Here in Macau, every year on December 26, all the Religious men are called to gather together to jointly celebrate Christmas. We rejoice and celebrate because Jesus is born on earth to set us free; Jesus is born in our hearts and He is with us, Emmanuel.

This year the gathering was at Saint Joseph the Worker Church, run by the Comboni Fathers. His Excellency Stephen Lee, Bishop of Macau, joined us, too, for the prayer and for the agape.

At 6:30 pm the celebration started with the Evening Prayer presided by Father Fausto Gomez, OP. After the evening prayer, we all gathered in the parish hall to have a fraternal agape and to sing Christmas carols. “Joy to the world” was sung by all before Bishop Stephen gave us some inspiring message and blessed the food.

In his message, related to religious life, the bishop said: “In religious life, you should never be alone because you need help, especially in carrying out the ministry that is entrusted to you which is the preaching the gospel”. He added: “If you are alone, it means something is wrong; it is not wrong with other people, but it is wrong with you!” Further, he said: “In carrying out your ministry, you need to love other people and to be loved by them; you need to help other people and be helped by them… Meaning to say, you should be humble enough to accept the love and help from other people: that is the real humility.” Then he closed his message with these words: “Religious superiors, you should teach the young religious who are in formation; you should be the examples to them and they should not be scandalized by you.”

After this short and beautiful message, he blessed the food for us to share. During dinner, we enjoyed our chatting because most of us come from different countries. We shared our experiences with each other and at the same time, we learned from one another. It is really a great time that we have every year!

The last part was the singing of Christmas carols in different languages, by all those present. It was amazing, for instance, listening to the popular Christmas song “Silent Night” in Japanese, Korean, German, Spanish, Cantonese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Italian, Tetun and Burmese. This was really wonderful! As the tune was the same, each one could sing it along in his own language, or simply joint the others silently with his own lyrics. Although we did not know the languages, however, following the tune and the rhythm of this song with others, made us sense it in our own language, which reminded us of how international and universal we are as Catholic missionaries. That was beautiful indeed!

The last song was “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”, sung by the group of Dominican Brothers, dedicated to the Bishop and to those present. This grand finale was followed by a closing prayer and the blessing by the Bishop. After a group picture taking, we dispersed, each one to his own home, carrying with us joy and good memories. We really had a great time!

Merry Christmas to all!

Br. Agostinho Mendonça, OP