Christmas Letter from Fr Toby Lees
Written by Radio Maria England on 20/12/2022
Dear Listeners and Friends of Radio Maria,
Of her who not only
gave God’s infinity
dwindled to infancy
welcome in womb and breast,
birth, milk, and all the rest
The Word that is Jesus is not a distant word, it’s not a word whispered in a far away place in a far away time, it is a fleshy word that transforms every place in which it is truly heard. The Word dwells in the tabernacle of the Church and in our hearts, and it transforms every aspect of human life, ‘birth, milk, and all the rest’.
GK Chesterton wrote that ‘The Catholic Church saves us from spirituality’. This can be a jarring phrase. As is so often the case, Chesterton’s brilliance lies in getting us to think again, to examine things we’ve taken for granted and to see them afresh. That’s what the so-called developed world so badly needs, thinking that it’s rejected Christianity, the truth is that so few have encountered it. That’s a fault that lies on both sides of the atheist-religious divide.
What Chesterton realised is that the Catholic Church is not about a private spirituality, but a lived transformative reality. When the Word becomes flesh, it is not to free us from our bodies, but to redeem all of creation, which is why we look forward to the Resurrection of the Body. The human person is properly bodily, the way we express our love for one another is through our bodies, and any religion which did not take account of the body would only be a religion for a part of the person. Catholicism is no such thing – the whole body is spiritual and there is no true spirituality which is not embodied.
Part of the beauty of radio is that you can listen as you undertake all those everyday tasks, as you take out the rubbish, as you do the gardening, as you wash-up the dishes, as you drive to and from work or school. In all this Radio Maria hopes to bring the Word of God into your everyday, transforming the quotidian, just as Christ transforms all of existence, making the ordinary filled with extraordinary love. ‘Birth, milk and all the rest’ . . . you might not listen whilst giving birth (although why not, perhaps we’ll be more calming than your husband!), but we certainly hope we can be there during ‘all the rest’!
On the subject of not being there just for special occasions, but for all occasions . . . it’s also the case that we don’t only have bills to pay at Christmas, just as for you, they come all the year. We appreciate times are tough for many people, but we’re hoping that this Christmas, as well as any Christmas gift you might have intended to make, that you consider setting up a standing order or some other regular donation so that we have more security as we move forward into the new year. The gift of the Incarnation is both God’s gift and Mary’s gift to us. Your generosity helps us to be more like Mary and bring the ‘Word who became flesh and dwelt amongst us’ into many more lives.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas and every blessing for the year ahead.
Fr Toby Lees OP