Chennai – The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s eternal love and mercy. It assumed the whole of humanity. Jesus especially identified the poor, suffering, and the weaker of society with Him and took the human flesh as One among them and One for them. Today’s world, in the name of newness and constant change exploits these people and further victimizes them. Therefore, to heal broken and exploited humanity, our beloved pope, in his recent apostolic letter “Mercy and Misery,” to close the Year of Mercy, solicits all humanity to the pragmatic aspect of Mercy. He calls on Catholics to work to “restore dignity to people, especially those who do not have work, do not have homes, are marginalized, are hungry, must migrate, are in prison in inhuman conditions or do not have access to education.” To practice human kindness and love Don Guanella Evening School organized a suppose Christmas celebration for all the poor children from the slums and impoverished families. The simple service rendered to those faces of Christ made a greater witness to the surrounding which is filled with people of other faiths and traditions. Everyone irrespective of social boundaries joined as one family of love and fraternity to celebrate the birth of peace, justice and joy. The celebration included cultural programs and gift distribution. The confreres and children made the day a very meaningful preparation to celebrate Christmas.
Bangalore – Don Guanella Oratory in Bangalore celebrated suppose Christmas at Guanella Preethi Nivas in a grand and meaningful way. With a gracious spiritual start the program began its richness with singing, dancing, party games, gifts sharing and other competitive programs. The dignitaries present at the event were very happy and amazed by the little works and gifts of charity rendered to the poor children. A thought provoking message about Christmas and New Year was given. The motivation and encouragement of the speech made the gathering more energized and strengthened.
By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC
Dear Bothers and Sisters in Christ, as I prepared the homily for the first Sunday of Advent, I came across one of the concepts of celebrating the birth of Jesus, the second coming and my personal encounter of the Lord when He will call me, sooner than later at my age. I realized that I needed to examine myself. I would like to share the result with you.
Ah, Christmas! “The most wonderful time of the year.” Of course, it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” but we must not forget what really matters. A time to gather with family and friends and, with smiles on our faces, pretend we aren’t quietly measuring who received the best present and which of our relatives really, really needs to stop drinking. A time to hang tinsel and baubles from the tree, and a time to hang up our hopes of losing those last 10 pounds this year.
Such a joyous season! The real point here is Christmas is what we make of it.
For Christians, however, there are some very specific things you can’t do if you want to actually honor and follow the person we say we celebrate this season.
So, I give myself and other Christians five things we should do at Christmas.
1) Remember Those Without Food
Jesus once said that when we feed the hungry we are feeding Him. Anyone want to guess what it means when we ignore the hungry? How about forgetting about hungry children and their families as we scrape the leftover Christmas ham from our plates into the trash? Maybe we need to change the name of the season to Gluttonousmas? Too many presents, too much food, too little consideration for those in need.
2) Remember Those Without Shelter
One of the key moments in the story Christians celebrate is the moment when Jesus was almost born in the streets of Bethlehem. Our need to clean up the Christmas story assumes that the innkeeper told them to use the manger but the Bible says no such thing. There was no room at the inn, leaving Mary to place her newborn child in a smelly feeding trough. For that night they were without shelter. Throughout His life Jesus would spend His ministry with no place to lay His head. This time of year we celebrate a homeless man. Do our actions, do the places we spend our money, honor that?
3) Remember the Message about Resisting Abusive Power
Mary and Joseph and their family had to flee their homeland because King Herod strong-handedly used his power to squash out what he saw as a threat to his power. I can guarantee you two things: One, in the house where Jesus grew up, the narrative of why they had to flee to Egypt and of the senseless deaths imposed on other families by the powerful was a story that was told time and time again. Two, the focus on abuse of power in Jesus’ teaching and His constant willingness to confront it was no accident. Christmas should cause Christians to recommit to confronting those who abuse power.
4) Remember Those Without Presents
If you have two coats give one away. In announcing the coming of Jesus, John the Baptist told us what God was asking of us. Coats are just an example, a placeholder if you will. If you have two Christmas presents, give one away.
5) Distinguish the Religious Observance with the Secular Holiday
It may be that December 25th was picked as the date to celebrate Jesus’ birth to compete with or even to adopt the followers of the pagan celebration of Saturnalia, which included decorating with evergreens, gift giving and parties. Why does that seem so familiar? I bring this up to make a simple point. A lot of our “War on Christmas” problems would rightfully go away if we simply acknowledged that there are two celebrations of Christmas each year. One is religious and one is not.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Saigon – This was the first Christmas in our new house and to celebrate, the community organized a small program for the street children of the area on Christmas day. Not all the children are Catholics, some are Buddhist and some don’t follow any religion. The students played party games with the children on a football court near the house. The place was beautiful and more safe. After the games and dancing Christmas gifts were shared with all the children. Most of them are from a simple and poor families. The new students were very happy about sharing their time, energy and gifts with the children. May this year of mercy be full of sharing little things with others.
Chennai – December 21 was a remarkable day for the Don Guanella Evening School Children, they celebrated Suppose Christmas. In spite of their unfamiliarity with Christianity, they enjoyed the celebration by the touching events organized by the leaders and those in charge. Rev. Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, was invited as the Chief Guest for the celebration and gave an inspirational talk that touched the hearts of the children. He started the celebration with the blessing of the Child Jesus statue and the Creche. The children entertained the audience with their colorful dances, songs, skits and gift exchange. Moreover, they were delighted by the lunch bags that Fr. Soosai gave as Christmas gifts for all Seventy-two children. The children were refreshed by the snacks donated by the family of Rev. Fr. Pravin Vinodh Raj who came to celebrate with them. His family members also entertained the children with dance and song.
Pforzheim – The weather has become really chilly, but the squares of our adoptive town are decorated with many splendid arches. Every corner attracts with illuminated windows, and the air smells of fresh Christmas cakes. The Old German Christmas traditions are still alive, although old Pforzheim has become a cosmopolitan ambiance; especially on weekends when you meet people from all four corners of the globe. This is because Germany is still an open society and offers many employment opportunities to thousands of new Italian immigrants. As you see I’m not a missionary at the Guanellian front narrating religious events, but a simple layman who is trying to bring Germany and its traditions closer to the readers of the DPP newsletter.
During the first Sunday of Advent, Inge and I made a promenade into downtown. The pictures we’re sending you should bring you to the place where our two confreres have created the 21st tent of charity. Pforzheim has become the German “motherhouse” for present and future activities. On December 14th we’ll have the honor and pleasure of introducing the successor of Father Guanella to his 21st daughter. During their visit to the MCI Italian mission, they and our confreres as well the Guanellian Procura will meet with Dean Berhard Ihle and his Vice-Dean Dr. Johannes Mette who is the parish priest of St. Anthony Church. It is just 100m from the offices of the first Guanellian mission in our beloved country.
Furthermore, we are going to accompany Fr. Alfonso and Fr. Luigi to the annual Lutheran Desk caring for homeless people, poor and abandoned children, and immigrant families under the significant Motto, “I was hungry and you invited me to share with you bread and water.”
Other intended meetings will be with the local Charitas because of its impact in the city spectrum as a lantern of charity. Mr. Lemke, Director of Charitas Pforzheim, is a friend of our MCI because he has known the charism of the Guanellians from my former employment at Charitas since 1966.
Before next Christmas, we will re-activate our old contacts at Missio-Munich, Kindermission at Aachen, Adveniat and Miserere Catholic and Lutheran Solidarity agencies. As thanks for their constructive help during the past year, we’ll send them a Sicilian almond cake so that in 2015 when we knock at their door, they will not disregard our applications and requests for financial help for our Missions.
Finally we have the pleasure of informing our English readers that our Procura has been officially incorporated into the entities depending on the General House in Rome. We intend to continue sharing our activities with all Guanellian provinces. Therefore we’ll also send our news stories to our Spanish and French publications, as well as to the official Guanellian News.
May the start of Advent link us to prepare our hearts and minds to the arrival of the Savior Child.
Venite adoramus Dominum, qui hodie pro nobis natus est.
Come and adore the Lord, because today he was born for us.
With best wishes for a grace filled Christmas Night, we offer our prayers for a new, holy and blessed 2015.
Gero Lombardo, German Guanellian Procura
We have just begun the season of Advent which recalls to our memory the coming of Jesus Christ our Savior on Christmas Day. This is a time of hope and expectation for the coming of Christ. We follow the spectacular consequence of our consumerist tradition in shopping and in an external preparation. The mystery of the Incarnation has been reduced to decorations and we have lost sight of the true nature.
It is not only important to know that God became man but it is also quite interesting to learn what type of man he became. I have read in the latest arrival “In Love With Christ”, the secret of St. Francis of Assisi by Father Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M.CAP, who is integrating the ontological vision of incarnation by describing from John’s Gospel “the word, being God, became man/flesh” and from Paul “Christ, though He was rich, became poor”. Today the humanity and poverty of Christ should be taken seriously in order to understand Christmas. Christmas and the poor cannot be separated. Jesus Christ came for the humble, the little ones, the suffering but this reality never reaches our hearts today.
Jesus came to this world to bring peace and fullness of life. But today catastrophic wars; bottomless cruelty due to extremism and particularly terrorist violence in the name of religion which take away innocent children; people in the war zone; and also false propaganda against life is a great threat for humanity! As religious and people of God, we are called to remain full of hope and to make a grateful remembrance of the recent past and thus open our doors to others. The Year of Consecrated Life speaks of “being in love, of true friendship, of profound communion”. Henceforth, let us take seriously our complexities of Christian living by “being alert and stay awake” to encounter the living Savior of flesh and blood.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
“Christmas is not about candy canes or lights all aglow…….It’s the hearts that we touch and the care that we show.”
Chennai – December 21st was a remarkable day for the Don Guanella Evening School children as they celebrated Suppose Christmas. In spite of their unfamiliarity with Christianity, they enjoyed the celebration by the touching events organized by the leaders. Rev. Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, was the Chief Guest for the celebration and gave an inspirational talk that touched the hearts of the children. He started the celebration by blessing the statue of Jesus in the crib. The children performed colorful dances, songs, skits and shared gifts with each other. Fr. Soosai delighted all 72 children by giving each of them a Christmas Gift, a lunch bag. Toward the end, the children were refreshed by snacks sponsored by the family of Rev. Fr. Pravin Vinodh Raj who came to celebrate Christmas with our children. They also entertained our children by dancing and singing.
CUDDALORE – Love, care, friendship and togetherness make Christmastime all the more unique. Christmas also means spreading the affection of our heart into the lives of others and enjoying good cheer. The Guanellian Community in Cuddalore cherished the moment; celebrating Christ’s birth and the birth of our Founder on December 19th. Our benefactors from Veli – Kunankurichi village were present to celebrate with us. They showed their magnanimity by giving Christmas clothes to each seminarian and all the Boys Home children. They also provided a festive dinner.
Saigon – Christmas and St. Guanella’s birthday were celebrated together, and this year the neighbors were invited to join the celebration. Mass, with the theme “Give Bread and The Lord,” began the events at the Servants of Charity home. Before the homily, the students enacted some scenes of Providential help in the life of St. Guanella. After mass dinner was served. The beauty of this dinner was that the neighbors brought food with them and everyone shared. This is the providence experienced during Christmas; an opportunity to share the vision and mission of our founder, St. Louis Guanella, with the neighbors. The presence of the Servants of Charity is truly felt here in the local parish.