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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 23, 1994     The Message
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December 23, 1994
 

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Perspective-- Where do you find Christmas? It was such a good idea every- body suddenly agreed with it -- even though it was exactly the op- posite of what they said a minute earlier. At least that is how I saw it happening. We were talking about Christ- mas. Specifically, we were talking about a television program on Christmas. A group of us -- representatives and members of a wide range of faith traditions -- were planning a program for presentation on a local television station. We were in the early stages of discussion -- so early, in fact, that we had not yet agreed on any- thing. A lot of the talk had been about the commercial- ization of Christmas. There were comments about how decorations went up before Thanksgiving, be- fore Halloween, even shortly after Labor Day, it seemed. Money. Expensive gifts. "Holidays" instead of "Holy Days." Christmas time expectations and pressures. Depression. The topics spilled out onto the table. Smiles grew thin. Faces were'long. Words seemed inadequate. Creativity seemed be- yond reach. Then came the breakthrough. One of the participants in our meeting said he thought our Christmas program ought to include By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR some footage from the shopping mall. I am sure I was not alone in thinking he wanted to show how commercial Christmas had become. But I was wrong. That was not his intention. He wanted to show something quite the contrary. He wanted us to see that even in the midst of a frenzy of consumer spending, we could still find a bit of the true meaning of Christmas. He wanted to take the television camera to a shelter, too, where homeless and hungry had found help and human kindness. And to a church, where the presence of Jesus Christ was vis- ible in the people who formed the community of be- lievers. Enough has been written and said about the fail- ings of modern society, about how people today have strayed from their fail;h, about how families are failing and about how selfish everyone has be- come. Christmas is an opportunity for us to tell the story of the gift that is available to each of us, the gift that is offered once and forever from the giver of all gifts, the gift of God's love in the human form of Jesus Christ. Christmas shoppers spend more than money. Se- lection of a gift for another could easily be an occa- sion of sin -- if the gift is intended to impress or to control. It could just as easily be an occasion of grace -- an opportunity, if only for a put another person first in our lives. Selecting a gift could be the way of God's love is again made present in a which is often too busy to notice. Is it not here that God becomes one of us, become forever related to God? When we give ter to the homeless and drink to the we bear witness to the love of God in our when we speak the word to famil and to strangers, too -- here is * * * Where do you find Christmas? At your neighborhood? In your ( What do you remember from your If there are children in your home, how is ! Christmas different from the Christmas childhood? And here's an ever question: How is it the same? Why do you buy gifts? Why do you * * * Take a moment to think about someone important in your life, and give son the present of your presence. It will ference. Questions and comments are Christian Family Movement, Ames, Iowa 50010. Vatican Letter Getting in trim: Christmas comes to the Vatican By JOHN THAVIS Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS.)- In early December, a 14-wheel flatbed truck pulled into a Vat- ican parking lot after a Euro- pean journey. With the arrival of Pope John Paul II's Christ- mas tree, the yuletide season was officially underway. Even as the truck's gearbox was cooling down, the pope suggested that Christmas was a perfect period for reflection, a time to create "a climate of si- lence and prayer." But at the Vatican, 'tis also the season of ceremonies, crowds and gift- giving, perhaps best described to the accompaniment of Christmas carols. "O tannenbaum, O tannen- baum..." Looking down from his apartment window, the pope can see workers string yellow and white bulbs on one of the world's tallest Christmas trees. This year's came from a Slo- vakian forest and, at about 75 The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evanswlle Pubsher .............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger Edito ............................................ Paul Leingang Proa, Manager .......................... P B0ge C  .................................. ),my H0usman - Adverting .................................... Paul Newland Staff Writer ........... : ................. Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O: Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- t=on number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Offe of Publication feet, stands almost as high as the Egyptian obelisk in the center of St. Peter's Square. The gaps in the branches are artfully filled by screwing extra boughs into the trunk. For Romans, it's the only giant Christmas tree in town: the "green" city government opted not to put one up this year as an ecology statement. "Deck the halls with boughs of holly..." The Vatican's marble hall- ways are decked with paintings all year long, and holly wouldn't blend into the decor. But here and there -- like the foyer of the Secretariat of State -- a nativity scene is set up. Anything more lavish would show a "lack of se- riousness," as one Curia member put it. Insiders say the pope's own apartment, by contrast, is packed with traditional Polish decorations that remain for sev- eral weeks after Christmas. "...and a partridge in a pear tree." That may be one of the few gifts the pope doesn't receive during the Christmas season. Santa rings daily for the pon- tiff at the Bronze Doors, leav- ing letters and packages with Swiss Guards and papal aides. There are fresh-baked sweets, children's art, clothing and re- ligious items -- all of them opened by the papal household, and many quietly donated to local centers for the poor and homdless. "He knows if you've been bad or gond, so be good for good- ness' sake..." The pope gets to play Santa Claus, too. Vatican employees receive a Christmas bonus of sparkling wine and Italian "panettone" cake. In 1992 the pope replaced the panettone with a copy of the new cate- chism. Some workers are won- his rosary recital, will be in their stockings this Christmas. "...to hear sleigh bells in the snow..." The last time it snowed heavily in Rome was in the late 1980s, so you can forget about sleigh rides. But St. Peter's Square is a starting point for the traditional horse- pulled carriages that clatter down the city's cobblestoned streets. Passengers hear the blare of car horns, not bells; prices start at about $50 for a half-hour jaunt. "AWay in a manger, no crib for his bed..." It was the pope's idea to erect a nativity scene next to the Christmas tree. Unveiled on Christmas Eve, it is the size. of a house and acts as a mag- net for tourists and Romans. The baby Jesus lies on a bed of straw; next year, however, the Vatican could offer a room at its own inn. Just behind St. Peter's Basilica looms the nearly completed Domus Sanc- tae Marthae, which will pro- vide 110 two-room suites for visiting prelates -- and per- haps some lay guests. "...and heaven and nature sing..." The pope was to join hun- dreds at the second annual Vatican Christmas concert Dec. 16, starring pop star Peter Gabriel, operatic soprano Renata Scotto:and blind gui- tarist Jose Feliciano, with choral and orchestral rendi- tions of Christmas favorites. Bring your billfold: Ticket prices range from $125 to $625, with proceeds going to Rome church-building projects. "...the goose is getting fat, please to put a penny in the old man's hat." The Vatican has no Salva- tion Army Santas and allows dering whether the pope's new no begging on its premises. But ,,,   book,'or perhn-theaew OD vf"  beneficence- i in 4he - air:. -The pope's own "apostolic charity "Go, tell it on the office" helps out families at Christmas with rent payments and heating bills. A few steps away from St. Peter's Square, Mother Teresa's hospice for the poor celebrates with a big meal on Christmas Day -- the pope has even dropped in to eat with them. "..,all is calm, all is bright..." Bright, yes, especially at midnight on Christmas Eve when the lights of St. Peter's Basilica suddenly burst on in celebration of Jesus' birth. Calm, no, especially if you're one of the 10,000 pilgrims pushing and elbowing toward a good view of the pope as he walks up the center aisle. Angels may have Christ's birth to today, the news TV broadcasts the world by sa pope's Christmas night is seen in countries each tential viewing billion people. All this means tide countdown for Vatican, a ling, tra-la-Is and tum. When the all a red-robed want for Chrietmai a few chestnuts and settle into Bishop's sch The following activities and events are schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger : cellnes and lay : ttrsday, Jan. 5, |