Saturday, December 31, 2016

"Everyone can be an artisan of peace."

In his message for tomorrow's 50th anniversary of the celebration of the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis said:

"All of us want peace.  Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers.  In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home.  Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer.  Everyone can be an artisan of peace."

The full text of the message is available here.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Child in the Manger, Day 5

Since Christmas Day, we have been reflecting on the Holy Father's homily from Midnight Mass in which he invited us to be challenged by the child in the manger.  Today, we provide the final excerpt of this homily:

"That night, the shepherds understood this.  They were among the marginalized of those times.  Yet no one is marginalized in the sight of God, and that Christmas, they themselves were the guests.  People who felt sure of themselves, self-sufficient, were at home with their possessions.  It was the shepherds who 'set out with haste' (cf. Luke 2:16).  Tonight, may we too be challenged and called by Jesus.  Let us approach him with trust, starting from all those things that make us feel marginalized, from our limitations and our sins.  Let us be touched by the tenderness that saves.  Let us draw close to God who draws close to us.  Let us pause to gaze upon the crib, and relive in our imagination the birth of Jesus: light and peace, dire poverty and rejection.  With the shepherds, let us enter into the real Christmas, bringing to Jesus all that we are, our alienation, our unhealed wounds, our sins.  Then, in Jesus, we will enjoy the taste of the true spirit of Christmas:  the beauty of being loved by God.  With Mary and Joseph, let us pause before the manger, before Jesus who is born as bread for my life.  Contemplating his humble and infinite love, let us simply tell him:  Thank you.  Thank you because you have done all this for me."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Child in the Manger, Day 4

We continue our reading of the Holy Father's homily from Midnight Mass:

"Yet Christmas has above all a taste of hope because, for all the darkness in our lives, God's light shines forth.  His gentle light does not frighten us.  God, who is in love with us, draws us to himself with his tenderness, by being born poor and frail in our midst, as one of us.  He is born in Bethlehem, which means "house of bread."  In this way, he seems to tell us that he is born as bread for us; he enters our life to give us his life; he comes into our world to give us his love.  He does not come to devour or to lord it over us, but instead to feed and serve us.  There is a straight line between the manger and the cross where Jesus will become bread that is broken.  It is the straight line of love that gives and saves, the love that brings light to our lives and peace to our hearts."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Child in the Manger, Day 3

We continue to reflect on the Holy Father's homily from Midnight Mass:

"The mystery of Christmas,which is light and joy, challenges and unsettles us, because it is at once a mystery of hope and of sadness.  It has a taste of sadness inasmuch as love is not accepted, and life discarded.  Such was the case with Joseph and Mary, who met with closed doors, and placed Jesus in a manger, "because there was no place for them in the inn" (v. 7).  Jesus was born rejected by some and regarded by many others with indifference.  Today, too, that same indifference can exist whenever Christmas becomes a holiday with ourselves at the center rather than Jesus, when the lights of shop windows push the light of God into the shadows; when we are enthused about gifts but indifferent to our neighbors in need.  This worldliness has kidnapped Christmas; we need to liberate it!"

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Child in the Manger, Day 2

It is possible that in the bustle of the Christmas season, we might not have the time to reflect on the entire  homily of Pope Francis from Midnight Mass (suggested in yesterday's post).  So, perhaps a few sentences at a time would be better:

"With this sign the Gospel reveals a paradox.  It speaks of the emperor, the governor, the high and mighty of those times, yet God does not make himself present there.  He appears not in the splendor of a royal palace, but in the poverty of a stable; not in pomp and show, but in simplicity of life; not in power, but in astonishing smallness.  In order to meet him, we need to go where he is.  We need to bow down, to humble ourselves, to make ourselves small.  The newborn Child challenges us.  He calls us to leave behind fleeting illusions and to turn to what is essential, to renounce our insatiable cravings, to abandon our endless yearning for things we will never have.  We do well to leave such things behind, in order to discover, in the simplicity of the divine Child, peace, joy and the luminous meaning of life."

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Challenged by the Child in the Manger

Mallinckrodt Convent, Mendham, NJ
During Midnight Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Pope Francis said, "Let us allow the child in the manger to challenge us, but let us also be challenged by all those children in today's world who are lying not in a crib . . . but in squalid mangers that devour dignity.  Children who hide underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of large cities, in the hold of a boat overladen with immigrants . . . Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by those children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one relieves their hunger, by those who hold in their hands not toys, but weapons."  Find the complete text of this homily here.

As we continue to allow ourselves to rise to the challenge of the Child and of all children, may we have a blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

December Issue of Stop Trafficking

The December 2016 issue of the Stop Trafficking newsletter -- providing educational materials to be used during Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January 2017 -- is available here.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Reminder: Prayer and Solidarity with Families of Immigrants

As we reminded you in this post two weeks ago, the USCCB has asked us to focus on the plight of refugees and immigrants on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Click here for more information from the USCCB website.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Prayer and Solidarity with Families of Immigrants

A message from the USCCB:  A Day of Prayer with a focus on the plight of refugees and migrants will take place across the United States on December 12, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It will be a time to place before a merciful God the hopes, fears and needs of all those families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.  Click here to find more information and materials on the USCCB website.