December 2017 A Christmas Meditation by Fr. Daniel Manger, O.S.B.,Cam.

donna cerca uomo Altamura Christmas, solstice, Saint Stephen, Saint John and the Holy Innocence are the focus of the 12 days of Christmas in our religious tradition. Light appearing in the great darkness displaying wonder and hope in a very silent poverty in contrast to what would beguile us with glamour, or spectacular display. We are in the company of the Messiah and his saints who are martyrs and a mystic theologian St. John.

donna cerca uomo Varese The scriptures of these 12 days appeal and excite or imagination for many reasons, but one has to give a second hearing of them and meditate once again upon the claims they make on our faith today. Self-donation through some form of giving ourselves is all to do with the Messianic message of ‘blessed are the poor’, and those impoverished spiritually. Each person’s well being is the measuring of our own lives as believers in accepting the Christ.

uomo cerca donna LAquila We have been given divine light and life in our baptism into the Lord Jesus and therefore are in a family of kindred spirits, whose purpose is to give forth light, that will contrast with the deeds of darkness in our civilization of today. The light is a healing and restorative presence we bring, when we live the virtues that are a result of our own conversion from dark expressions of impatience, greed, lust for entitlements, control and many oppressive activities we can bind up others and ourselves with. In contrast, the light of healing brings forward the light of goodness, generosity, freedom in service in Christlike love, hope and gentleness in strength to help the downhearted and the downtrodden and give refuge both within our heart’s spirit and food, shelter and means to have home.

Chapel at Christmas

uomo cerca donna Trani Chapel at Christmas

Red in poinsettias in our churches and homes recall the martyrdom of Jesus on the wood of the cross and the white poinsettia the innocence of the Lamb of God, who Christ is titled with in scripture. This includes the martyrs and the many innocent people afflicted in our Christian belief and our solidarity with them in faith and hope. Healing and hope disturb and provoke a response to do the good, while we have time in our lives day to day. We have an inexhaustible source of divine light within us, St. John writes in his gospel that is the indwelling, therefore we need not fear being overwhelmed in service to others by this life giving light we carry toward others. We are not alone, but One who has overcome the world’s powers and darkness is our source, help and answer to the vexing challenges of our own time.

In our time there are 65 million plus refugees estimated, the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. How do we respond? We can take a lesson form the atomic fission. You only have to split one atom to generate great energy, so it is with a heart broken open to love that embraces others and our universe as was Christ’s messianic heart does through us, and that of the martyrs and saints of all the ages. It can be no less for each of us. So, when we meditate on the crib scene, a little baby in the manger, it can give us hope that a great transformation is still happening, as people give themselves in self-donation, in soup kitchens, nursing homes, hospitals, homeless care, visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted in anyway, caring for the earth that gives us poinsettias, food and water, to remind us of what just the strength and resource of one heart, one drop of rain or a tear of compassion given to the cause of a new justice can bring in a dark oppressed world. As we chant in our Camaldolese liturgy of the hours: “Enlighten those in darkness and in death’s shadow, guide our steps into the way of peace.”

From all the monks here Stephen, David and Daniel may you be blessed in keeping the ‘Light’ for one to another and the refugee and stranger.