Images of Light: Christmas Services Penetrate Darkness Around the World

Christmas falls on one of many darkest days of the yr, coming quickly after winter solstice. This yr, it additionally got here throughout a darkish time for humanity amid a worldwide viral pandemic.

“Right here we’re, celebrating Christmas, but disadvantaged of the greetings, hugs, kisses and handshakes that usually fill today,” Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, stated throughout a midnight Mass in an almost empty Westminster Cathedral in London. “Within the darkness of this pandemic, so lots of our snug assumptions are being shaken.”

But the ceremonies went on, typically broadcast on tv or, as with the Westminster Mass, streamed on-line. If the pandemic has disadvantaged worshipers of group on the holiest day of the Christian calendar, these lonely acts of religion could have shed a bit of sunshine within the darkness.

On the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, which was practically destroyed by fireplace final yr, the annual Christmas Eve choral live performance passed off, with out an viewers and with the medieval edifice nonetheless beneath reconstruction. The choir, organist and cellist, socially distanced, wore laborious hats and protecting coveralls.

At St. Reinold’s Church in Dortmund, Germany, the organist Gerd von der Heyde poured out his coronary heart to the constructing’s 13th-century stone partitions.

On the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, the minister preached to empty pews and a web based congregation.

On the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, on the spot the place Christians imagine Jesus was born, midnight Mass is normally the social occasion of the yr. This yr, it was limited to a few church officials, diplomats and Bethlehem’s mayor.

Tens of 1000’s of Roman Catholics normally pack St. Peter’s Sq. within the Vatican for the pope’s annual Christmas handle. This yr, with Italy beneath lockdown, the sq. was closed. Pope Francis, talking from a lectern contained in the Apostolic Palace, stated that the pandemic should compel people to reflect on their common humanity, and that understanding ought to information how vaccines are distributed.

“I urge everybody, heads of state, corporations and worldwide organizations, to advertise cooperation and never competitors, to discover a answer for everybody, vaccines for all, particularly for probably the most susceptible and needy in all areas of the planet,” he stated.

Whereas the pandemic has created untold hardship for thousands and thousands this yr, it has additionally in lots of locations brought out the best in folks.

“Have we not seen these months of problem marked by numerous acts of random kindness, quiet heroism, selfless service, exceptional group efforts, all directed in the direction of these most in want?” Cardinal Nichols requested in his sermon at Westminster.

Such acts, he stated, had “penetrated the darkness.”

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