Mystery of Incarnation: The transition from November to December even changes our mood, from one of gloom to joy, thanks to the birth of our Saviour: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isa 9: 6). There may be hundreds of reasons why people could be sad and desolate, but the thought of Christmas cheers our hearts. The star of Bethlehem, the Crib, the little babe lying on the manger and Mother Mary and Saint Joseph rapt in contemplation, the ox and the donkey warming up the whole atmosphere, bring a twinkle in our eyes. “For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed” (Wis 18:14- 15). As humanity is anxious of the things happening around us, the pandemic, the climatic change, and other hazards, the word of consolation is born for us, as bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh (cf. Gen 2:23), to be united with humanity once and for all, never to be separated. Let us welcome Jesus Saviour in our hearts, in our homes and neighbourhood.

Advent Season and Prayer Experience: As Advent is the time for waiting, a time of great expectations, as well as a memory of his first coming in the fragility of our flesh, a suitable prayer experience can enhance our spiritual desires. You are requested to jointly organize some prayer meetings during Advent with the Christians of other denominations to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation. Listening to the spiritual experiences of our brethren of other denominations will do us good to nourish our own spiritual lives as our sharing will help them too.

Sauharda and Bandhutva Christmas: During December, we organize many Christmas gatherings with the brethren of other Christian denominations (Sauharda Christmas) and with the people of other faith traditions (Bandhutva Christmas). The heavenly child unites us all. In fact, it is God’s plan to unite all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth (cf. Eph 1:10). Therefore, kindly join hands with the brethren from other denominations and other faith traditions so that we create a wonderful atmosphere of fraternity. The Son of God, by becoming human, has united himself with every human being (cf. GS 22). He helps us to discover our true worth and dignity. May this Christmas enable us to foster greater collaboration in all walks of life.

A New Time Table for the Synodal Process: The President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, Archbishop Filipe Neri, has informed us that the General Secretariat has given more time for our synodal sharing at the local level and, therefore, the Diocesan Pre-Synodal celebration will be held accordingly, though initially, we had said that it would take place on January 12, 2022. Now, until January 15, 2022, we have time for dissemination of information, preparation to have consultations, choose questions, decide upon groups, select models, and give training to coordinators.

From January 15 - March 2022: Consultation phase, preparing reports. By March 30, all the consultation reports are to be submitted to the diocesan contact Persons. From April to May 15, 2022: All dioceses will prepare a “Working Document” in preparation for the Diocesan Synod and will conduct the Diocesan Synod. By May 31, 2022: The 10-page diocesan summary should reach the Regional Deputy Secretaries (RDs). By June 20, 2022: the RDs will prepare a 10 page “consolidated Report” from Diocesan summaries, which should be sent to the Central Coordinating Team.

Word of Gratitude: The sudden demise of Rev. Fr Valerian Lewis has really shaken us. We lost two young priests within a span of one month. Despite the pain, we have one wonderful lesson to ponder over. The cooperation of our people was tremendous. I thank all those who helped in organizing the funeral service and all the other connected activities at Katipalla Parish. I gratefully acknowledge the services of the Dean, Priests of Mother Teresa Deanery, the Parish Pastoral Council members of the Katipalla Parish and everyone who has given a helping hand.

Wish you all a Blessed Christmas and Joy-filled New Year 2022.

+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore