il-pont - no 41 Assisi - Italja
Christmas 2001 no 41
Peace from Assisi
Perhaps you’re wondering how these greetings are coming from Assisi? Indeed it is a right question! The answer is not that easy. All I can say is that the Ways of the Lord are so different than ours. And what’s more, they are so better than ours.
Six years ago at this time I was the happiest friar on earth. My dream that one day I would be a missionary was coming true. I was assigned to go to our Mission in India. I had everything prepared. The day of departure was fixed and the ticket was booked already. Man proposes and God disposes. What we have proposed didn’t work. I was not given the visa to enter India. When the door to India remains closed, our Minister General asked me if I was ready to serve the Order in the Philippines. Certainly I was! On January 6, 1996 I embarked on my new missionary experience in the Filipino Archipelago. During my four and a half stay in the Philippines I changed friaries four times. The Lord was teaching me that besides being a “missionary” He wanted me also to be “a pilgrim”. A pilgrim is never tied to one place. He is always on the move. It was so even with me. The Minister General asked me again if I was happy to serve the Order in Istanbul. So I moved again from the Philippines to Turkey. Now after only eighteen months I have moved again. This time from Istanbul to Assisi. The Minister General asked me again if I was happy to serve in Assisi. Certainly I was happy! I believe that every Franciscan carries a hidden desire to serve in the City where St Francis lived and where his spirit is still alive today! In all these laps where I have been I never was the one to ask where to go. I only made myself available to remain or to move according to the need. Everywhere I have been I always felt certain that the Lord wanted me there. Always and everywhere I tried to give my very best. Now the Lord brought me here. I have no doubt. The Lord wants me to serve his people here in Assisi. This is why my greetings come from Assisi - The Capital City of PEACE.
We have just learn that the Pope would be coming again to Assisi on January 24, 2002 for a Special Prayer for PEACE with the representative of all the World Religion. The world we are living in is so much in need of PEACE.
Before the coming of the Pope to Assisi, this coming December 25, THE PRINCE OF PEACE himself - Jesus Christ will be coming again in our midst as new born Babe. Let us open our heart as St Francis did and welcome the LORD of PEACE. Let us give PEACE a chance! My prayer this Christmas in Assisi shall be that of St Francis himself: Lord make us an instrument of YOUR PEACE.
I wish you and your loved ones a most PEACEFUL Christmas and may Christ’s PEACE be with you throughout 2002.
Francis on Christmas
at Greccio - Italy
Christmas was Francis favorite feast. He loved to celebrate how God came down to earth as a baby - how He had put Himself into the hands of men and trusted in their welcome. The Christmas story always brought tears to Francis’ eyes and joy to his heart.
In December 1223, when Frances was visiting Pope Honorius III in Rome, he wondered how he and his brothers could celebrate Christmas in a special way that year.
“I would like to arrange a Christmas Mass and recreate the nativity scene, with a manger and real animals,” Francis said to the Pope. “Would that be all right with the Church?” “Yes Francis, do as you wish,” answered the Pope. “You have our blessings.”
So Francis asked a friend in Greccio to arrange a nativity scene in a grotto on the mountainside. His friend built a manger and brought straw, an ox and a donkey and invited the people of Greccio to celebrate Christmas with Francis and his brothers.
On Christmas Eve, shortly before midnight, people from all over the area lit torches and walked up the mountain trails toward the grotto. It looked like streams of light surging through the woods toward that spot where God had become one with men. As the friars and the people gathered around the grotto. the place dazzled with light. A Mass was said using the Manger for the altar. Francis, who was the deacon, preached a joyous sermon about God’s love. Afterwards, several people claimed to have seen the real Baby Jesus in Francis’ arms. The child had smiled at Francis and stroked his beard. When the ceremony was over, people went home singing through the woods. Since that memorable night at Greccio, the nativity scene has become a way of celebrating Christmas all over the world.
Francis at Greccio 1223I
Let us open our heart as St Francis did and welcome the LORD of PEACE.
Let us give PEACE a chance!
My prayer this Christmas in Assisi shall be that of St Francis himself:
Lord make us
an instrument of YOUR PEACE.
Where there is darkness let us bring your