A Celebration of Christmas at the end of a Year of Crises
2018 the feast of Christmas was celebrated at the end of a year of crises marked by conflicts and wars in many parts of the world. Natural disasters have been a clear indication of the seriousness of climate change. We are celebrating Christmas amongst a severe crisis in Europe leading the vision of the one and the common European Home to national egoisms again. And as ever in history, it is once again the poor that are affected first. This is not only true in the continents of the South where the majority of people are less fortunate in life on our joint Mother Earth, but also in Europe, where the divide between the rich and the poor is constantly increasing.
Christmas as the Feast of Remembrance
Picture: Sr. Katharina Horn
But what does remembrance have to do with Christmas? Well – when wanting to discover the Feast of Christmas, it has a lot to do with just that. The experience we are presently going through has not happened for the first time in the history of mankind. Throughout the Advent season up to the Feast of Christmas, the liturgy is filled with the proclamations of the prophets of the Old Covenant; their texts bear witness of suppression, failure and misery, but also of hope and liberation. Precisely during these times hope also emerges, and the promise becomes even more apparent. The Lord consoles his people before the very eyes of all peoples.
God comes into his world to inspire hope and to relieve misery. He hears his people’s cry and the sigh of his creation. “He, the invisible God, appeared visibly as man”. And this is repeated year after year at Christmas time. Christmas reminds us of the deeds of God and the call for doing deeds in the world. Christmas stands for all the beautiful and good that we are thinking up and we wish for the world we live in: a more intact world and a more brotherly-sisterly Church.
Christmas – a Feast of Love
The Franciscan theologian Duns Scotus has provided a completely new explanation in this regard. God means love and he is asking for co-loving individuals. This is the reason for creation and for His incarnation. God completely dedicates himself. Thus, He is asking for a world of individuals loving themselves and others; an interlinked creation, a reality defined by relationship and commitment rather than exclusion and isolation. This is the reason for God to become man, being quite present in form of Jesus of Nazareth. Through Jesus, God wants to love the world and He wants to be loved by the world. Everyone needs to know where their centre is and how they may grow to become the unity of love.
A delightful experience
In 1223, Francis of Assisi has explained and performed this theology of the incarnation of God with a nativity scene in Greccio. Pope Francis repeatedly emphasizes the significance of this Franciscan spiritualty as well as the mission charism and Saint Francis – not only for the Franciscans, but for the world overall.
During a seminar of the Franciscan Family of South East Asia and Oceania in Thailand, I was able to experience how true this is. The 73 participants came from 7 different countries. The majority were lay Franciscans, who were highly involved and committed. The ten-day CCFMC Programme conducted from 19 to 30 November 2018 covered the following 5 topics:
The course was attended by experienced and knowledgeable theologians and initiators from the USA, Europe and Asia launching the lively discussions.
We have been supporting these CCFMC seminars of the Franciscan Family in Southeast Asia for more than 30 years. The get-together in Thailand had been perfectly organized. The participants were provided with printouts of the course contents to study at home. This is where first plans are being drawn up how the seminar can bear fruit now. ”We are quite aware that it still important to train coordinators, who will be able to teach and convey the entire CCFMC course by word and life. We will discuss these issues and will hopeful reach important discussions fort the future of the CCFMC in our part of the world. The dissemination of the CCFMC to non-Franciscan individuals is a refreshing sign of life. This is a symbol of great interest and the importance and meaningfulness in order to meet the challenges of our time."
This is the Christmas message we recently received by Sr. Dorothy Ortega. The significance and the purpose of the CCFMC Centre can´t be described even better. Accompaniment and encouragement are main features for the survival of such an international project.
We are presently experiencing a time of radical change and reorientation. Therefore, we have not been in contact as much as before. We would like to wholeheartedly thank all those, who have been supportive and we still require your support so that the Franciscan spiritualty can remain an inspiration for a more just and humane world.
In this spirit, we wish you a Merry Christmas and
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