Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas in Arequipa, Peru

The Huachi Huachi Children and Their Christmas Custom

In the country of  Peru, in the City of Arequipa, high in the Andes Mountains, boys and girls form groups called "Huachi, Huachi." They visit homes every evening for the entire Christmas Season. The children knock on the door or ring the doorbell. The family invites them in to visit the "Nacimiento," the Christmas Scene which every family, no matter how poor, prepares for Christmas. The children want to welcome Jesus to the home and to their neighborhood.

The boys and girls are excited, and happy, and they come to entertain the Christ Child.
They stand around the Christmas Scene of  The Birth of  Jesus, the (Nacimiento.)
Each child  sings a Christmas Song.
Then, he or she selects a partner and does a little dance.
Next, the child  recites a poem.
And last, he or she offers a prayer.

After all the children have performed, the family shares whatever they have.
This may be candy, sweet bread, cookies, hot chocolate, tea or bread or hot soup. Even the poorest family will make sacrifices to share what they have, because they want all the children to learn that

Jesus is the Son of God and he was born for us in Bethlehem

An angel came to announce his birth to Mary, a young girl. The Angel Gabriel told her she was to be the Mother of God.
Today we call her,
The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

When Jesus, her baby, grew up, He was sent to tell us of God's Love and the Peace that comes to the whole world and to every heart when we love one another.  The Virgin Mary is his Mother and St. Joseph, his foster father.

When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were traveling from Nazareth to Bethlehem. When they arrived there was no room for them at the inn where most people stayed. Jesus was born in a place where animals lived, but angels announced his birth to
shepherds who were watching their sheep in nearby hills. The angels sang
 "Glory to God and Peace on Earth to people of Good Will!"

The shepherds listened to the angels and came to Bethlehem. They came to adore the newborn baby, and later, Three Wise Men from far away arrived to bring him special gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh because they had seen a special star and followed it.

In Arequipa, families want their children to follow Jesus and live as he taught us, loving and serving one another. I hope you will learn about Him, too. Jesus is always with us. Welcome Jesus to your home and heart and have a Blessed Christmas!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Netsuke from Maryknoll Sisters Heritage Exhibit

Before Pockets, Purses or Wallets

Every day, Mr Wong, grumbled and grumbled. He lived a long time ago in China when men had to carry an inkpot and a stamp wherever they went.

Mr Wong complained to Number One wife. “I don’t like carrying things, and sometimes I drop the inkpot and my hands get all dirty.”

.Number One wife said, “Oh, honorable husband, without it, you cannot buy anything.”

Mr. Wong said, “I know. Without it, I can’t sign a document, buy rice, or that piece of silk you want, but I don’t like carrying things.”

Number One wife wanted a new silk gown, so she quickly made a silk bag for Mr Wong. “Here you are,” she said. “You can carry your inkpot and stamp in this bag”.

Mr. Wong set out to do business in his city. When he met his artist friend, he complained again, “I don’t like carrying things.”

The artist said, “Oh, I can fix that. Just wait here. I have something for you.”

The artist returned with a tiny package. “Here you are, Mr. Wong. This will solve your problem.”

Mr. Wong made a face and groaned. He said, “What is this?” Something else to carry?”

The artist said, “Oh, no! Open the package and you will see.”

Mr. Wong tore off the wrapping. He found a tiny carving with a tiny hole and a black silk cord.”

He said. “What good is this trinket?”

The artist laughed. He threaded the black cord through the tiny hole in the carving. He tied the black cord to the string on Mr. Wong’s silk purse. Then he tucked the tiny carving into the sash around Mr.Wong’s robe.

“There you are,” said the artist. Now you don’t have to carry your inkpot and stamp.

Mr. Wong thanked the artist. He smiled as he walked off to make his purchases.

He showed the tiny carving to all his friends.

Some of Mr Wong’s Japanese friends bought the tiny carvings to take home.

When artists in Japan saw the tiny carvings, they named them netsukes (pronounced nets-uhkees).

.In Japan, times were hard, and artists had little work. When no one asked them to do big monuments, they worked on little things.

Little things were important to these artists. An artist took as much care doing a little figure as he did with a big monument. Very soon artists were carving all sorts of netsukes.

They carved Uzume, the laughing goddess, Hotei, the god who loved children, and Shoki, the slayer of demons, as well as many other figures. Everyone used netsukes to anchor items at their waist.

Next time you clip something on your waist, put something in your pocket, or carry a purse, remember Mr. Wong and the artists who made netsukes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mollie Wanted Everyone to Be Happy

 Mollie Wanted Everyone To Be Happy

A hundred years ago, on a winter afternoon, seven year–old Mollie Rogers curled up on the sofa in the big living room of her home in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Her whole name was Mary Josephine Rogers.

Mollie  turned the pages of a magazine and looked at each photo. One photo showed the story of a girl her own age. As Mollie read the story, big tears rolled down her face.

Her big brother, Abe, looked up from his homework. “Mollie, what’s the matter?

Her voice trembling, Mollie said, “It’s this little girl in Africa. She was killed because she believed in Jesus,”

“Oh,” Abe said, “She’s one of those martyrs. Don’t cry. Martyrs go straight to heaven.”

Abe went on with his homework, but Mollie never forgot that story. She wanted everybody to be happy.

Mollie lived in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
Every Sunday, she  went to church with her big family of eight brothers and sisters. She learned more and more about Jesus.

Once a year, a missionary spoke in her church about terrible things that happened to children in far away countries. In some places, little babies were abandoned, especially if they were girls. They were thrown away, left on the roadside, dumped out like garbage. Missionaries found the babies and cared for them. They fed them and clothed them, but often it was too late. Many babies died in their arms. Molly wanted to do something about those babies. Molly wanted to make others happy.

She helped her brothers and sisters. She played the piano for them. She could sing, and dance, too. She liked to write letters and stories. She was a happy person and wanted others to be happy, too.

When Mollie finished high school, her parents sent her to Smith College. Mollie came from a Roman Catholic family, but most of her classmates and her teachers were Protestants. In college, Mollie got along with everyone. She liked her classmates and her teachers. She made many friends. She studied hard and the years passed quickly.

She was almost ready to graduate when something happened. She had always joined in with her classmates for every activity, dances, competitions, parties. Then, suddenly, she felt left out.

It happened on the day that many of her classmates received their “mission” assignments. The young women were smiling and congratulating each other. They were so happy. They had offered to go to China to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mollie listened as they laughed and talked. Mollie congratulated them! She was happy for them, but soon she slipped away to the Catholic Church just across the street from the college.

As she knelt in the quiet church, she thought about how good these young women were and how they were going to tell people in China about Jesus. As she prayed, she asked herself what she was doing to spread her faith.

After graduation, Mollie got a job at the college. She taught Zoology. One of her mentors said, “Miss Rogers. All the Protestant girls have Mission Study Clubs. Why don’t you form a Mission Study Club for Catholic Girls?”

Mollie liked the idea, but the only thing she knew about Catholic Missions was what she heard in a once-a-year sermon, when a missionary visited her parish church. Mollie remembered that the missionary talked about an office somewhere in Boston.

As soon as she had a day off from teaching, Mollie inquired and learned that a Rev. James A. Walsh was in charge of that office. She lost no time. Within a few days, she went into Boston to find this priest. He would know something about mission, since he sent the missionaries to her parish.

 Mollie climbed the stairs to an  office on the top floor of a rickety old building. She learned that Father Walsh called his office the Rookery. A rookery is a place where birds roost high in a building. When Mollie learned this, she knew Father Walsh had a sense of humor.

Mollie greeted Father Walsh and explained her need for material for a Mission Club she intended to start for Catholic students at Smith College.

Father Walsh welcomed her. He gave her some information and suggestions. Mollie found her life’s work that day.

Within a few years, Mollie became

Mother Mary Joseph Rogers.

She  founded the Maryknoll Sisters, a group of women who this very day are spread about the world. They are women from 17 countries. They serve the poor and needy in 28 nations. They want to make God’s Love visible to the whole world.

Do you sometimes think about how you could make God’s Love visible?

Learn more about Maryknoll Sisters!