‘Unto Us Is Born A Star of Hope at Christmas’ the Christmas Eve Mass celebrated at St Aloysius Institutions
- With Theme ‘Unto Us Is Born A Star of Hope at Christmas’ Christmas Eve Mass celebrated at St Aloysius Institutions, Mangaluru.
Mangaluru: Christmas Eve is the evening or entire day before Christmas Day, the festival commemorating the birth of Jesus. Christmas Day is observed around the world, and Christmas Eve is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day. Together, both days are considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom. Since tradition holds that Jesus was born at night (based in Luke 2:6-8), Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of his birth. The idea of Jesus being born at night is reflected in the fact that Christmas Eve is referred to as Heilige Nacht (Holy Night) in German, Nochebuena (the Good Night) in Spanish and similarly in other expressions of Christmas spirituality, such as the song “Silent Night, Holy Night”.
Roman Catholics and high church Anglicans traditionally celebrate Midnight Mass, which begins either at or sometime before midnight on Christmas Eve. This 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 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 in the Open-air St Aloysius High School ground on Thursday, 24th December at 7.30 pm. From 7 pm till 7,30 pm the Choir sang beautiful Christmas carols, like Mary’s Boy Child, The First Noel, Away In A Manger, Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard, Joy To The World, and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
Attending the Christmas Eve Mass at St Aloysius brought back memories of yester years, when I was in the Choir right from my high school to college days, and also after I completed my education at St Aloysius, till I moved to the USA in the year 1990. And last night I was overwhelmed to be back at my Alma Mater to attend the Christmas Eve Mass after nearly three decades, where I was happy to meet bunch of my college mates and few other Mangalorean Catholics whom I had associated with- And not forget to mention a bevy of Jesuit priests who were my mentors, especially former Rectors of St Aloysius Institutions Fr Leo D’souza SJ and Fr Denzil Lobo SJ.
The Mass was con-celebrated by Fr Melwin Pinto SJ -the Rector of St Aloysius Institutions, along Fr Denzil Lobo SJ-former Rector and Former Director of AMIT, Beeri, Mangaluru; Fr Pradeep Sequeira SJ-former, Finance Officer,SAC; Fr Denzil Lobo SJ-the Secretary & Treasurer of Mangalore Jesuit Educational Society, and joined by Fr Felix SJ- In-Charge of St Aloysius Chapel Committee, Fr Leo D’souza SJ- former Rector, Fr Vincent Pinto SJ- Finance Officer at SAC, Fr Melwyn Lobo SJ- Principal, St Aloysius Gonzaga School, Fr Gerald Furtado SJ- Headmaster, St Aloysius High School; Fr Cyril D’mello-Director, St Aloysius ITI; among others.
Immediately preceding the penitential rite, the ministers process to the crèche, the main celebrant Fr Melwin Pinto Sj says a little prayer and blesses it,and kisses Baby Jesus, and then he proceeds to the altar, and Mass continues. Fr Melwin Pinto SJ in his Homily narrated about 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, “God is our help and support. Our hearts are made for God. In Bible, chapter John 3:16 it 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”.
“We need to receive God into our hearts. A gift should be a surprise, and a gift is never withdrawn. Pope Francis has said that God always surprises people with the way he works, and because of this, believers should be open to the Lord’s way of thinking and acting, rather than expecting him to conform to their aspirations. 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. On this day, we should also remember Fr Stan Swamy SJ, who has been put in jail for no fault of his. He only fought for the justice of the tribal community, who were being looted by rich landlords. It’s sad to note that Fr Stan who loved his country so much, is facing trial for nothing. But he is a fighter, and will fight until justice is served. I feel proud of Fr Stan, and let us all pray for his good health, since he is 83 years old”.
Thanking everyone, Rector Fr Melwin Pinto SJ said, “I wish you the Joy and Peace of Christmas and the New Year 2021 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 good news of great joy: today a Savior is born for us, Christ the Lord. Alleluia, alleluia. Fr Sanjay Daniel SJ also thanked the well-wishers and donors who had contributed nearly Rs one lakh plus for the needy families. The proceedings were compered by Manoj Lewis. And for those having sweet tooth for the night, Cake pieces were distributed at the end of the mass.