We all have favorite Christmas shows during this season. Some like “A Wonderful Life”, others “Frosty the Snowman” or the “Peanuts Christmas Special”. My favorite is almost any version of “A Christmas Carol”, but my particular favorite is the 1970 film version, “Scrooge”.
It begins with Scrooge talking with his nephew:
“If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!” (From Dicken’s, “A Christmas Carol”).
Most of us remember that Scrooge as someone cheap, but we forget that he is a great example of change and conversation. John the Baptist reminds us that it’s conversion and change that leads to salvation and Scrooge is a perfect example of what John the Baptist means.
This is why I think it’s so important to let ourselves be visited by the three Ghosts of Christmas so we can make the change we need for true salvation.
Every day, we hear of issues – such as war, terrorism, or social violence – that affect us and our sisters and brothers around the world. The problems can seem so complex that they can leave us paralyzed, overwhelmed, or even numb. We may wonder, “What can I possibly do?”
In his message for the 50th World Day of Peace, celebrated on January 1, 2017, Pope Francis urges us to overcome such challenges by replacing cautiousness with courage and cynicism with hope.
Christian Nonviolence – Politics for Peace
This year Pope Francis has asked Catholics to focus on Christian nonviolence as a style of politics for peace. What can you do to affirm the centrality of active nonviolence in the message of Jesus, the life of the Catholic Church, and to the calling to be part of the healing and reconciling of both people and our earth?
In our families, schools, and institutions, we must learn the things that make for peace. There are effective Christian ways to counter war, terrorism, and social and domestic violence that can be accomplished without resorting to violence or military options. We must reach out to engage in positive encounters with our neighbors, in civil dialogue for the common good, and building skills to address these problems in meaningful ways.
St. John XXIII reminds us that violence and war can no longer be considered “a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice.” But violations of justice must be addressed. Christian nonviolent practices and strategies are ways to effectively address injustice, while also building peace.
We belong to various kinds of groups: Boston Red Sox Meetup Groups, our children’s PTA group, golf clubs, and even online Shopping Networks. In religious circles, we perhaps belong to a Temple, a Congregation, a Parish, Society, or other faith-based group.
As a Catholic, I remember asking a young woman where she lived. Without hesitation she said: “I’m from St. Peter’s in Dorchester.” Taken a bit by surprise, I asked her why she mentioned her parish’s name and town. She said: “I grew up in the area and, when I was younger, everything in my life – my school, friends, sports teams, youth activities and neighborhood connections – were all connected with my parish. It was my life, my world, and it still is!”
Yes, our Parish, Temple, or other religious group can be – and perhaps should be – a very important part of our life. The truth is that many of us do realize that without our faith, our life can easily become meaningless, lonely and even hopeless. We can easily get caught up in the tasks of life, like finishing school, getting a degree, a job promotion, raising our family and somehow forget what should be the center of our life – our faith. It can give us values as well as offer us the opportunity to give back, to help others. And, taking the long view of our life, isn’t that one of the basic purposes of our life on earth?
The daily practice of our faith can remind us what should be central to our life – loving God and reflecting God’s love to others. It’s so simple that even a child can understand it.
Stephen Hawking’s visit to the Vatican this week has raised curiosity, with some asking what exactly the famed astrophysicist and self-proclaimed atheist was doing in the heart of the Catholic Church.
But for the Vatican, his visit was nothing out of the ordinary. Hawking is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – which includes 80 of the most brilliant scientists in the world – and he was in Vatican City for the group’s annual meeting.
This year’s conference was focused on “Science and Sustainability.” Hawking himself gave a talk on “The Origin of the Universe,” the topic that has earned him world renown.
Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of Fr. Stanley Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who served in Guatemala, making him the first martyr to have been born in the United States. “Servant of God, Fr. Stanley Rother, has been approved for beatification!” Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City announced on Facebook Dec. 2.
“He is the first U.S. born martyr and priest to receive this official recognition from the Vatican! And of course the first from Oklahoma!”
Pope Francis had met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Dec. 1, approving decrees for several causes of canonization.
Together with that of Fr. Rother, the Pope recognized the martyrdoms of Fr. Vicete Queralt Llloret and 20 companions, killed in the Spanish Civil War, and Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis of Kaišiadorys, a Lithuanian killed by the Soviets in 1962. Also acknowledged were a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Giovanni Schiavo and the heroic virtue of eight Servants of God.
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Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.
Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.
Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”