The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Merry Christmas from Rome

Boas Festas
Buon Natale
Fröhliche Weihnachten
Feliz Navidad
Heri ya sikukuu ya Krismas
Merry Christmas
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia

From the CPPS Generalate Community in Rome

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 3:54 PM link
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Christmas, 2003

Several years ago, as pastor of a parish, I would receive hand made Christmas cards from the children in the parish school. Going through some boxes a few weeks ago I came up on these cards that I had saved. They are a real treasure. These second graders are now teenagers, and I am grateful they are not here to be embarrassed by their childhood questions, but for us today it is important to remember that it is in the questions of children we are taught to search out the things of God we may have forgotten.

Dear Fr. Jeff, I hope you have a nice Christmas. Do you have a house? Are you going to church? Love, Edward, grade 2

Yes, Edward, I have a house. It is not my house, but it is a house a bunch of missionaries live in together. More important than that, Edward, you and I have a house together. It is called the house of God. More than just this building where we celebrate this wonderful feast, the house of God is this wonderful Christian family, the family of men and women, and children of every age and ever country who believe in Jesus.

There was a time, Edward, when the house of God was meant only for a few. Not tonight! Not after Jesus was born. Jesus was born to bring all people into the house of God.

The shepherds are an immediate sign, a signal that the House of God is changed, the "mangy, stinking, bathless shepherds of old, standing in ritual uncleanness and lacking in religious status," were the first to be welcomed into the new House of God by this holy child.

Dear Fr. Jeff
What are you doing this Christmas?
I picked an angel from the Christmas tree. My mom bought the plant. The plant was called poinsettia. Love, Kris.

We celebrating this new house of God, Kris, and the blood red poinsettias are a reminder to use that God took flesh and blood and lived among us. And more than that, Jesus, who is God comes to visit us, comes to live with us, comes to live in us, loved us so much that he gave all of his life for us, even dying for us. And in his blood we are all connected somehow, no one is alone anymore. In this house of God we all become brothers and sisters to one another.

Dear Fr. Jeff
I hope you have a merry Christmas. Did you know that Jesus was born on Christmas? Remember me, my dad and I lit the first candle in church. Your friend Justin, 2nd grade

It certainly is a merry Christmas. See the candles now. Your one candle from the first Sunday of Advent is now grown to this fullness of light around the holy table. Just like Mary and Joseph were the first who brought the light of faith that gave us Jesus, Justin, you are the one who began the light of faith in this whole parish community. Many people came after you to light candles in this new house of God, but it was your light that got us started.

Sometimes, Justin, we wait for big, important people to share their light before we have the courage to share ours. But Mary wasn't a big important person. She was just a young girl, and God chose her to light the first candle, the first light that gave birth to this new House of God. That's why it is a tradition in many homes to have the children light the first candle. It is your light we all respond to as we responded to Mary's. It is the light of the child Jesus we follow this night.

Dear Fr. Jeff, I hope you have a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Do you know about Jesus? Yes, no? Jesus is the reason we have Christmas. I hope that all your sins are forgiven. Love Christopher, grade 2.

Yes, Christopher, Jesus is a good friend of mine and yours. Each day in conversation with this friend I am learning more about him and his hope and dreams for us. I am certainly glad that they are teaching you about Jesus in school. The more that you know about Jesus, the more you will know how much he loves.

And yes, Christopher, I live in hope that my sins are forgiven. You know, whether we've been naughty or nice, Jesus tries to bring us around to be the kind of loving people he created in the first place.

This Manger is a sign that our sins are forgiven. You know that for the prophet's in the old, old days, the manger was a sign that we were a sinful people. One of old time, one of the real important prophets, Isaiah used to say:

"The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master's manger
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand."

Our story says they "laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."

This manger says that the condemnation announced by Isaiah the prophet HAS BEEN REPEALED.

Now there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ.

So Christopher, not only have my sins been forgiven, but yours too, and indeed the whole world's sins have been forgiven. That's really our job together, to tell the whole world what Jesus has come to do, to forgive us and to make us his holy people in this new house of God. There really is a new heaven and a new earth Christopher, and it is all because of this little child.

Dear Father Jeff, I hope you have a nice Christmas. We hope Jesus will have a nice Christmas. How are you doing? love April, second grade. Merry Christmas.

I'm having a great Christmas April; it has been made even greater by these wonderful cards and letters I got from you and your class.

And I am sure that Jesus is having a wonderful Christmas too. Look at how many people came to his birthday party.

Jesus will have an even better Christmas if everyone here has a real experience of his love for them.

You see, we all have our mangers of defeat; we all have our places of hope and promise that have turned into defeat and pain. We may even feel as separate from the institutional church as the "mangy, stinking, bathless shepherds of old standing in ritual uncleanness and lacking in religious status,"

Yet, the message is the same. The manger is filled with something new.

The prophet is crying in the distant past

"See, I am doing something new
Do you not perceive it
Now it springs forth
In the desert I make a way."

Jesus will have the best Christmas he has ever had, if all the people of the world gather around him now and celebrate this new way that he came to bring, when everyone gathers into the new House of God he came to build, and lives together as brothers and sisters of one family.

Jesus will have the best Christmas he has ever had when we become more aware that by his birth, by God taking our flesh and blood and living with us, he has raised our status as flesh and blood and we pay it the same honor we pay to God. In this child we worship God with us, and so what ever we do for any child we do for God. Whatever we do for the least among us, we do for God. What ever we do for flesh and blood, we do for God. How we respect our own body, how we cherish our spouses, children, even the stranger, is how we honor respect and cherish the presence of God.

By his birth God has become subject to all that is human, and we now subject ourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ. No one is ever treated as an object or a toy again. In the mysteries of this birth the truth of God is revealed to us and we are revealed to ourselves.

The child in the manger has a question for all of us, and we continue to learn the ways of God through the questions of children. He wants to know, now that none are excluded, and all are invited. He wants to know if we will follow. He wants to know if we will be his friend, and seek to spend time with him. He wants to know if we intend to take this truth of God’s presence and share it with the whole world. If we do, then he will have the best Christmas ever, and so will these children, and so will all of us.

Merry Christmas.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 1:04 PM link
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The Child Jesus invites us to the grotto and teaches us that in order to accomplish good it is necessary to suffer; the Child Jesus presents himself to us between Mary and Joseph, and they are our consolers in all of our activities; the Child Jesus is warmed by the ox and by the donkey; the ox is the symbol of hard work. The acceptance of being scorned, even when doing some good work, is symbolized in the donkey who works and is not cared for. Finally, the infancy of Jesus encourages us to be childlike in spirit and this is to be our delight. Pray and have the others do so too so that, while recalling these basic principles, they should become more firmly fixed in the soul and put into practice through the performance of holy works.

St. Gaspar del Bufalo, Rome, December 23, 1830

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 12:14 AM link
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Busy days, shopping finished, cards mailed, audblog not working today. I sang O Emmanuel by myself in this empty house while all the missionaries were out at penance services. Blessed Christmas to all. I will post my homily in the morning if this dial-up is cooperative.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 12:11 AM link
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