Final Profession in Russia
On December 8th, in the St. Anna parish in Yekaterinburg, Russia, there was a solemn Mass during which Sr. Irina Cziczerowa, proclaimed her perpetual profession. Holy Mass was presided by Bishop Joseph Werth SJ from Novosibirsk, concelebrating with Fr. Anton Gsel, and Pallottine priests - Fr. Piotr Jankowski and Fr. Sergiej Bildzis. Sr. Iwona Nadziejko, Provincial Superior and few sisters from Poland were also present for the Mass of final Profession. From Novosibirsk, the home town of Sr. Irina, her parents and several friends also attended the celebration. The joy of Sr. Irina was, that many parishioners participated in this special event, they prayed together and praised the Lord for this Pallottine vocation on Russian land.
1 John 4:11-18
Psalm 72:1-2, 10, 12-13
When the disciples, rowing against the wind on the Sea of Galilee, see Jesus walking on the water, they are terrified. He says, “Courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”
If you are terrified, how do you respond to the command, “Don’t be afraid”? Can you turn off terror just by willing it? Of course not. It is the assurance that a trusted person is with that can begin to mitigate the fear.
1 John 4:7-10; Mark 6:34-44
The unbelievable, incomprehensible gift of the Incarnation is simply too big to celebrate as a single feast. So Christmas merges into Epiphany and both spread out into the days around them. Epiphany is actually the oldest of the Christmas celebrations – giving us, in stories and in theologizing, some hints of what this gift is all about – helping us get our heads around something really too big to grasp. In the readings around Epiphany we see a Jesus whose identity as God’s Son is revealed at His baptism, a Jesus who works wonders like multiplying bread, healing lepers, and walking on water. But perhaps most directly we hear today in 1 John who/what God actually is – love.
“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light”
Do you know the joy and freedom of the gospel? John the Baptist’s enemies had sought to silence him, but the gospel cannot be silenced. As soon as John had finished his testimony Jesus began his in Galilee. Galilee was at the crossroads of the world and much traffic passed through this little region. It had been assigned to the tribes of Asher, Naptali and Zebulum when the Israelites first came into the land (see Joshua 9). For a long time it had been under Gentile occupation. Isaiah foretold (see Isaiah 9) that the good news of salvation would be proclaimed in this land and reach to the Gentiles. Jesus begins the proclamation of the gospel here to fulfill the word of God. The Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s promise to send a Redeemer who would establish God’s rule. That time is now fulfilled in Jesus.
The Octave of the Epiphany as
a launching pad for Evangelisation
Saint Vincent Pallotti maintained that the Octave of the Epiphany was “one of the most luminous Mysteries of our Faith”(OOCC I, p.247). He was convinced that such a celebration was a reawakening of the Christian people to Faith. He did not content himself with a simple celebration, but invited all to prepare for this special event in which each person made their contribution according to their possibilities (OOCC III, pp.337-338). Furthermore, he urged people to propagate the Octave everywhere and not to limit it to determined places: “And we must celebrate it not only in the church in which the Procura of the pious Union was instituted but, if possible, in all of the communities of whatever reality” (OOCC III, 339). Just as the gentiles were invited in the persons of the Magi to adore and to offer gifts to the King of the Jews, so all must be awakened, making a holy "renewal" of spirit in order to seek Jesus Christ attentively and constantly, so that he might be known, loved and adored, and reciprocated in his infinite Love by the entire human race (OOCC III, pp.446-447).
Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
Today, St Matthew gives us the story of the visit of the magi to the newborn Savior.
Who were these magi, sometimes called kings?
I think scholars would agree that in ancient times, in what is known to us as the Middle East, the magi — from which come the words “magician” and “magic”— were astrologers. These were men who studied the skies, and found meaning in the movement of the stars and the planets. They were known as wise men, were influential in determining courses of action, and frequently would have been very wealthy, and respected in all levels of society. Their lives were full.
▪ On Christmas day Pope Francis, from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, gave His Papal Blessing “Urbi et Orbi”. Addressing the crowd of about 50,000 people at St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father expressed his Christmas wishes and delivered His message saying “My wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity”, that means, Christmas must bring stronger bonds among people from different cultures, faith and nations, a difference to rising nationalism across the globe. He continued saying that “God is a good Father and we are all brothers and sisters” … “without that bond, even our best plans and projects risk being soulless and empty.” He emphasised fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture, fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another and fraternity among persons of different religions.
1 John 3:11-21; Psalms 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5; John 1:43-51
During this second week of Christmas, having just celebrated Jesus’ birth - the incarnation of the Most Holy One - it seems a bit odd to be reflecting on the adult Jesus and how he chose his first disciples. Yet as I prayed with today’s readings, the Gospel passage seemed to me to be an allegory of our personal Christmas – remembering how God is born – and borne – by each of us as we open our hearts, our minds, our bodies to the mystery of God’s love.
1 John 3:7-10; John 1:35-42
"What are you looking for?" Jesus asks Simon Peter and Andrew.
Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were restless. They had become disciples of John the Baptist, hoping he could speak to their restlessness. They were baptized in the Jordan River by John as a sign of repentance. Yet John's baptism was not enough. They were looking for more.
1 John 2:29-3:6; Psalm 98:1,3CD-4, 5-6; John 1:29-34
Today is the 9th day of Christmas! We are still very much in the Christmas season, yet the stores have taken Christmas off the shelves and reduced the merchandise greatly – Valentine and, in some stores, even Easter decorations hang. The truth is that the commercial part of Christmas is over yet the church calendar shows that we are still waiting for those three wise men to arrive at the stable. My nativity scenes still shine brightly – we are still waiting. In the traditional Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, nine ladies are dancing (in additional to the eight maids-a-milking and all those birds!). Indeed, it is time for continued celebration; we should be dancing and thrilled with our Christmas gift, the baby Jesus. However, we must also think about the implications of that gift – are we going to keep it but stuff it away someplace and then on rare occasions we will “take it out” to ask for favors? Are we not even going to accept the gift and, instead, just leave it under the tree? Or, are we going to fully embrace it – basking in its bright light? Will we dance and sing and revel in our good fortune?