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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.

 

2nd Sunday of the Year, C

The Wedding Feast at Canathefirstmiracle_wide_t

It seems that we know the text of this gospel scene so well (Jn.2:1-11), we could repeat it with all its details. And that is precisely the danger: perhaps we know it too well!

If someone were to ask me to summarize this text in a few sentences, I would say this. For me this scene is about a woman’s attention and sensitivity to the needs of those around her. And the sensitivity and compassion of God-made-man to those around him.

1st miracle, cana, www.chaosnode.netI can imagine Mary noticing what was happening – a serious shortage of wine for the feast – and making a ‘sign’ to her son, Jesus. Then, THE ‘sign’ followed – that of Jesus, his miracle, changing the water into wine. This part is the one that remains imprinted in our memories, but the previous section is as important: the noticing and the feeling concerned, concerned enough to do something about the situation of need.

We may not be able to work miracles in the strict sense of the word. But do you know the miracles of the 3 Cs? CONCERN, COMPASSION, CARE. These miracles, I am convinced that the Spirit in us is willing to enable us to do them – if only we ask him and are willing, ourselves, to act on his impulse.

Source: Images: kitwechurch.com; www.chaosnode.net

Pope Francis’ first book

Copies of Pope Francis’ first book ‘The Name of God is Mercy ‘ are adjusted on a shelf ahead of its official launch, in Rome, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. The book, a 100-page conversation with Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, is being published this week in 86 countries to help kick-start Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy. Tuesday’s official presentation with a high-level panel discussion featuring Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and actor Roberto Benigni signals the importance Francis places on getting the message out.

pope with microphone

Pope, mercy

Copies of Pope Francis' first book 'The Name of God is Mercy ' are adjusted on a shelf ahead of its official launch, in Rome, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. The book, a 100-page conversation with Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, is being published this week in 86 countries to help kick-start Francis' Holy Year of Mercy. Tuesday's official presentation with a high-level panel discussion featuring Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and actor Roberto Benigni signals the importance Francis places on getting the message out. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Source: Images: (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino; www.religionnews.com; www.dailynews.co.uk; www.newsinfo.inquirer.net

 

Ordinary time?

the-different-between-ordinary-and-extraordinary-is-that-little-extra, designcarrot.coChristmas has gone by, the New Year has been with us for 10 days now, and we have celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – so we are back to ‘ordinary time’, or… are we?

« It might seem like a contradiction in terms but Ordinary time can be special. Most of our lives are ordinary. They are not spectacular, full of extraordinary experiences or achievements. We live in quite ordinary houses and do ordinary jobs and have ordinary friends. But that is where we meet God. In our day-to-day relationships, whether working or out of work with the children, in the parish, going shopping, planning our day or simply doing what we’re told, we are walking with the Lord.

Ordinary is described as ‘normal, customary, usual, commonplace,’ and that is where we are most of the time. And that is also where God loves us most of the time. He loves each one of us with a personal love. He makes the ordinary to be quite extraordinary and special.« 

Source: Ed. Hone, cssr., Sunday Bulletin, 2nd Sunday in ordinary time, 19th January 1992

The Baptism of the Lord, C

mother new-born canstockI heard a sad but very inspiring story which I will share here with you. A woman pregnant with her first child became very sick during the fourth month of her pregnancy. Her condition was very serious and the doctor soon realised that she did not have a chance of remaining alive herself unless he prescribed some medication that could have negative effects on the child. He made this clear and told the women that she needed to decide very soon as it was a matter or urgency It was also obvious that at this stage the foetus would not live on its own. After much soul searching on the part of the mother-to-be and her husband, it was decided that the treatment should be administered. The woman survived and the pregnancy came to its full nine months when the woman gave birth to a baby boy. She was overjoyed.

When she was given her new-born, she held it close to her heart and kept repeating: « My previous little one, my beautiful child, my treasure! » She was beaming with joy completely oblivious to he serious face of the nurse who had given her the baby to hold. She had noticed how the baby was born with a hare-lip and later she was heard telling another nurse that the child’s face was ‘crooked’, as she said it. But the following days saw the mother remaining with the same admiring gaze on her little treasure and she would whisper to him: « My precious one, my beloved. »

JesusBaptismYou may be surprised to read that this story came back to my mind as I reflected on the readings of this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In the gospel (Luke 3:15-16,21-22), the Father used the same language about his Son whom he called « the Beloved ». Of course, Jesus had no blemish or defect of any kind. No, the story made me think of… ourselves and how the Father looked on us at our baptism! We were – we are – truly his beloved ones, we are precious in his sight and he loves us more than any human mother can cherish her new-born. He is not blind to our faults and defects, our sins ans miseries of all kinds. But none of these can prevent him from loving us. At times, we make serious efforts to ‘beautify’ ourselves in his sight, and surely our efforts must be pleasing to him as they express our desire to become more as he wants us to be. But, above all, it is not so much what we do that can make us more pleasing to him but what we allow him to do in us!

A medieval mystic, Margery Kemp, said that, in a visitation, the Lord told her: « More than your prayers, your devotions, your fasts, and all that you for me, what is most pleasing to me is that you believe that I love you. »

This may be the meaning of today’s feast: to allow the Lord to take delight in us as his beloved children and to believe that we are indeed precious to him!

Source: Pics:  Can Stock Photo    www.photobucket.com

 

World Day of War Orphans – January 6

Civilians bear the brunt of the suffering in war. Of the big number of war victims, the most often neglected are children. Orphans throughout the world face many challenges: Malnutrition, starvation, disease, and decreased social attention. As the most vulnerable population on planet Earth, they have no one to protect them and are most likely to suffer from hunger, disease, and many other problems. In recent decades, the proportion of civilian casualties in armed conflicts has increased dramatically and is now estimated at more than 90 per cent. About half of the victims are children.

An estimated 20 million children have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict and human rights violations and are living as refugees in neighbouring countries or are internally displaced within their own national borders. More than 2 million children have died as a direct result of armed conflict over the last decade.
More than three times that number, at least 6 million children, have been permanently disabled or seriously injured.

war orphans b. ABSFreePic.com

More than 1 million have been orphaned or separated from their families.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 children are killed or maimed by landmines every year.
An estimated 300,000 child soldiers – boys and girls under the age of 18 – are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. Child soldiers are used as combatants, messengers, porters, cooks and to provide sexual services. Some are forcibly recruited or abducted, others are driven to join by poverty, abuse and discrimination, or to seek revenge for violence enacted against themselves and their families.

Sadly, however, they rarely receive the time, attention, and love for optimal social and personal development. Research reveals that children growing up in an orphanage experience emotional, social, and physical handicaps. Without a doubt, the best place for a child to grow up is in a stable family with a loving father and mother.

Source: Text http://buchionline.blogspot.hu/2011/01/world-day-for-war-orphans.html
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/296766/world-day-war-orphans-january-6-2011-highlighting-plight-150-million-children#.UM5YRuSIX-0

Pic: ABSFreePic.com

 

The impossible dream…

8de44949a85507102f6b9c81dc701e7c

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