Each year, the approaching winter season is an opportunity for many faith communities to give generously to those in need. In these times of socio-economic hardship exacerbated by high inflation, the members of the Quebec Interfaith Roundtable invite all people to take part and care for the most vulnerable members of our society throughout Quebec.
For many faith communities, including those of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, the holidays are times of prayer, commemoration and mutual aid. Spiritual retreat and family celebrations are therefore closely associated with actions advocating for greater social justice.
It is well known that for Christian communities in Quebec, the arrival of winter heralds Advent and Christmas, seasons characterized by the hope and joy of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus. Christmas food drives, benefit concerts, the preparation of Christmas baskets and other activities meet the increasing call for generosity at this time of year, as the darkness of winter begins to make way for the light.
Jewish communities observe Hanukkah at this time of year: the "Festival of Lights," celebrated from December 18 to 26 in 2022. A special candelabra (the Hanukkah menorah) is lit to symbolize and celebrate the triumph of light and freedom over darkness and oppression. These themes, along with those of charity (tzedakah) and world repair (tikkun olam), are major pillars of the Jewish faith.
Following the lunar calendar of Muslim communities, different holidays may fall during the winter season in Quebec. In 2023, the date of February 18 will be the occasion to celebrate Lailat al Miraj (al-Isra), commemorating the Night Journey and Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad. This will be followed in the spring by the holy month of Ramadan (March 22 to April 20), at the conclusion of which, all Muslims who have fasted give special alms for the poor (zakat al-Fitr).
Very often, around religious holidays, social activities are organized by faith communities to help alleviate the isolation and loneliness experienced by many, particularly the elderly and those newly arrived in Quebec. Then, throughout the year, our communities carry on their support for a broad range of community organizations on the ground, including soup kitchens, food banks and clothing counters, many of which are housed within the places of worship. This proximity illustrates how the spiritual dimension and the concern for justice go hand in hand. Every year, thousands of volunteer hours and several million dollars are donated by members of the various faith communities, not only to those of their own confessions, but to all Quebecers in need.
The ongoing reality of the need for such assistance is a reminder to us all of the importance of acting collaboratively as we strive to create conditions for a more just world. For these reasons, the members of the Quebec Interfaith Roundtable Table invite the entire population of Quebec to be generous to those in need.
Msgr. Pierre Murray, C.S.S,
Moderator, the Quebec Interfaith Roundtable
514-914-0553 – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Quebec Interfaith Roundtable brings together representatives of a variety of Christian churches, Jewish traditions and different mosques, as well as the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism.