‘Overwhelmed on Attending My FIRST Christmas Eve Celebration’- Top Cop at Rosario Cathedral

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‘Overwhelmed on Attending My FIRST Christmas Eve Celebration’- Top Cop/Mangaluru City Police Commissioner Anupam Agarwal at Rosario Cathedral post Christmas Eve Mass/Celebration on 24 December 2023

Mangaluru: The Christmas Eve ceremony, which is held in churches throughout the world, celebrates the birth of Christ, which is believed to have occurred at night. In recent years some churches have scheduled their “Midnight” Mass as early as between 7 – 7:30 pm. And locally here in the “Rome of the East”, which Mangaluru is known as, a Christmas Eve Mass was celebrated in fervour and gaiety, attended by a sea of faithful gathered at the historic Rosario Cathedral, Mangaluru on Sunday, 24th December 2023. Traditionally, Catholics mark Christmas Eve by attending Mass at midnight. But over the years, the starting time at the Vatican has crept earlier, reflecting the health or stamina of popes and then the pandemic.

The most joyous feast in Christianity is when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. With Christ’s birth, it is the start of humanity’s liberation from the reign of Satan who had total dominion over men through sin and death. The Mass was con-celebrated by Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha-the Bishop of Mangalore Diocese joined by Fr Alfred Pinto-the Parish Priest of Rosario Cathedral, Fr Vinod assistant parish Priest and Fr Santhosh D’souza- the Resident Priest at the cathedral. Immediately preceding the penitential rite, the ministers proceeded to the crèche, the main celebrant Bishop Rev Dr Saldanha said a little prayer blessed it, and kissed Baby Jesus, and then he proceeded to the altar, and Mass continued.

The Bishop in his Homily narrated the meaning of Christmas and requested the faithful to give generously to the needy since Christmas is a feast of sharing and giving. He further said, “In the Bible, chapter John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. Therefore, whoever believes in God will have eternal life. The term has its roots in Genesis 1:27, wherein “God created man in his image. . .”This scripture passage does not mean that God is in human form, but rather, that humans are in the image of God in their moral, spiritual, and intellectual nature.

Bishop further said, “We have to prepare ourselves to accept Jesus. Our lives should be simple, and we need to live with simplicity. When we celebrate Christmas, we should learn to love our neighbours. We all should share our Christmas joy with the poor and the marginalized by caring for them. That is how we celebrate real Christmas in our lives. We need to recognize Jesus, we need to develop an awareness to look for Jesus. We need to accept the power of love and learn to be vulnerable and weaker. We need to receive God into our hearts. Today the Lord invites us to assume an attitude of humble listening and docile waiting because the grace of God often presents itself to us in surprising ways, which don’t line up with our expectations. We also need to give gifts to those who hate us or are our enemies”.

Bishop urged people to “Not let this Christmas pass without doing something good”. In his message, he highlighted the theme of Christmas of Giving and Sharing and requested the faithful to help those in need, while celebrating Christmas. In God, His idea of Himself is so powerful and perfect that it becomes another Person and thus God the Father begets God the Son from all eternity. Thanking everyone, Fr Alfred Pinto said, “I wish you the Joy and Peace of Christmas and the New Year 2024 filled with God’s choicest Blessings. Let us stand in the light of Christ – where Love overcomes hatred; Truth overcomes deceit and Hope overcomes despair”. Alleluia, alleluia. Today is the good news of great joy: today a Savior is born for us, Christ the Lord. Alleluia, alleluia.

Following the mass, spot games and Housie Housie games were held where the faithful won cash on tickets they were given FREE! A surprise guest appearance made by Mangaluru Police Commissioner Anupam Agarwal post Christmas Eve mass made the crowd happy that an important person in the society whose duty is to protect and serve the citizens was truly appreciated. In his short speech, the Police Commissioner said, “Even though I have heard the good news of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations but till now never graced any of such occasions, tonight I am overwhelmed and excited to be here, attending my FIRST Christmas Eve celebration, thereby making it a memorable one. I feel proud to say that Christians have contributed to society enormously in the field of education and community service. In life, we need to enjoy happiness and joy, and similarly, we need to spread joy and happiness among others, especially the poor. And that is the true meaning of Christmas sharing and giving, which you all need to embrace and practice. Wish you a joyous and fun-filled Christmas”.

The Police Commissioner escorted by the Bishop Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha, Rosario Cathedral parish priest Alfred Pinto was shown the interior of the Our Lady of Rosary of Mangalore, the first Catholic church of Mangalore built by the Portuguese in 1568. The Top Cop also complimented the parish priest for the beautifully done Crib.

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