INITIATIVES OF THE HOLY FATHER OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD
VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2010 (VIS REPORT) - The Holy See Press Office today announced two initiatives of the Holy Father over the Christmas period.
In the atrium of the Vatican's Paul VI Hall at 1 p.m. on Sunday 26 December, the Pope will offer luncheon to people assisted by the various Roman communities of the Missionaries of Charity, to mark the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday 5 January, eve of the Epiphany, the Holy Father will visit children in Rome's Gemelli hospital. He will bless a new centre for the care of children with spina bifida and participate in the distribution of presents to the young patients.
VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2010 (VIS) - On 12 December Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, sent a message for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to media workers in Latin America.
"The continental mission which is taking place in Latin America", Archbishop Celli writes, "is leading many people to a new awareness of what it means of be disciples of Jesus. The local churches enthusiastically encourage this undertaking, reminding people that being Christ's disciples means having experienced an authentic encounter with Him. ... This experience permanently marks and transforms life, and for this reason we wish to communicate it to others, thus becoming missionaries ourselves".
The meeting with the Lord, the prelate continues his message, "has many aspects. It is a personal but also a community experience; it comes about in solitude and silence, but also and especially in liturgical celebrations and family life. It draws nourishment from dialogue and community prayer, ... and culminates in activity and service".
The archbishop then goes on to invite people "to enjoy moments of silence during these days of Advent, so as to listen to the voice of Jesus which speaks to our hearts. ... Let us stem the flood of daily cares and noises which so often overwhelms us. Silence is like a white screen upon which we can project the film of our daily life so as to see it more clearly. If we projected it on a wall full of pictures, books and other objects, and with a background noise, we would perceive little. Only in silence can we make our choices with greater awareness. In silence we hear the voice of God, and thus become genuine bearers of His Word".
"This is, perhaps, difficult advice to follow at a time in which we are constantly bombarded with information, a time of pastoral needs and of hard work in our families, communications media and parishes. Yet, ... should we not also prepare the contents of what we are to communicate via radio, newspapers, television programmes and websites? What satisfying message can we give if our lives are full only of repeated words, with little substance and scarce content. Let us dedicate time to the Lord Whom we await in this period of Advent".
Archbishop Celli concludes his message by asking Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is also patron of RIIAL (The Information Network of the Church in Latin America) that "to obtain for us the gift of inner silence from God, ... that He may make our words, texts, images and music fruitful vehicles of the Good News".
VATICAN CITY, 14 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Yesterday evening the Holy Father received in audience a group of Japanese bishops.
CBN REPORT: A group of underprivileged children in Texas received an early Christmas surprise with the help of some of the players from the National Football League's Houston Texans.
Thirty children from the Houston YMCA Boys and Girls Club were delighted when they discovered the pro football players were personally taking them on a private shopping spree at the Academy Sports and Outdoors Store in Houston.
Each child was given a $100 gift card to purchase Christmas gifts of their choice.
"This is just a good time to spend with the kids, take them out and shop - you know - have fun with them," Texans cornerback Sherrick McManis said.
"Some of them are getting a little carried away," linebacker Isaiah Greenhouse said. "The good thing with girls is they know what they want."
"I'm about to start controlling them with the budget," he added. "Some of them are going a little bit overboard."
Most of the children also picked up a football as part of their purchases.
The Dec. 8 shopping spree was part of the "Shop with a Texan" event held each year by the store.
"Some of them might not get anything for Christmas," the YMCA's Ronald Polk said. "This might be the only thing, you know. It means a lot to the kids."
The institute's executive director, Richard Denniss, said unwanted presents represented a staggering $798 million waste of money, time and resources.
''The growing culture of obligatory giving only brings joy to the big retailers and the big banks whose credit cards are largely funding the annual splurge,'' he said.
The survey also found about one quarter of Australians expect to give presents to people they would prefer not to. And about a quarter of these reluctant givers were unable to pay their credit card in full each month.
''Around one million Australians are spending money they don't have to buy presents they'd rather not give,'' Dr Denniss said.
On a more positive note, nearly four in five respondents would be happy for a donation to be made to a charity on their behalf instead of getting a present.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2010
Kolkata (AsiaNews) - Brother Yesudas is a Missionary of Charity, the male branch of the order founded by Mother Teresa. He has worked for years in the "Shanti Bhavan (House of Peace") in Calcutta, where, along with other brothers and volunteers he cares for people suffering from AIDS and other serious diseases. This Christmas he has shared this reflection with us which we publish below . This Christmas 2010 is special for it is the centenary of the birth of Mother Teresa.
(With contributions from Nirmala Carvalho).
I continue to make my journey in life with the poor and suffering people around me. The year 2010 started with a beautiful reflection of Blessed Mother Teresa in preparation of the centenary of her birth; “We have been created for greater things, to love and to be loved.” We are all created for greater things!
In our life’s journey, surrounded with the poor and suffering people, “we all learn lots of profound wisdom”.
As the wrinkles appear on our faces in our life journey, we come to admit that our external contribution is totally dependent on the inner energies we generate, the spiritual strength we come to recognize within us. That is what Christmas is all about - it proclaims God is within us as He continues to do His wonders with us.
Our world today sees greater things as our progress of science, the technical advances, our great qualifications , electronic media, entertainment channels, and internet information etc. They are all admirable and amazing achievements of human beings. But in the midst of these admirable achievement we also have lost our innocence , we have lost something of our frankness.
Our true greatness does not make any claim to special qualities, abilities or importance. In true greatness there is simple beauty and transparency of loving and being loved. It is a love that brings life and a life that is ready to die in love. Christmas is a story of love that gives life and a life that is ready to die in love.
For us here in Shanti Bhavan the year has been a discovery of greater things. We have improved our facilities for HIV/AIDS patients and we are in touch with death and life. We accompanied Mr.Omesh Oram with recurrent cryptococcal meningitis for 6 months. Omesh was a silent sufferer fighting for life, and medicine from Luxemburg and Germany did not save him. We accompanied him to the last moment of his journey here on earth. We still continue to walk with his suffering wife and children. Our service is a little communion in love with this family.
We also walked with Mr.Sanjib Saha for two months. He lived on the street. He came to us with advanced HIV infections of tuberculosis in its worse manifestations .He was also struck with most painful and aggressive types of tumours on his gum which was continually bleeding .In the midst of all his suffering he was happy and grateful for the shelter and care we offered. As I watched his death, I saw his eyes were opened and he looked at us with great thankfulness .
A few weeks ago I took Mrs.Mamata Banarjee from the Tropical School of Medicine to our Sisters’ home for the women who are suffering from HIV/AIDS . She was 45 years old and weighed only 22 kilos. In the terminal stage of her illness, bed ridden with dissemination of infections of tuberculosis, viral and fungal infections, her face was filled with the shadow of distress and the inner anguish was strangling her slowly. She was not able to utter a word but looked at us with hope. The sister with great care bathed her and spoke to her in her broken Bengali. The voice of the sister was a great consolation for Mamata. The next day her face was more radiant and with her soft voice she could say to me;“I am feeling better”.
The other side of our journey here is to contemplate the beauty of people who were once upon a time very sick and dying, now helping others who need care and attention. Ashram, Kanai, and Robi are a part of this apostolate here in Tengra. They are always there to help others in their needs. They are so grateful for the support and care which they have received from the Brothers and they want to give their lives in the service of others who are in need. It is also so enriching to contemplate the growing communion in the families of Mr.Dilip, Mr.Silender Nath Mete, Biswajit and others who have come to life and returned to their jobs. From their broken heart flows a joy of communion .
I see every day Mr. Hemanto Mukarjee drag himself towards the little garden in front of our house to water the plants. He suffers from AIDS associated arthropathy and in the midst of acute pain in his knees, elbows and shoulders, he wants to feel useful and creative. When I see the little flowers open out to the sunshine in the morning , I meditate on the beauty God has made through the creative power of Hemanto. Beyond pain we are called to discover the joy and power of love. Each of those flowers in the little garden proclaims the love and goodness of Hemanto. In my contemplation I see this goodness spreading out to each Brother and to every one who lives here.
In our participation in the goodness of people, we become more compassionate and radiate the warmth of God who was born at Christmas .Let your celebration of Christmas and New Year be a participation in the goodness of people who are least in your family and community.
St. John of the Cross
DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH, FOUNDER, GREAT MYSTICAL THEOLOGIAN
Feast: December 14
|Matthew 21: 28 - 32|
|28||"What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'|
|29||And he answered, `I will not'; but afterward he repented and went.|
|30||And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir,' but did not go.|
|31||Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.|
|32||For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.|