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Greetings to each and everyone of you.


This section for English-speaking viewers –
and all those enjoying the culture –

has developed over the months and is now offering materials of all kinds:

texts, images, poems, videos, etc.

It will continue to provide you with rich contents week after week.

 

The impossible dream…

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The celebrations of Christmas and Epiphany are now behind us. We are moving back into ‘ordinary time’… which is NOT so ordinary! As I was reflecting on this, the melody of a well-known song came back to my mind. It is that of The Impossible Dream from the film The Man of La Mancha.

You may wonder how this happened? Well, I had just come across a short text and the link was made – naturally! This is the text:

« Christianity holds that the infinite God, in the person of Jesus, at a point in time, crossed an unimaginable borderline and personally entered history. Before such an undreamable dream the intellect falters. It was a this point that a friend gave me a clue that helped my understanding more than any measure of bare reason. He sais: ‘But love does such things’. »

Source: Text: Mark Link, s.j., He Is the still Point of the Turning World, p. 25   Pic: www.pinterest.com

 

Epiphany, C

Magi

We often hear the Feast of the Epiphany being called ‘the Feast of the Three Kings’. Yet, the Bible does not mention that they were kings nor that there were three of them! But tradition goes on telling us this and telling us something else as well. Yes, it speaks of the three very special gifts that those Wise Men – for they were really so – brought to the new-born Child. We are told that they offered him gold, incense, and myrrh.

On December 31st, we were looking at the past year and all that the Lord has gifted us with! And today, our celebration speaks again of gifts. This word is very much part of our daily experiences. We buy birthday gifts, we exchange Christmas gifts, we present graduation gifts, and wedding gifts must be given to the newly-wed couple. The list could go on for other special occasions.

Suddenly, I ask myself: Is there a list of gifts for… God? Not many people would have some gold hidden somewhere in their house. Incense is used in church, sometimes too by a few people who say they want to ‘feel zen’! As for myrrh, well even the word itself is a little strange…

What can be offered to God? I found my own answer: the very gifts that he, himself, has given us.
So, today I offer him my intelligence so I may come to know him better.
I present him with my imagination and the creativity he has placed within me.
I give him my will so that he may attune it to his will.
To these, I add my memory and all the wonderful things preciously stored there.
Of course, the health he has blessed me with, the healing after some sickness, the safe journeys, the happy occasions, the fruitful ventures,
the kind people around me, the helpful neighbours and faithful friends, and…
Here… I leave it to you to complete your list while I keep on silently unfolding my other gifts before the Lord……………

International Day of Peace – 1 January

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21 each year to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace. pape for Jan. 1stBut on January 1st, the Church invites believers and all people of good will to pray for Peace and to commit themselves to attitudes that promote PEACE wherever they live and work. For this year’s Day of Peace, Pope Francis has this to say:

« God is not indifferent! God cares about mankind! God does not abandon us! At the beginning of the New Year, I would like to share not only this profound conviction but also my cordial good wishes for prosperity, peace and the fulfilment of the hopes of every man and every woman, every family, people and nation throughout the world, including all Heads of State and Government and all religious leaders. We continue to trust that 2016 will see us all firmly and confidently engaged, on different levels, in the pursuit of justice and peace. Peace is both God’s gift and a human achievement. As a gift of God, it is entrusted to all men and women, who are called to attain it.
Sadly, war and terrorism, accompanied by kidnapping, ethnic or religious persecution and the misuse of power, marked the past year from start to finish. In many parts of the world, these have became so common as to constitute a real “third world war fought piecemeal”. Yet some events of the year now ending inspire me, in looking ahead to the new year, to encourage everyone not to lose hope in our human ability to conquer evil and to combat resignation and indifference. creating peace, freepikThey demonstrate our capacity to show solidarity and to rise above self-interest, apathy and indifference in the face of critical situations. (…)
I would like to make a threefold appeal to the leaders of nations: to refrain from drawing other peoples into conflicts or wars which destroy not only their material, cultural and social legacy, but also – and in the long term – their moral and spiritual integrity; to forgive or manage in a sustainable way the international debt of the poorer nations; and to adopt policies of cooperation which, instead of bowing before the dictatorship of certain ideologies, will respect the values of local populations and, in any case, not prove detrimental to the fundamental and inalienable right to life of the unborn.
I entrust these reflections, together with my best wishes for the New Year, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, who cares for the needs of our human family, that she may obtain from her Son Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the granting of our prayers and the blessing of our daily efforts for a fraternal and united world.

From the Vatican, 8 December 2015,
 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
, Opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

Feast of Mary, Mother of God, C

Moses, uncyclopedia.wiki« I will bless them… »

Our reflection for yesterday – the last day of the year – was inviting us to ‘Count our blessings’.
And our celebration today, on the first day of the New Year is all about BLESSINGS.
The word comes back in different texts of the liturgy.

In the 1st reading (Numbers 6:22-27), we see Moses calling on God’s blessing for his people: “May the Lord bless you…”
And we hear God’s own promise: “And I will bless them.”
The Psalm (66 (67) echoes the same words: “May God be gracious to us and bless us… May God still give us his blessing.”

Nativity Michael Gleghorn.com

As we celebrate today the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, we recall the prayer that we, Christians, address her so many times.
We repeat again and again: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”

In our daily conversation, we do not often mention the word ‘blessing’. We hear people talk about chance, opportunity, good luck. A recent addition to this list is that of ‘synchronicity’ an expression that underlines the fact that something good happened just at the right time. Strangely, the word ‘blessing’ seems absent.

Is it that we do not recognise it under its disguises? Would it be that we no longer discern God’s visitation to us and the many gifts (another word for ‘blessings’) that his coming brings to us? Is it that… we look without seeing, that… we hear without perceiving?

In the text of Luke’s gospel today (2:16-21), we are told: “Mary stored up all these things in her heart.”
Perhaps that was the secret why she was happy (another word for ‘blessed’).
During this festive season, we exchange good wishes of all kinds and we often repeat to all those we meet: ‘HAPPY New Year!’ Yes, we want this new year to be happy in all manner of things.
We want it to be… ‘blessed’, filled with the Lord’s precious gifts as the weeks and months go by.

It will be so, if only we keep in our hearts the memory of God’s repeated blessings reaching us from day to day!

Pics: Moses uncyclopedia.wikia.com      Nativity Michael Gleghorn.com

The year comes to an end

At one time or another, you may have come across a poster with this text: « Count your blessings, not your troubles! » At the end of the year, it is a good thing to look back and see, and recognize, and REALize all that the Lord has done for us.

On Youtube, I came across an Irish choir singing the ever meaningful song composed in 1897 by Johnson Oatman Jr., with this very title: COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS.
Here it is for your enjoyment and reflection.

 

 

 

 

Origin of the Christmas Crib

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The Christmas Crib (crèche) dates back to St. Francis of Assisi (Feast October 4). It was in 1293 that the first crèche was celebrated in the woods of Greccio near Assisi, on Christmas Eve. There lived in that town a man by the name of John (Messier Giovanni Velitta), a very holy man who stood in high esteem. Blessed Francis loved with him a special affection because he despised the nobility of the flesh and strove after the nobility of the soul.

Blessed Francis called upon John about two weeks before Christmas and said to him, “If you desire that we should celebrate this year’s Christmas together at Greccio, go quickly and prepare what I tell you; for I want to enact the memory of the Infant who was born at Bethlehem and how He was bedded in the manger on hay between a donkey and an ox. I want to see all of this with my own eyes.” The good and faithful man departed quickly and prepared everything that the Saint had told him. The Friars who had come from many communities, gathered around St. Francis as did the men and women of the neighborhood. They bought candles and torches to brighten the night. St. Francis arrived and saw that everything had been prepared. The crib was ready, hay was brought, the ox and the donkey were led to the spot. Greccio became a new Bethlehem. The crowds gathered and rejoiced in the celebration. Solemn Mass was sung.

St. Francis’ idea of bringing Bethlehem into one’s own town spread quickly all over the Christian world, and soon there were Christmas cribs in churches and homes.

Source: http://www.catholicdoors.com/misc/christmascrib.htm                Pic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ak_win/

Christmas Vigil

Simple_sunrise

« The tender mercy of our God will bring the rising sun to visit us,
to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace. »

(Canticle of the Benedictus, Luke 1:78-79)

Feast of the Holy Family, C

I have a treasure. No, I am not afraid it will be stolen for it does not hold any silver or gold, nor any valuable currency. What I keep therein is a whole collection of texts and quotes – texts and quotes from many people, some long dead, others alive in our world, all over the world. Today, I want to share one such text with you. It was published in Living with Christ ( the English version of Prions en Église). It was published for Christmas  1980. At the time, Fr. Jerome Herauf wrote:

« God is ‘at home with us’. People travelling, or exiled from their native lands, long to be home again. This same expectant feeling may have grown on us during our Advent days. Recently, I was delighted to read a prominent theologian speculate that God felt the same way about being with us that first Christmas. He longed to be ‘at home’ with us. The more I have thought about this since, the more it has affected my own understanding about us, about Christmas and even about God himself. God is at home with us because he wants to be! And therefore could we not want rather than fear to be with him? »

Mary-and-Joseph on the way, www.lds.org

Mary and Joseph would not be home for Christmas. They were among what we call nowadays the IDP – Internally Displaced People – on the way to a major city and soon to become refugees in another country. The new-born child was taken to safety by his parents fleeing to escape violence and possible death. He knew early on in life what is the lot of so many people in our world today.

Today, we remember all those who find themselves in such a situation – exiles, refugees –  faced with insecurity, anxiety, lacking the basic necessities of life, and not knowing what the future has in store for them . . .

Pic source: www.lds.org

Christmas, C

CHRISTMAS, a time to rejoice and to celebrate. We somehow move a short distance away from our routine tasks and daily activities. We try to take time – time to reflect, time to look at things, situations, and people, in a different way. Strange, but it seems that those very things, situations and people that are part of our daily lives suddenly take on, is it a glow? Or a meaning? that was not there before… It is as if things around us now have a special quality, a special depth, drawing our attention, perhaps even our admiration.

NativityReflecting on this, I started looking at the texts of the Christmas liturgy. Different aspects struck me: the light, the simplicity, the newness, the peace, that a birth – THE birth – of this God-Child brought into our world. It happened long ago, but the effect is enduring, permanent!

Then, one short text came to my mind. It stood out, not of those beautiful Christmas readings, but it appeared suddenly from the often-repeated ritual of the daily Eucharistic celebration. The words are spoken by the priest when he addresses us, saying: « The Lord is with you. »

A new meaning dawned on me and I know that, when I hear these words during the Christmas celebration, I will be tempted to reply: « HE IS ! » « Yes, indeed, HE IS, ‘GOD-WITH-US’! »

This is in fact, the meaning of all that happens during this season, what people call « the reason for the season »! It is announced at the very beginning of the gospel of Luke and it is confirmed at the end of the gospel of Matthew by that Child who has become a man who promises: « Behold, I am with you until the end of time! » (Mt.28:20) This is Christmas for me…

Pic: www.rforh.com