Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Second Day of Christmas: Latin American reflection and appeal

In honor of the Twelve Days of Christmas, I am posting short daily reminders of the community Christmas appeal for the parish of Cristo Rei (Christ the King) in Cidade de Deus (City of God), on the West side of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, accompanied by quotations from various Latin American Christians.

Today, a special treat: you can see and hear the children of Cidade de Deus sing on video and also read a letter from Fr. Eduardo Costa at OCICBW... (What can I say, it's a MadPriest kind of day. Thanks also to MP for telling people about this Twelve Days of Christmas event, which is part of our broader appeal.)

Our reflection for the day comes from Peru:

I am a single mother with a fifth-grade education and one son. When my son was a teenager, gangs started to appear and the children were gravitating toward them. We could not just sit by and watch the situation worse. Therefore, another friend with [community organizing' experience and I joined the Directiva Central del Pueblo (Town Council).

Our first responsibility was to put on a play, El Artista (The Artist), in which we tried to show how God created the world. In other words, God is the artist, but each one of us is like the custodian of the work of art. We each have our own interpretations. We can improve the work of art -- such as giving it light so it can be seen and putting it in an environment in which it is not harmed -- or we can do damage to it, like scratching it or hiding it away.

We wanted the kids to know that each of them has responsibility for the gifts that God has given them: life, family, home, faith. Even if "the painting" has been damaged, it is still possible to restore it and this is the task that each one of us has.

In the process of putting on the play, I came to realize more deeply the call of God and my need to respond to it. This meant more involvement, which took me away from my son at times, interfered with my work, and cut off my free time. Therefore, I guess you could say that I "suffered" for the good. However, this is the type of suffering that is good and it breaks down whatever causes more suffering.

*******---Modesta Centano Salazar

Ms. Salazar is Secretary of the Town Council of El Agostino, a pueblo joven [or barrio or neighborhood -- like Cidade de Deus in Rio] of Lima, Peru. She spoke these words in a 1998 interview with Tom Powers, S.J. for his book The Call of God: Women Doing Theology in Peru (SUNY Press, 2003).

Missed the first couple of days of this baker's dozen? You can go back and visit those:

Bonus Christmas Eve prayer-poem by Dom Helder Camara here.

First Day of Christmas (Christmas Day) reflections on Incarnation, the immensity of God, and North/South relationships by Silvia Regina de Lima Silva here.

Now pull out those checkbooks, or go visit PayPal here for full information on secure giving modalities. (Includes addresses if you prefer to send checks.)

Yes, we (and more importantly, the people of Cidade de Deus) need justice, not just charity. But the people must survive to make it happen, and the children need to grow and be safe and receive love and care.

The way we are, we are members of each other. All of us. Everything. The difference ain't in who is a member and who is not, but in who knows it and who don't.
*********Wendell Berry
*********The Wild Birds

P.S. You might like this one too -- not by a Latin American, but it's another good Christmas quote.

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