COME AND SEE
Get reacquainted with Jesus!
Alpha will be running at SSAP for 12 weeks beginning on Saturday February 4 from 2:00-3:30 pm into April 29 with an Easter break. Some meetings are face to face.
BELONG. BELIEVE. BECOME
In the Parish Bulletin, this week…
HOW TO USE DON BOSCO’S INSIGHT FOR A ‘WORKING SPIRITUALITY’
Feast Day: January 31
By Javier Gomez
What activity did you take up during the pandemic years? Was it baking? Gardening? Knitting? Did you learn a new instrument? Start working out? Take up cooking?
Personally, I picked up woodworking. It was so satisfying to cut and carve out raw wood. And then assemble it together and polish it into a finished product.
Most of the activities that people sought during the pandemic had to do with ‘using your hands.’ We all found solace in physically making something, even from scratch.
200 years ago, Don Bosco already knew that was true.
One of the most famous saints in the tradition, Don Bosco is well-known for being a teacher and all the schools he inspired. During his life, he focused on the disadvantaged youth in Italy. There he saw that for these troubled children, the usual way of teaching them was not working.
So, he didn’t force it.
Instead, he developed a new approach to education that focused on hands-on learning and included activities such as carpentry, printing, and agriculture. (Yep! It’s about getting people to use their hands for work.)
Getting skills helped those young people to find work. But, spiritually, it also helped them relax, calm down, and find some inner peace (just like it did for us in the last 3 years).
Here in the Philippines, this is what we associate Don Bosco with — all the vocational schools and technical skills — that a Don Bosco education provides.
But I also think we make a big mistake when we think of “Don Bosco”, “Disadvantaged Youth”, “Vocational Training”, and we immediately think “Oh, that’s not me. That’s for ‘those other’ people.”
Yes, you may not be a disadvantaged youth.
Yes, you probably don’t do any vocational work.
But just for a minute, exercise your spiritual imagination a little.
Aren’t you disadvantaged, struggling, and troubled?
I know I am. Technology, media, the news constantly fill me with anxiety.
Do you need to do some manual work?
I know I do. I’m always thinking, thinking, thinking.
But when I use my hands and garden, I focus on where I am in that moment. Nothing but what I see and the sensations of the task.
One of my favorite teachings from St. Pope John Paul II is about work. He says: “Since work is always a personal action it follows that the whole person, body and spirit, participates in it, no matter what kind of work it is.”
Don Bosco would emphasize the value of vocational work. He said that it had the ability to bring body and mind together. Good advice that we can all benefit from. We’re usually doing one thing with our body, and our mind is in a completely different place.
Remember, Jesus Himself was a carpenter!
Think back to your pandemic hobby, and how making something with your hands taught you lessons that you couldn’t get from just thinking. The slow process of making something, taking your time, making mistakes, learning and trying better next time is a school for spirituality.
Like Don Bosco, how are you using the work of your hands to teach yourself something spiritual today?
CANDLEMAS CUSTOMS AROUND THE WORLD
This February 2, as we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation, we celebrate Candlemas during which we bring candles to the church to be blessed. The candles represent Jesus Christ, and the blessing of the candles is in recognition of Christ as the “Light of the World”. Candlemas signifies hope, the coming of spring, and so much more.
Catholics from different parts of the world celebrate Candlemas with their own traditions. In addition to the blessing of candles, several countries have their own unique Candlemas customs – from vibrant festivals to the eating of crêpes and tamales. Let us learn more about these traditions from all over the world.
In France, Candlemas is known as La Chandeleur. It is also popularly known as Le Jour des Crêpes. The tradition of eating crêpes at Candlemas is attributed to Pope Gelasius the 1st, who had pancakes distributed to pilgrims as they arrived in Rome.
It is also said the tradition of eating crêpes started as it was a good way of using up the extra wheat before a new harvest. Symbolically, as a round crêpe looks like the sun, it was also a good reason to rejoice as the days started to get longer.
As well as eating crêpes or pancakes during Candlemas, all candles in the house are lit. Eating a dinner of crêpes with your loved ones under candlelight can be quite an enjoyable experience with a magical atmosphere.
Tradition also has many households putting their manger or Nativity scenes away on this day as Candlemas is the last feast of the Christmas cycle.
In Luxembourg, Liichtmëssdag is a holiday centered around children who roam the street in the afternoon or evening of February 2, holding a lit lantern or homemade wand. The children sing traditional songs at each house or store, and in exchange for the music, they would receive sweets or loose change.
Candlemas officially signifies the end of Christmas for Catholics in Puerto Rico. During this day, a procession is held where Nuestra Señora de Candelaria (Our Lady of the Light) is carried to church.
Fellow volunteers and believers have lit candles together with the statue until they reach the church, where a Mass is ongoing. Festivities continue until evening, a large bonfire is lit, and attendees sing songs.
In the town of Candelaria in the province of Quezon, the locals celebrate Candle Festival annually on February 2. It is done to show the people of Candelaria’s devotion to the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, or the Candlemas Virgin.
The town’s celebration for the Candlemas Virgin began in 2005, when then Parish Priest, Msgr. Carlos Pedro A. Herrera, started his devotion to the Nuestra Señora de Candelaria. While the town itself celebrated a festival in honor of San Pedro Bautista every February 5, the Parish Priest decided to honor the Virgin with a Candle Festival held on February 2.
Highlights of the first Candle Festival included a vibrant street dancing competition and the candle float parade from the 25 barangays of Candelaria that goes through the city streets.
An important Mexican tradition is dressing and adoring the Christ-child and having tamales with the family on Candlemas. The customs practiced on Candlemas are closely linked to the Epiphany.
During this day, the tasting of the Rosca de Reyes (king’s cake) will determine who is responsible for organizing La Candelaria. The godparent of the Christ-child is whoever finds the muñeco or the bean-shaped Christ child in the cake. They will have to dress the niño Dios in richly decorated clothes on Candlemas. The Christ-child doll is then brought to church to be blessed.
Whoever draws the bean on Epiphany is also preparing the tamales. The whole family is invited to the meal, promoting family and sharing. These festivities take place in Mexico and Mexican communities around the world.
The Patron Saint of the city of Puno in Peru is the Virgen de Candelaria. Her patronal feast is held every first fortnight of February. It is considered one of Peru’s most prominent cultural festivals. Federación Regional de Folklore y Cultura de Puno is the core performance of the festival, and it consists of over 200 dances and more than 150 dance sets. It is the third largest festival in South America, with preparations starting a year in advance. 40,000 dancers, 5,000 musicians, and 25,000 directors, sponsors, costume designers, and make-up artists bring the festival alive.
Read more heartwarming stories
from this week’s issue of the Parish Bulletin.