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True Meaning of Christmas

By Fr Dominic Gomes, Vicar General

It was nearing Christmas day, when, one day, a lady had just finished the household chores. She was preparing to go to bed, when she heard a noise outside the house, and to her utter surprise, Santa appeared from behind the Christmas Tree. He placed his  finger over his mouth so that she would not scream. The lady asked, “What are you doing here?” The words choked up in her throat, and she saw he had tears in his eyes. Santa’s usual jolly self and manner was gone. He was no longer the eager and boisterous character we all knew and loved.

He answered her with a simple statement, “TEACH THE PEOPLE!”  She was now really puzzled not knowing what he meant. He realized this and with one quick movement began taking out gifts from his bag. He continued, “Teach them the old meaning of Christmas. The true meaning now-a-days is forgotten.”

He pulled out a Fir Tree and placed it in front of the fire place, and said, “Teach them that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, representing the everlasting hope of God’s love for all mankind. All the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man’s thoughts turning toward heaven.”

Santa pulled out of his bag, a brilliant Star. “Teach the people that the star was God’s heavenly sign of His eternal promise and His fulfillment of sending His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3:16.

He reached into his bag again and pulled out a Candle. “Teach the people that the candle signifies that Christ is the Light of the world, and when we see this light we are reminded of Jesus who fills our life with light. And so we, ourselves, must radiate this light to the homeless, the poor and rejected of society. We have to be Jesus’ beacon of light to all.”

Next, Santa removed a Wreath and placed it on the tree. He said, “Teach the people that the wreath represents the real nature of God’s love, which is unceasing, and endless.”

He then pulled out from his bag, an Ornament of Himself. He continued, “Teach the children that I, Santa Clause symbolize the generosity and kindness of Jesus, especially at this time. They need to take on this nature of Christ, so that they can give Jesus to others in Word and Deed.”

Santa then brought out a Holly Leaf saying, “Teach the people that this holly leaf represents immortality. It shows the crown of thorns worn by our precious Savior. The red holly represents the blood shed by Jesus.”

Next, he pulled out a Gift from his bag and said, “Teach the people that God so loved the world that HE gave us HIS only SON. We thank God for this eternal gift of Jesus. Tell the children that the wise men bowed before the Holy Baby, and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh. We, also, are to give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men.”

Santa then took out a Sugar Cane and hung it on the tree. “Teach the people that the sugar cane represents the shepherd’s crook. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, through us, helps to bring back the lost sheep. He is always there, and in our darkest moments He is closest to us. His crook and staff, they comfort me.”

He then pulled out a replica of an Angel. “Teach the people that it was the angels who heralded Jesus’ birth, and announced the good news. It is also for us to give the good news of Jesus to the broken hearted, prisoners, the poorest of the poor, and share the peace, mercy and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Suddenly, the lady heard a soft tinkling sound. From his bag, he pulled out a Bell. “Teach the people that just as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, we also listen to Jesus’ Word as softly manifested through the power of God’s Holy Spirit and His holy Word, to bring us to the place that Jesus embodies has called us to be. The bell symbolizes guidance and return. It reminds us that we are all precious in the eyes of God.”

Santa was now pleased, and the lady saw a twinkle in his eyes as he said, “Remember, teach the people the TRUE MEANING of Christmas and do not put me in the center, for I also am only humble servant of the Almighty God, and I bow down and worship Him. Remember, to tell them to put Jesus in the center of their lives so that he can fill them with His Love, Peace and Mercy, and the only peace that passes all understanding will fill their hearts is Christ Jesus.”

By Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur

loboThis announcement brought three typical reactions from three categories of people.

 1. Shepherds are simple  people and belong to  the labor class. The news brings joy to them and they share the joy with others. They go and find the family of Jesus and tell them  what they had heard from the angel.

These people are  engrossed in their life of struggle of making the ends meet. They have their joys and sorrows. They tend to accept all that comes on their way – even injustice. They want ‘status quo’ position. They are unaware of the power of their collective strength which can radically change their destiny.  They hardly participate in the process of social change  and prefer to remain indifferent.

The savior is born to empower them to stand up work for their freedom. The news that the Savior is born cannot be good unless the people partake in the process of change that would make them to fight against all type of evil. Peace and prosperity bloom where there is common commitment to truth, justice and love.

2. Wise men from the east were curious (Mtt 2:1 ff). They wanted to find the reality of the sign in heaven – a special star (Num 24:17). They go  mentally prepared and make sacrifice to buy gifts to the new king.  They managed to trace the new King of the Jews and pay homage to him.

The wise men were essentially good people. They  did not understand crookedness and dishonesty of King Herod.  Such people are too good.  Our goodness should not  make us blind to the wickedness of people like Herod. We need, like the wise men, to keep our eyes open and see the wickedness of others. People of good will must be alert and see the evil in the world.

3. King Herod represents oppressors, power brokers and perpetrators of evil design for mass destruction.  Birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is a threat to him. He assumes the garb of seeker and finds details of the child that was born. He orders to kill the child. It is a pity that the king did not learn the lesson of history that shedding innocent blood does not solve problems nor does it help to fulfill social, political and personal goals and aspirations. Swami Vivekananda had reminded the world that “Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant – fanaticism- have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often  with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent the whole nations to despair. Had it not been these horrible demons, human society would be more advanced than it is now. But their time is come.”

                May this Christmas bring joy, peace, love and faith  to you and to your family, especially during this Year of Faith..

“I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”  (Lk. 2:11-12)
This announcement bro-ught three typical reactions from three categories of people.
1. Shepherds are simple  people and belong to  the labor class. The news brings joy to them and they share the joy with others. They go and find the family of Jesus and tell them  what they had heard from the angel.
These people are  engrossed in their life of struggle of making the ends meet. They have their joys and sorrows. They tend to accept all that comes on their way – even injustice. They want ‘status quo’ position. They are unaware of the power of their collective strength which can radically change their destiny.  They hardly participate in the process of social change  and prefer to remain indifferent.
The savior is born to empower them to stand up work for their freedom. The news that the Savior is born cannot be good unless the people partake in the process of change that would make them to fight against all type of evil. Peace and prosperity bloom where there is common commitment to truth, justice and love.
2. Wise men from the east were curious (Mtt 2:1 ff). They wanted to find the reality of the sign in heaven – a special star (Num 24:17). They go  mentally prepared and make sacrifice to buy gifts to the new king.  They managed to trace the new King of the Jews and pay homage to him.
The wise men were essentially good people. They  did not understand crookedness and dishonesty of King Herod.  Such people are too good.  Our goodness should not  make us blind to the wickedness of people like Herod. We need, like the wise men, to keep our eyes open and see the wicked-ness of others. People of good will must be alert and see the evil in the world.
3. King Herod represents oppressors, power brokers and perpet-rators of evil design for mass destruction.  Birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, is a threat to him. He assumes the garb of seeker and finds details of the child that was born. He orders to kill the child. It is a pity that the king did not learn the lesson of history that shedding innocent blood does not solve problems nor does it help to fulfill social, political and personal goals and aspirations. Swami Viveka-nanda had reminded the world that “Sect-arianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant – fanaticism- have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often  with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent the whole nations to despair. Had it not been these horrible demons, human society would be more advanced than it is now. But their time is come.”
May this Christmas bring joy, peace, love and faith  to you and to your family, especially during this Year of Faith..

Henry-DSouza-CulcuttaWho will preach the Gospel of love? That is the pressing question of today. Guns are booming. Violence and hatred are all too visible. The political scene is divided and depressing. The ordinary citizen can feel desperate and discouraged.

But then it is Christmas. It is a time of joy and laughter. The angels are singing in the heavens. “Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of goodwill.” One of them informs the shepherds. “Today is born a Savior in Bethlehem. You will find the mother with a child wrapped in swaddling clothes laid in a manger.”

During the last World War, the Allies and the Nazis fought bitterly in Europe. The struggle went on for four years. Yet every Christmas night all the guns fell silent. All the soldiers laid down their arms. People on both sides of the battlefield prayed for peace. It has remained a shining example of what the Christian faith can do.

Christ came to bring love into the world. He would tell us that the two great Commandments were love of God and love of neighbour. It was for this reason that God became man. Jesus came into the world as a child. His message was that in human weakness real strength is found. The bond that binds us together is love.

                Hence we sing:

“Richer than gold is the love of my Lord.

Better than splendour and wealth.

Love is his way, love is his mark.

Love is his name, love is his sign.”

                Happy Christmas to all!

Who will preach the Gospel of love? That is the pressing question of today. Guns are booming. Violence and hatred are all too visible. The political scene is divided and depressing. The ordinary citizen can feel desperate and discouraged.
But then it is Christmas. It is a time of joy and laughter. The angels are singing in the heavens. “Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of goodwill.” One of them informs the shepherds. “Today is born a Savior in Bethlehem. You will find the mother with a child wrapped in swaddling clothes laid in a manger.”
During the last World War, the Allies and the Nazis fought bitterly in Europe. The struggle went on for four years. Yet every Christmas night all the guns fell silent. All the soldiers laid down their arms. People on both sides of the battlefield prayed for peace. It has remained a shining example of what the Christian faith can do.
Christ came to bring love into the world. He would tell us that the two great Commandments were love of God and love of neighbour. It was for this reason that God became man. Jesus came into the world as a child. His message was that in human weakness real strength is found. The bond that binds us together is love.
Hence we sing:
“Richer than gold is the love of my Lord.
Better than splendour and wealth.
Love is his way, love is his mark.
Love is his name, love is his sign.”
Happy Christmas to all!

Archbishop Thomas DSouza2The story of Christmas is a story of love: God’s love for His people, for us.  The expression of that love is the person of Jesus Christ born as a babe in Bethlehem.  Every year, as we celebrate Christmas, we remind ourselves that God’s love was not once for all; it is a love that repeats itself every year, every day, every moment.  In other words, Christmas as a celebration of God’s love, is a continuous celebration!  God has given to the world, to us, the greatest gift: His only Son.  The liturgy and  an atmosphere filled with Christmas carols and joy are an experience of that celebration of God’s love.

Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity became flesh and pitched his tent among us (Jn.1:14) to teach us that the love which God has shown towards mankind, should be shared among us.  This sharing should be a sharing of one’s life and its gifts with those who, for some reason or other, are poor and needy.  Jesus’ commandment of love is: “Love one another as I have loved you..By this will people know that you are my disciples if you love another” (Jn. 15:12).  Christmas is a strong reminder for us of that commandment of love, of our need to share.

Since God’s love is present every moment, since Jesus is with us always, until the end of time (Mt.28:20), our sharing of our life and its gifts with those who need our care, has to be continuous. Just as peace is not a season, sharing cannot be restricted to a particular season such as Christmas.  Sharing, care, concern and love ought to be our way of life: continuous giving, caring at all times, ready to share and serve always!  Then, Christmas will become meaningful since it will be a celebration of sharing done throughout the year, as it is a celebration of God’s continuous love and giving, celebrated very specially at Christmas !

In the context of the Church in the Archdiocese of Calcutta, making sharing, love, peace and service a way of life, is possible through Small Christian Communities.  When Catholic families  gather regularly   to share the word of God, when they experience their unity in faith in the celebration of the Eucharist, God’s love becomes a life-giving force that reaches out to those in need in the community.  Thus sharing of one’s life and its gifts with the needy in that community, becomes a way of life for all the members  of that community. Vibrant Small Christian Communities in our Parishes can make a difference in the lives of many, very specially those who need our love, care and service.

May this Christmas help us to realize that each one of us has a mission: to experience God’s love and share it with others, especially with those in need, in a thousand different ways, every day, every moment, making such sharing, giving and serving a way of life, and such a way of life will be peace and joy!  May this peace and joy be yours this Christmas and every day of your life!

Nativity_tree2011One of the traditional expectations at the time of Christmas is the exchange of gifts; not only the young people who exchange gifts, even the seniors exchange simple gifts as a sign of happiness and joy that the feast brings to them.

The greatest gift that God has given is the Savior, and in exchange all that he wants of us is our commit-ment to his love, to be faithful to what the greatest gift entails – an adherence to what the Savior would tell us: love God, love neighbor, which would become the credo of his entire life, and for which he would lay down his life.

Today the world is very much in need of the precious gift of presence. The world is becoming more and more a lonely planet, with everyone find private spaces, not wishing others to walk in. Gadgets are fast replacing human interaction; even the little interaction today are mediated by gadgets, the mobile and internet technology have created walls between one another.

The poor and those who struggle to eke a living have something very beautiful and very fulfilling : their presence. They have time and they have the patience to put up with the whims and fancies of the modern world, this is the gift that the Savior gives to the world too. His presence!

In the Old Testament, God’s presence is often portrayed in the form of a tent; the cloud and the fire were often said to be hovering over the tent, which represented the presence of God. In the Gospel according to John we are told that the Word became flesh and pitched its tent in the midst of people, to stay with. This is a wonderful gift that we have received from God, a gift which is far superior to any other we could wish for.

If there is an alarming rate of suicide in the world, it is largely because they have not recognized this great gift of presence that God has given to the world. In a passing world, there is one thing that we can set our hearts on fire – the presence of the Savior in our midst.

What children need in our homes today is not so much more money, credit cards, sophisticated gadgets to keep themselves busy, but more time from the part of their parents and other siblings. Children who do not experience the love and affection of their parents often end up with psycho-logical disorders, too hard to correct, and may even turn out to be social misfits, if proper guidance is not forthcoming.

We require the Savior to pitch his tend in the midst of such families, so that they might feel Jesus drawing the lonely hearts to himself.

During Christmas the greatest gift we could offer to one another is the gift of our presence. Spending a few extra minutes with a friend who cares for us, spending an extra hour with our children sharing their joys and sorrows, dropping it at frequently at homes to spend some quality time with old and ailing parents, these are gifts which can bring down the heavenly blessings on the world.

The world is badly in need of human presence, a human touch; children need the loving touch of their parents, and do not want to be relegated to the care of maids, youth love to have quality time with their parents, who would understand the struggle they go through and help them cope with the pain and agony of growth period. The elderly and the terminally sick need our loving care.

Christmas can become truly meaningful when we bring down the presence of the Savior in word and deed by being present to those who need us the most. It is only then that we would be able to experience the joy of the shepherds, and join chorus of the angels: Glory to God in the highest!

By Julian S Das

The Jesuits of Calcutta Province celebrated the Jubilee of eight Jesuits, Nov. 16 at St Xavier’s College.

Bishop Linus Nirmal Gomes, Fr Christian Mignon and Fr Raymond Pilette celebrated seventy years of Religious Life in the Society of Jesus, while Fr Aloysius Carvalho and Fr Jean Englebert celebrated fifty years of Priesthood.

Fr Cyril Desbruslais, Fr Aelred Gomes and Fr Joseph Kallarangatt celebrated fifty years of Religious life in the Society of Jesus.

Except Fr Raymond Pilette, who is now back in Belgium, all the other Jubilarians were present for a concelebrated Thanksgiving Eucharist on the theme ‘You have done great things through me’, and a felicitation program.

Bishop Linus, the first bishop of Baruipur diocese, now engaged in active pastoral ministry in Dhaka, Bangladesh, shared with his Jesuit companions during the felicitation program, his vocation story. He narrated how good Fr Paul Turmes was instrumental in identifying God’s call in him and inviting him to join the Jesuits.

Translator of the Bible into modern Bengali and writer, Fr Christian Mignon too shared his vocation story, how he was almost sure he did not have the least inclination to become a priest, and how his life took a different turn when he said yes to join the Jesuits.

He said that he was almost sure that God wanted him to come to India, though he had known nothing about India, its rich culture or heritage.

Fr Jean Englebert recalled the several graces he had received from God, during the fifty years of his priesthood.

Fr Jean had been involved with translation of liturgical texts, assisting Fr Mignon in the translation of the Bible and proofreading it, Christian Life Community (CLC) promotion, compilation of Christian  hymns and expanding the existing hymnal (Geetsanchoy).

Fr Aloysius Carvalho had been involved different kinds of ministries, and had been termed as a man available for any kind of ministry, either in rural or in urban setup.

Born in Kolkata, Fr Carvalho too had the Belgian Jesuits to inspire him during his school days, and after his ordination was ready to take up any ministry which he was asked of.

Calcutta Jesuit Provincial, Fr Jeyaraj Veluswamy, while thanking God for the gift of the Jubilarians, said he felt humbled before these stalwarts, and yet proud of what they were able to achieve for the Lord and his mission.

In tribute to the great Jesuit Jubilarians, Jesuit Dancer, Fr Saju George presented a dance for the Rabindra Sangeet, ‘Pada prante rakho seboke’, sung by Jesuit singer, Fr Shyamal Makhal.

Professor of Biblical theology Fr Joseph Kallarangatt recalled the special grace he received in the Society of Jesus, which sent him for Biblical studies at Biblicum, and the opportunity to serve the Regional Seminary at Morning Star College, and his transfer to join the Jesuit Regional Theology Center in Patna.

By Julian S Das

Proofs of Authenticity

It is believed that every news report contains information and views which are authentic, and are not the personal and subjective views of the ‘reporter’. Therefore it is important that reports contain information collected from authentic sources, and that the sources are acknowledged in the report, so that the reader knows the source of a piece of information.

It is imperative that authentic sources are sought in order to get facts right; in this case, the most authoritative persons should be contacted and information should be drawn from them.

For instance, if a report talks about an SCC animation program, it is not enough filling the report with the time table, and who did what. That would be a boring and dull report, which may not interest readers.

Such a report should contain at least one quotation from the chief organizer of the program on, for instance, the purpose of the workshop, and what would be the kind of followup programs envisaged; views and opinions of one or two of the participants could enliven the report. Unfortunately very few of the reports we receive contain any authentic source quoted.

When quoting the participants, it is important to give an identity of the person who is being quoted; besides providing the full name of the person, from where he or she is coming from, what is the profession of the person and what parish… these are some of the useful and interesting information, which can add to the authenticity of the persons quoted.

Often it would be good to provide the age of the person, soon after the name, so that the reader is able to understand the background well. For instance, Shyamlal Mandi, 36, of Kamarchowki parish under Midnapore deanery; or Dipika Mondal, 41, who is a teacher at the diocesan Holy Family School in Kharagpur; these information may help the reader to understand the person better.

While it is interesting to let people speak for themselves, through quotations, it may also become too boring, if the report is filled with only quotations one after another. On an average, there should not be more than five quotations from one person in a report.

Direct quotations should be interspersed with paraphrasings and third person narrative. Take a good look at the following example: Translator of the modern Bengali Bible, Jesuit Father Christian Mignon, 88, said, “I was asked by my superiors to undertake translating the liturgical texts into Bengali, and I accepted reluctantly.”

The Belgium-born priest, who had spent 45 years translating the Bible said giving the Word of God in the best possible way in Bengali was the mission of his life.

“All along I was led by the Spirit of God, including to places where I did not want to,” said Fr Mignon.

Here the second paragraph is a quotation, but is given in indirect speech in order to break the monotony of giving quotations one after another.  Notice also the amount of minute details which are provided in these lines. All these information help the reader to understand the person who is quoted in the text.

One should not give quotations which are clicheic and are meaningless. For instance, “I am Father James Roy and I have been in this parish for the past 12 years” is very boring and clicheic. It would be best to provide these information in indirect speech, and combine it with a significant piece of information.

This could be rewritten as follows : Parish priest of St Augustine’s Church in Gorbeta, Father James Roy said, “Missionary work in Bengal is no more easy, because of the political disturbances caused by petty politicians.”

Father Roy, who has been the parish priest of Gorbeta for the past 12 years said that people were becoming too suspicious of missionaries.

While quoting important persons, it is important to use the same words as much as possible, which the persons had used, so that the reporter does not take liberty unnecessarily paraphrasing some important points, and later on land up in controversies.

It is also important to look for only the people who are significant to the story, and not necessarily the high and mighty. The readers will surely be interested in hearing the “underdogs” speak about a particular issue.

For instance, if the report is about laity and clergy conflict in a particular parish, the first authentic persons who could give vital information are those who are involved with the particular incident, as much as possible both the parties.

Or if the report or feature is about dengue deaths in Kolkata, the first authentic information could be the government sources. The Department of Health of the government would have the data, which is the official one. Besides giving the official data, a reporter may also give other sources which may have used the data. It could be a daily or a website or even an ‘expert’ in the field.

One may also get the family members of those who have lost a member due to dengue, to get the ground reality, and what their grievances against the corporation. This could also indirectly help the corporation to be on a high alert.

Authenticity adds to the weight of a report or feature. Once the reader knows that the information provided are authentic and so trustworthy, they may tend to trust the story too.

One may have to make use of all the sources and connects available at the disposal, in order to get the right sources to get the right information.

By Sr Bridget Chelladurai, SCC

A quiet mind is not only resilient and peace-filled, it is free to ponder what might be – and it is finally creative! It has reserves in store to both power-thinking processes and to explore the vast mindscape of possibilities before it.

The trend of the post-modern society is to live in the midst of noise. The youth of today can never imagine of a place without noise. There was a time, when people were drawn to the music for its serenity, calmness; and today tranquility is now turned out to be one of clamor and clatter.

The screaming horns of automobiles, jarring music at mega-malls, celebrations and festivals, louder ring tone of mobiles in public transports could be the cause of noise pollution. Impulses transmitted through the nerves by these sounds cause muscular movements which detract from real quietness. If the reaction is sufficiently severe, it partakes of the nature of shock.

Noise pollution leads to emotional imbalance. Scientific experiments show that noise in the place where we work, live, or sleep reduces efficiency to a noticeable degree. The mind loses its stamina and gets drained out of its energy through various sounds around. Metropolitan cities are needless to speak of this phenomenon.

Due to this individuals get more tensed, emotionally worked up, harsh in words, arrogant in action, leading to inhuman behavior, ending up by killing one another. They become utterly vulnerable to handle the problems of daily life. They lose the capacity for problem solving. They forget the fact that wisdom and power spring from a quiet mind.

In modern life, the practice of silence is not as simple as it was in the days of our foreparents. A vast number of noise producing gadgets make our daily program noisy.

God of all goodness fashioned this universe in silence and solitude. The blossoming of the bud, the rising of the sun, emergence of the tender shoot and the newness of life of a seed take place in stillness.

Creative energy increases when the mind is emerged in quietness. Stillness is the birthplace of wisdom. The wisdom of the wise comes from divine and the experience of the divine is possible only in silence. Quietness is the channel of source where innovative artists, poets and writers are born.

The Bible says that Jesus always went to a lonely place to be energized and recharged by His union with the Father. When He was questioned by the Pharisees, words of wisdom came out of His mouth. He was a man of few words, but full of insights.

We know that our minds are more powerful than generally imagined them to be. Most of us are trained to use only a limited part of the optimum human capacity. Here are a few ways through which we can generate the power of our mind in stillness:

  • Time to be set apart to read the Word of God;
  • Early in the morning play light music or religious songs in the house, work place and in the vehicle;
  • Visit places of worship as a family and remain in silence for a few minutes in order to silence the mind;
  • Be sensitive to nature and people by reducing the use of strident music;
  • Minimize the volume of ringtone in mobile phones;
  • Curtail the use of automobile horns;
  • Get quiet time each day to be alone and thoughtful and reflective, especially before going to bed;
  • Be disciplined regarding self-talk. Make it constructive and fair, but commit to quieting your mind.

Being still in our society in the twenty-first century is not easy to do but the rewards are worth it. This is sheer freedom. If we want to achieve anything of real worth, we ought to realize that simplicity, resilience, faith, peace, and creativity are genuine keys to success.

 

By Fr Mervyn Carapiet

St Paul’s letter to the Colossians states, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created…He himself is before all things…for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things…by making peace through the blood of the cross.” “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him…He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them all” (1, 15-20 and 2, 9-15).

The pre-eminence of Jesus Christ is the transcendent critique of superstition, magic and political authority. The letter to the Colossians was aimed at solving the crisis in the community. The Christians of Colossae were living without purpose, prisoners of obscure forces arising from within the world itself, leaving them with what they thought the only option of manipulating them by special cultic practices. In a situation of religious fear, the Christians of Colossae saw their salvation depending upon a complex of human practices and observance of rites. And for explaining the unfathomable laws of the world and history the Colossians acknowledged a system of intermediary spirits between God and creation, which presided over the cosmos and the destiny of the world. The letter to the Colossians indicates that there were doctrines that had to do with angelic powers (1, 16; 2, 18) and ascetical practices (2, 16) that were advocated at Colossae in a way that detracted from the person of Jesus Christ (2, 16-23).

Paul clearly affirms that Christ possesses the sum total of redemptive power (1, 19). Christ is the exemplary cause of creation (1, 15-16) and the efficient cause of redemption (1, 20; 2, 13-14). His death pacifies creation’s disharmony and now he is established in cosmic lordship (1, 20; 2, 15). Christ’s supremacy requires that nothing appear in creation except in relation to him and also that he himself shares in the creation of all things. The cosmos is dependent upon him (1, 19), his death upon the cross has its effects on the whole of creation, pacifying it and uniting it to God (1, 20).

The Lordship of Christ is not to be regarded in the same way as that of the spirit powers, a dominance that would deprive man of free choice in his destiny. With Christ this is not so. The lordship of Christ means no alienation for humanity or for creation. Jesus in effect had won it in the depth of his life as man. His lordship is exercised in the context of human toil, “recapitulating” and gradually spiritualising creation. This relationship to nature is essential to Christ’s lordship. By working for a progressive spiritualization of creation, man participates in the reign of Christ over all things.

He does not need magic for this. Christ then is Lord of a creation that finds its harmony in a restored humanity. The mystery of the Resurrection is the foundation for the reconciliation of body and soul, of matter and spirit, of heaven and earth. “None of us should be afraid and none should capitulate. God can always be found. Our most important task is not to assert ourselves, but always be ready to set off on the way to God and to each other. The feast of Christ the King is therefore not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who know that they are in hands of the one who writes straight on crooked lines” (Benedict XVI, Christ the King, in Benedictus, Ignatius Press 2012, pg. 356).

Granting the truth of the above reflection, it is not possible to see how superstition and the magic mentality can square with the Christian attitude.

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) — Three youth movements of Kolkata have formed a consortium along with a host of student bodies, alumni associations and Non Government Organisations to celebrate Christmas Fiesta 2012 – a two day event, Dec. 15-16 at St Xavier’s Collegiate School Kolkata.

“A first of its kind fiesta, it involves two fun filed days of healthy competition among 25 of the best schools and colleges, in various events as well as stage shows and guest performances,” says president of the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM) Kolkata Albert Sanjoy Gomes.

The ICYM director Fr Gnana Peppin adds, “apart from the expected student audiences, we are inviting the residents of the Old-Age Homes, Orphanages and Homes for street children to spread the Christmas cheer.”

“I think that this endeavour of our youth to share the joy of the season with the less fortunate and the forgotten deserves our every support,” says Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata endorsing their efforts.

In an appeal sent out soliciting participation, donation, sponsorship, and advertising for the event the archbishop adds, “I would earnestly urge you to support this noble initiative in any way possible – cash, kind, effort and prayers.”

A Christmas Bazaar will provide NGOs working with the differently-abled, marginalised and vulnerable groups, to showcase and sell their wares like greeting cards, candles, Christmas decorations, cakes, handicrafts, as well as food items.

The core group of organisers includes youth groups ICYM, Young Christian Students (YCS) and Leadership Training Service (LTS).

On the evening of Christmas (25th Dec at 5.00 pm) youth groups from Auxilium and Christ the King parishes along with Don Bosco and Queen of the Missions Schools will present “The Miracle of Christmas” an open air event in the Park Circus maidan.

The three hour programme will feature multilingual choirs, and Christmas pageant. This year, after the Christmas message by Archbishop Thomas D’Souza, Baul Samrat Sanajit Mondol will render Christmas story in folk music.