From An Claidheamh Soluis, December 22, 1906.
In the days of solemn but joyous expectancy which precede the coming of Him on Whom the old Gaedhil bestowed the loving pet name of “Iosagán,” one is scarcely in the mood to write, or indeed to think, of the stresses, the ironies, the disappointments, the petty triumphs and failures, of which even so generous and altruistic a movement as this of ours is in large part made up. In the consciousness of most of us there is a region too private and consecrate for the intrusion even of the fine ambitions and the noble cares of a thing so impersonal as the language movement. Here dwell our faith and hope in God, our great content in the certainty of His love, our yearnings for the peace of His home; here dwell the secret aspirations after spiritual perfection, the secret desire for spiritual trials, which men and women so often experience, yet seldom speak of even to their most intimate friends; here, too, dwell our mingled joy and sorrow for the holy dead of our own households; and here our tenderness for our fathers and mothers, for our brothers and sisters, for our sons and daughters, for our wives or husbands, for the women or the men whom we love. Many of us, alas! are so preoccupied with our work or our pleasure that we habitually stint this humane and gracious side of our nature, often condemn and despise it, or are half-apologetic for it, sometimes do it cruel and irreparable violence. This is not natural or healthy. No earthly cause is so sacred, no merely mundane work, and assuredly no merely mundane pleasure, so worthy as to claim the undivided allegiance of any human heart.
Let us, recognising this, give up our Christmastide to the sweet companionships for which we spare so little of the work-a-day year. The companionship, first, of Him Who is born again into our midst on Christmas morning and Whose coming to dwell under our roofs we should welcome with the bounding yet reverent joy of the old Irish poet;
Alar lium im’ disirtán.
Cia beth clérech co lín rét
Is bréc uile acht Ísucán!
Altram alar lium im’ thig
Ní haltram nach doer-athaig,
Íhu! co feraib nime,
Rem’ cride cech n-oen adaigh!
The companionship, next, of our own holiest and loftiest thoughts. The companionship, finally, of our friends – those who are near us, those who are far from us, and those whom, at once near and far, we no longer see nor hear, though they often tread by our side, and, as we sit in some fireside reverie, lay on us caressing hands. Happy is he to whom the days of Nodlaig bring such silent and beloved visitors as these!