A message from five centuries ago

I found the following letter on a Christmas card sometime in the ’60s. In those days, no one was embarassed to acknowledge that Christmas originally was a religious holiday. When you bought Christmas cards, it was as often for the message as for the illustrations. I have never found anything I liked as much as this message from a 16th century Italian monk. So here is my wish for your new year:

“There is nothing I can give you which you do not have but there is much that while I cannot give it, you can take. “No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today.  Take heaven.  No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.  Take peace. 

“The gloom of the world is but a shadow.  Behind it, yet within its reach is joy.  There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see, and to see we have only to look.  I beseech you to look. “Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.  Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. 

“Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.  Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, the angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence.  Our joys too, be not content with them as joys.  They too conceal diviner gifts. “And so at this time I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings but with profound esteem and the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and shadows flee away.” 

                                      Fra Giovanni ~ 1513

Happy new year 2007 to all 


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