1. Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BCE, after its destruction by the Greek-Syrians, starts tomorrow, Dec. 8. Jesus observed this same celebration (cf. Jn. 10.22) as all Jews did yearly in Jerusalem. During Hanukkah, Christians are often invited into Jewish homes to share in this week-long feast, thanking God for the gift of freedom of worship – long ago and today. Information on Catholic-Jewish relations can be found at http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/dialogue-with-others/jewish/.
2. One of the warmest feasts days on the church calendar, Our Lady of Guadalupe, is on December 12. Celebrations of the feast extend throughout the entire American continent. In addition to Mass on the feast, many U.S. Latino communities pray novenas and rosaries and act out the story “Las Apariciones” (apparitions) of the Blessed Mother to the Indian Juan Diego. The Pro-Life movement has adopted her too as patron saint of the unborn.
“We will argue against the creation of a permanent underclass in this country, where certain parts of our population do not have the rights that others do. Our nation has been down this road before, with disastrous results,” said Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta in a Dec. 3 speech. Many persons, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have fought and died so that all persons can enjoy the full rights of citizenship, he added. “We cannot forsake this principle for the purpose of political expediency.”The argument that undocumented persons should be given legal status, but not an opportunity to earn citizenship won’t fly with the U.S. bishops.
4. U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a pastoral effort to address critical life, marriage and religious liberty concerns. The five-part strategy or call to prayer is set to begin after Christmas. The focus is to invite Catholics to pray for a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty. Components include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes, daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom.
5. God loves you.