When we pause for a moment to think critically about our celebrations, we realize that many of them are related to our customs and traditions, with variations according to cultures, religions and the various situations on our planet. All of them, however, agreed upon by historical and social circumstances, are charged with symbolism - an expression of the meaning of life in its most diverse manifestations.

This is also how we celebrate the New Year, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one.

We celebrate to welcome a new chapter in our lives, a new opportunity for our deepest wishes to come true and we wish for a happy new year, because we would like to be able to “turn the page” of the year, marking the end of a stage, being able to leave certain things behind, not to carry over into the next year everything that was negative. This deep desire for transformation, celebrated collectively, brings renewed energy that pushes us towards more and better.

The first day of January was proclaimed the World Day of Peace by Pope Paul VI.

The word peace is pronounced and repeated countless times in the New Year wishes we exchange among ourselves. Yes, we desire peace.

But in this world marked by wars, conflicts and violence of all kinds, peace seems an unattainable utopia. We experience an uncomfortable sense of impotence and ambiguity.

We also know that the end of tensions between peoples and nations comes about through conscious decisions taken in view of this goal. So we can and must ask ourselves: In what way am I/we, in our communities and groups, making conscious decisions to build peace?

The Christian faith renewed in the celebration of the Birth of Jesus, coloured by the Charism of Communion and Family that we share, impels us to be protagonists in new relationships, inspired by the values and virtues of our life models - Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We are challenged not only to hope and strive for peace - the absence of conflict - but to be a presence of peace, nurturing in ourselves and around us love, compassion, welcome, care…

As we welcome the first day of 2023, let us be led by the Spirit of God within, who takes us beyond chronological time, and let us celebrate this new year as Kairós, an opportunity for transformation in each one of us and around us.

Sr. Geni Dos Santos

General Councilor