The Real Meaning of Christmas
On Christmas, December 25, Christians are called to remember the roots of their faith. The birth of Christ reflects the mystery of the Incarnation. "In the midst of Christmas commercialism, it is difficult to look deeply into the true meaning of the birth of Christ. When one celebrates a birthday, one is careful to give what another really wants or needs. The Scriptures tell us that we can find Jesus in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. When preparing for Christmas, it's well to broaden one's concept of a gift," says Walt Grazer, advisor to the bishops on environmental issues. "For many, the best presents may be gifts of time to the lonely or gifts of donated time or service. Some of the most useful gifts are those that provide food, clothing, shelter, and compassion to those in need. It's also helpful to celebrate Christmas environmentally by recycling gift boxes and ribbon; buying recyclable products and/or products that don't hurt the planet; and buying a live Christmas tree and replanting it."
Walt Grazer can be reached at 202-541-3182.
Thank a Nun, Brother, or Priest for a Lifetime of Service
"A lifetime of service, a moment of thanks" is the theme for the 1998 Retirement Fund for Religious Collection, which will be taken up in parishes December 12-13. With so many religious approaching retirement age and the cost of medical care skyrocketing, many elderly nuns, brothers, and priests need funding to help defray costs. "Catholics in this country can be proud of their efforts for religious," said Sister Mary Leahy, a Sister of Providence and Director of the National Religious Retirement Office, which oversees the collection and its distribution. "The need is still enormous, but without this help, it would overwhelm the sisters, brothers, and order priests who have given so many years of service to the people of our country."
Sister Mary Leahy can be reached at 202-541-3217.
Hispanics Celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mid-December
December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, will be marked by special celebrations in dioceses and parishes throughout the country. The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 to Juan Diego, a Mexican Indian at the Hill of Tepeyac, marks the beginnings of the massive conversion of the native peoples of Mexico. "Today, there are approximately 23 million Hispanic Catholics in the United States," says Ronaldo Cruz, advisor to the U.S. Bishops on Hispanic Affairs. "Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to be a source of consolation and hope not only to people of Hispanic descent, but to all peoples throughout the hemisphere. In fact, Pope John Paul II speaks of Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Star of the New Evangelization."
Ronaldo Cruz can be reached at 202-541-3150.