Christmas Message from A Comboni Father
2020-12-23 10:00:27 作者：P. Manuel Augusto
Editor's note: Father Manuel P. Manuel Augusto Lopes Ferreira, MCCJ, is a member of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus from Portugal. He served as the Superior General the Comboni Missionaries (1997-2003), the Provincial of Portugal Province, and the founder of publications such as the World Mission, and currently serves at the Generalate of the Comboni Missionaries in Rome. This is his latest Christmas greeting and sharing letter to us.
Rome, 16 of December 2020
Dear friend Fr. John,
Today we enter the Christmas Novena.
I hope you are well as I feel the need to communicate with you, with friends, to say a word after this isolation and forced fasting of communication that the pandemic has forced us to. But on the other hand, I am not sure how to do it, I find it difficult to break the silence and put the words together. The pandemic has made us experience how insufficient words are to bring comfort and communion, to offer some glimmer of light and joy.
Yes, at Christmas we speak of Hope and Joy, at the coming of Jesus, in the celebration of his birth in Bethlehem. And we need hope and joy so much, tormented and bewildered as we are by the loss of life and the unjust deaths of our friends and companions. We, Comboni Missionaries in Italy, in a little less than two recent weeks, in a community of elderly in Verona, have lost fifteen missionaries, not all of them so old and all entitled to a quiet old age. And in our community here in Rome we have lost the smile and the beautiful presence of the superior of our community, Fr. Celestino, who failed to survive after a month of fighting the virus in a hospital. During his struggle, we accompanied him in the hope that the Lord of Life would return him to our conviviality; instead, He welcomed him into the eternal conviviality. To God’s love and mercy, we entrust him.
When we learned that Father Celestine's health had worsened and that only the machines kept him alive, we were at Mass and sang the song "You are living fire". The verse that the solo singer said: "You are the burning spouse who returns at night, of my day you are the embrace. Behold, this day of sighs already rejoice with eternal joy. If with you, as you wish, I am consumed by love, I am at peace".
Yes, this uncertain and suspended time is still time to speak of peace, hope and joy. Or rather, time to let God speak to us, since our words do not know how to do so. I leave you with the words of the well-known poem by Charles Péguy (The porch of the mystery of the second virtue, hope), which a friend sent me, and I share here in the hope that this Christmas will bring us the light and joy that heal us inwardly.
"... hope, says God, this is what amazes me! To myself. This is astonishing.
That these poor children see how things are and believe that it will be better in the next morning.
That they see how things are today and believe that it will be better tomorrow.
This is amazing and is really the greatest wonder of our grace. And I myself am amazed at it [says God].
Faith is a faithful Bride. Charity is a Mother. Hope is an insignificant child.
Who came into the world on Christmas Day ... And yet it is this child who will cross the worlds.
This little child who is worth nothing. She alone, carrying the others, will cross the whole worlds.
As the star guided the three kings from the depths of the East.
To the cradle of my son. Thus, a flickering flame.
She alone will guide the virtues and the worlds.
A flame will spring from darkness"...
Merry Christmas, with my remembrance of friendship and prayer.
P. Manuel Augusto，MCCJ
Chinese Version 中文：一封来自金邦尼神父的圣诞问候函及分享