us.
If we update ourselves in the social doctrine of the Church, reflecting again on Laudato si’ and Fratelli tutti, we will become more aware of its demands. And what could be better than to use the Advent and Christmas season to tune ourselves in to Mary's heart! In this way we will be able to respond to these demands like Her, with daring hope and courageous creativity (Cf. Video message of Pope Francis to the Festival of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 25 November 2021).
Collaborating in a post-pandemic change also requires us to be attentive and to react to laws contrary to the Gospel or the Church’s magisterium that governments in various countries have passed during the months of lockdown, since it was not possible to publicly oppose them. The pre-existing situations of violence against women and lack of protection for families increased during the pandemic. All the more reason to give a voice to those who suffer from such discrimination and to unite, as in a network, our actions.
I wish you a happy and holy Christmas, in tune with the heart of Mary of Bethlehem,
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General