‘I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people’ (Luke 2:10). Such a beautiful promise of a gift from God!
In our day-to-day life, God’s manifestations come in different ways, sometimes in the most awesome appearance, sometimes in the simplest expression. But for the entire Columban community and for all concerned, the release of Fr Michael Sinnott, after being kidnapped on 11 October 2009, was such an early but the greatest Christmas gift. Yes, too early for us to celebrate Christmas as well as the Advent season as we look into the light of Father Mick’s captivity.
The invisible candles of Advent (candles of hope, preparation, joy and love) were lit up with all the prayers for Father Mick. We were waiting with hope and in deep faith for him. We were also trying to prepare ourselves for whatever outcome from a situation that was out of our hands. Now we are jubilant with overflowing joy as God has answered our prayers with Father Mick’s release on 12 November after a month in captivity. So we thank God for His wonderful expression of love. With all of these, we are shed with the light of ‘Christ Candle’, not only for those directly concerned but for the entire world to celebrate for God’s having used such a simple, peaceful man to bring about the message that He would want us all to learn and to witness.
May the God of the universe continue to manifest Himself to us in the very way that we can recognize His presence. May He grant us the eyes to see the beauty there is in every circumstance of our life, the lips to spread the Good News, the heart to love His people, and the being that will continue to shed His light on others.
In Christ’s love, Merry Christmas to all of you.
Our cover shows the Baby Jesus being held in two hands with heart-shaped lights in the background. It also includes a message from Luke 2:10, ‘I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.’
What do you think the image evokes? In what way can you say that Jesus is a gift to you? To mankind?
‘Chaty’ for Charity Work is a simple story of generosity. She thought of reaching out to those in orphanages and other less fortunate ones with the help of the Filipino-Australian Association of Ballarat. This program is now in its fifth year.
Let her words 'Habang may buhay, mayroon akong ibibigay’ (‘As long as I live, I will always have something to give’) be ours too. It has been for us a usual thing to extend gifts and other Christmas presents to others as we perceive Christmas as a season of sharing, of giving, a season of love.
Encourage your students to do an outreach activity. Choose an orphanage, home for the aged, or any institution that would be good for an outreach activity. Or you can be of help to a certain adopted barangay. Ask them to bring some goods that the recipients surely need. Make a program of activities that your students are most capable of doing. Giving is the usual thing. So this time, make it a point of engaging them in conversation with the recipients. Maybe they can ask a little about their background and just take time to listen. For in this world of chaos and too much expression, sometimes people fail to listen. It is the heart of sharing through listening that will be a better gift than the material things given.
With the many stories featured in past issues of Misyon, ask your students to pick out one article that really strikes them.
a. What was the story about?
b. What struck you most?
c. How do you relate it to your personal experience?
Fiji Day Celebrations in the Philippines is an article by a Fijian seminarian sharing with us how he and others were able to share their Fijian history and culture through the celebration of their Independence Day here in the Philippines. A Bridge between Taiwan and the Philippines is a story of the experience of 13 Taiwanese students who volunteered to do some service here and experience Filipino culture.
Have your students read the articles.
a. What do you think is the importance of inter-cultural activities?
b. What is the value enhanced in such encounters?
c. What have you learned from the stories?
d. Ask for one or two students to share a similar experience with the class.
The writer of Our Hideaway tells of his encounter with the Asian Youth Day Cross together with the young people of Bacolod. That experience made a big impact on him especially in his relationship with God, not discounting the work of the Holy Spirit in such a grace.
Encountering Jesus on the ‘Cross’ doesn’t have to take place in the object or image of the ‘Cross’ per se. But rather it can be in any event or through another image used by Jesus to tell you a message.
a. When have you encountered Jesus on the ‘Cross’?
b. What is most memorable about that meeting?
c. How did you feel about it?
Journalize your reflection.
A Bridge between Taiwan and the Philippines tells of ‘how the young teach the young.’ Organize a tutorial session with the depressed barangay or street kids. Prepare your students for this activity. Be sure to give each student the chance to share their little knowledge through a tutorial. After the activity, ask them to write a reflection paper for you to know how the activity contributed to their growth.
‘If the lay people have a proper appreciation for the unique role of the priesthood, they will join in the effort to encourage more priestly vocations.’ This was picked up by one of the readers in our Misyon forum so in our To Search is to Find a question on how a lay person can encourage more priestly vocations is asked. Just in time for us to reflect on as we are celebrating the Year of Priests. Have them read the article to at least make them familiar with the simple ways they can contribute to the Church. You may also ask them to visit http://www.misyononline.com/misyonforum/?q=node/905 to check for more random ideas.
Father Joeker items can be used as ‘ice-breakers’ or for motivating the class.
It is never easy to go out of your own culture, of your own home, in the name of mission. A Taste of a Missionary Journey tells of the adventure of a seminarian in Japan through an Overseas Training Program (OTP). He shares with us the difficulties and challenges he encountered living ‘in a culture that is so deep and traditional.’
A Missionary from Colombia is a vocation story of a nun on how she lived her mission here in the Philippines. Even in her old age now, she remains ‘ever faithful and excited to learn more.’
The barriers experienced while in another place and culture will always remain a challenge to every missionary. But the beauty there is how they discover and see the hands of God in every event.
Of the articles,
a. To which part of the story can you relate yourself?
b. What is that piece of your experience that can tell of your own struggle?
c. How did you go about it?
d. All of us are called to partake in God’s Mission. At your age now, what do you think you can do as a missionary act?
FEATURING: ‘YOUTH OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM’
‘Youth of the New Millenium’ (Do you know where we’re going to . . ?) is written by a teacher telling us of her many observations about the youth of today. However, she doesn’t sound so positive about it. You can access the article at /nov-dec2009/youth_of_new_millennium.
In this connection we would like to cater responses from the youth on this article. We will be accepting entries either by email (email@example.com) or by post (San Columbano, PO Box 588, 6100 Bacolod City) on or before 31 December 2009. We will give three prizes of PHP1,000 for the responses that in the editor’s judgment are best.
We do hope that you will encourage your students to participate in this discussion that entails the concerns of the young generation.