“Here we are, for a fifth year now, celebrating the Feast of the Nativity as bombs are raining down. I do not know how many of you have lived through such a depressing and sad experience, but I can assure you it is painful these beautiful days, so ardently awaited each year, amidst shortages and lack of security, or electricity and, to top things off, cut off from the rest of the world by a strict and very tight boycott. It gives me still more reason to step out from these confines, if only for a few moments, to draw in some fresh and pleasant air in writing you these words from the heart, invested with all the affection I have for you!
“May Almighty God have pity on all of us and cause friendship to reign among men, mercy in our hearts and peace among all the peoples on earth.”
–Christmas letter of Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria
Today is known as Boxing Day in Canada, the day when people make room for their Christmas-gift clothes by boxing up their old clothes for charity. It’s an English custom. Or so I was told.
What I do know is that it’s part of the 12 Days of Christmas leading to El Día de los Reyes Magos (Epiphany, to anglophiles). I’m going to give a quote every day until then.
“It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
St. John Paul II, 19 August 2000
Life is to live and life is to give and
talents are to use for good if you choose.
Do not pray for easy lives.
Pray to be strong.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers.
Pray for powers equal to your tasks –
then the doing of your work shall be no miracle
but you shall be a miracle.
Every day you shall wonder at yourself…
at the richness of life which has come to you
by the grace of God.
But everyone needs someone – knowing that
somewhere someone is thinking of you.
-Poem prayer used by Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey
Is it a great poem? No. But it’s an interesting glimpse into Fr. Solanus’ heart. He was the porter at the Capuchin monastery in Detroit during the Great Depression who began what’s now the Capuchin Soup Kitchen (and alcoholism treatment center, urban garden project, food pantry, job training, and..)
His dreams of priesthood were thwarted in several ways (even his ordination was as a “simplex priest” unable to grant absolution or preach sermons). Yet he exemplified gratitude for everything. I particularly like that when he prayed with someone for their needs, he also led them to “thank God ahead of time.” There’s more about him here.