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Displaying items by tag: Christmas

Wednesday, 08 December 2021 16:45

For an Advent without utopias

While the marketing strategies deployed for the much-needed restart of consumption are shining everywhere with the wishes for the "seasonal festivities", the Advent Calendar is also on offer with chocolates and other attractions for children and adults with nostalgia for their childhood.

In a world with few certainties, hopes for "recovery and resilience" are entrusted to the expertise of politicians, economists, scientists, and even more to the hard work of those who work or do voluntary work, i.e. the commitment of "families and businesses". But we seem to have to limit ourselves to more or less optimistic forecasts, continually grappling with the variations - health, geopolitical, ecological, financial - that put the budgets of families as well as states to the test.

So also Christian Advent - a liturgical time that retraces God's journey towards man, within history - seems to be emptied of the perception of an arrival ("Behold, he who takes upon himself the sin of the world", Jn 1:29), and also of the perception of an uninterrupted presence in our history ("I am with you always, until the fullness of time", Mt 28:20).

And yet, paradoxically, the improbable camouflages of this Advent, just as they reduce the alacrity of man's journey in search of God, can restore awareness of the initiative of God's journey in search of man, as the Jewish philosopher Abraham Heschel already pointed out.

Our questions, our expectations, our prayers, are nothing more than responses - mostly awkward and inadequate - to the One who comes to seek us out and to share our journey.

And the essential thing is not to find Him, but to let ourselves be found by Him. Catherine of Siena understood the paradox of a God who responds to the Christian's prayer - "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter in me" - with: "But I am worthy to enter in you!” (Legenda maior, 192).

“There are no easy answers to complex problems," recalled Pope Francis at the refugee reception centre in Mytilene, "instead, we need to accompany processes from within”.

God takes us seriously. And if we realise this, life changes.
Published in IN DIALOGUE
Thursday, 24 December 2020 10:00

Let's rediscover the crib

"Peace on earth to men, loved by the Lord!": The Gloria of the third edition of the Missal introduced in the liturgy, the new translation of Lk 2:14, which overcomes, even in Italian, the traditional misunderstanding resulting from the erroneous interpretation of the text in Latin: translating materially it had highlighted the "good will" of those who welcome the mystery of Christmas, while the original Greek text of the Gospel speaks of the "beautiful plan" that God has for human beings, and this project is the Incarnation of the Son: a free divine initiative, springing from the Trinitarian life. The angels announce it on the night of Bethlehem, expanding to universal announcement what was beginning as an announcement brought to a group of shepherds. And they did not stay there to look at the sky, where the multitude of angels had disappeared, but they said to each other, sensibly: "Let us therefore go to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us" (Lk 2:15). What they found was precisely the sign announced by the angel: a newborn lying in a manger. Tradition has then added the ox and the donkey to Mary and Joseph, suggested by biblical references, of course, but also by a healthy popular realism, given that the Gospel account speaks of a manger.

Those shepherds and that manger certainly did not smell of bubble bath, but - paradoxically - the sign is right there in the middle, it is that Child who has no other word to say, on Christmas night.

Centuries of artistic masterpieces on the mystery of the Nativity should not make us lose sight of the stupendous concreteness of the sign offered by God to humanity, loved by him as it is, without aesthetic adjustments. God became incarnate in a human context made of light and earth: the love of Mary and Joseph but also the smells of a stable ... Luigia Tincani's Christmas wish did not forget this: Jesus "appeared on the straw, accepted the needs and trials of nature, he came and dwelt among sinners ": this year many events (including the experiences lived by those who are healed of the covid) make us reflect on the frailty of the human being and the difficulties of earthly existence: and the Son of God wanted to assume all this, to the end, to transfigure it.

All this comes to mind while reading the scandalized messages that bounce on social media about the nativity scene installed this year in St. Peter's Square:  can’t it be an opportunity to rediscover the theological reality of Christmas, welcoming the "beautiful project" of God on each of us, without the need for any make-up?

The choice is ours. Merry Christmas!
Published in IN DIALOGUE
Tuesday, 24 December 2019 17:32

Read the events of history with the light of faith

The beautiful and profound passage of the Gospel that the liturgy of Christmas Eve offered us for meditation and preparation for the event of the Holy Night, can guide us in retracing the journey we have made and we are yet to make. We read in the words of the prophet Zechariah, who outlines the vocation of his son John the Baptist, the invitation of Jesus to read the events of history with the light of faith and to discover in every present and future event the presence of God in the midst of his people.
In the wonderful synthesis that flows from the heart of Zechariah concerning the mystery of God present in every event in history we can find a life program for each of us.
I note only some interior attitude to which the advent has insistently called us to help us prepare the welcome of Jesus within us.

1. Need to praise and bless God for the gift of salvation
First of all, the need to praise and bless God because he visited and redeemed his people.
The reasons for the praise: he exercised his power through the investiture of men of this people, called to collaborate over time on his plan for the salvation of man.

2. The path of promise and justification
The promise of the Lord comes from afar; spans centuries of human history; it is renewed every time the man finds himself in the risk of succumbing to any type of difficulty.
Zechariah reminds us that the promise originates from the Mercy of God who wants to save his people, it is not his merits that save him, and yet God wants to have man as collaborator. Man receives the mandate and receives the strength from God to be able to implement it. Man can remain faithful to the promise of salvation only if he remembers that he cannot do anything alone. God is his only strength not to succumb to evil.
Abraham, the progenitor of all believers, believed the promise without resisting. He opened himself to the merciful love of God without demanding sure proofs and without relying on human certainties. He answers the call leaving his land and trusting the promise made to him and his descendants. For this he deserved the title of Father of all in faith. Righteous man par excellence because he abandoned himself to the will of God without hesitation and placed the whole plan of life in the will of God.
The righteous man is someone who lives by faith and performs the will of God without resistance.
The path that the chosen people make begins with an act of faith.

3.The stages of realization of the promise
The liturgy has made us review them in the past few weeks. These are stages that materialize in the human events of a people who, despite the promises, experience falls and betrayals. The presence of God is made manifest by the call of men chosen by God and sent to help us read the ways of conversion and return to the Lord with eyes of faith. In this project of the love of God, it is evident the voice of the prophets, in particular Isaiah, who kept us company for a long time to awaken in our hearts the desire of God, the certainty of his love for us, the way to return to Him and the joy to be able to feel it present among us.
We must gratefully recognize with how much suffering and with what painful sacrifice the prophets have fulfilled the task of keeping the approach of the fulfillment of salvation awake in the minds of the people, and this not only for their people, but for all men.

4. The fulfillment of the promise through the voice of Zechariah
The canticle of Zechariah somehow closes the cycle of waiting for the promise and announces its fulfillment, acknowledging to the son that God had granted him to have in his old age and in that of his wife Elizabeth the task of paving the way for Jesus who is about to trample, like God-man, the ways of Palestine. The gaze is turned to the Son of the promise, but the content already concerns events that are human and divine at the same time; John's task is to open the roads, but to let the one "who is greater than him" pass.
From the liturgy of this day we move to that of this night. In the last week we have been repeatedly called to listen to the voice of Mary and Elizabeth, and the dialogue without voice but implemented in the Word between the two unborn children - Jesus and John, an anticipation of the mystery that we contemplate tonight.
Human and divine intertwine in an inextricable way, God enters humanity to redeem it, Mary offered her womb to the Son of God to prepare a welcome of total communion with her soul and invites us to imitate her to substitute with human warmth the coldness of the hut in Bethlehem.

My wish is that we can live this period with the sentiments of Mary, with her faith, hope and charity, to firmly believe that God has also given us perhaps a small part in announcing to the world the birth of the Son of God and to convince us that He is always with us; therefore, nothing of what happens can separate us from his love.
Published in IN DIALOGUE


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About Us

Union “St. Catherine of Siena” of School Missionaries is a Dominican Religious Congregation.
We are called to accompany our contemporaries along their path with study and prayer and to seek along with them Gospel’s answers to the questions of our complex, multicultural society.
We want to live therefore coherently a Christianity of frontiers and be yeast and salt of the least visibility yet cause to leaven and give flavor.