The first Advent letter of 2011

With Advent soon upon us, the annual Advent letters from the country’s bishops will start appearing. One, in fact, already has. Almost like last year, when Archbishop Eijk and Bishop Wiertz were virtually equally fast, Bishop Gerard de Korte of the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden is first out of the gates with his letter to the faithful, which he devotes to the topic of peace. It should come as no surprise, as the topic, which the bishop explains also includes our manner of behaviour towards one another, is one dear to his heart. A key passage in that regard is the following: “We often speak or write harsh words about one another. How often is the good name of a fellow human being trampled in the dirt? Yes, their is a lot of violence and discontent in our hearts.”

The letter, which can be read in English here, draws in such elements as religious movies and the sexual abuse crisis, and claims the time of Advent, the time leading up to the birth of Christ, as a time leading up to peace. And from that claim comes the invitation  the challenge, that the bishop extends: “On the feast of Christmas we meet Christ as the King of Peace. He wants to free us from the violence and discontent. We must allow this King of Peace into our own existence. Christ is born in Bethlehem, more than 2,000 years ago. The great question of this time of Advent is: can He also be born in our own lives?”