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A Christmas message from Cardinal Tong

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Christmas is approaching. As we contemplate the beautiful scene of the Holy Family, immersed in peace and serenity, with the Infant Jesus in a manger, we cannot but recall the many events that, in sharp contrast, have taken place in Hong Kong, our home, over the past several years.

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The Christmas lights of the hill

Hiking uphill through the hot tropical afternoon to the Aeta village of Baliwit, San Marcelino, carrying our loaded backpacks was a challenge in itself. But the happy thought of bringing some Christmas cheer into the lives of the extremely poor indigenous people kept us going.

Our mission was to bring Christmas lights into their lives. For us, we discovered it to be inspiring and encouraging.








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A fulfilling Christmas joy

What is it that makes Christmas so beautiful, so cheerful and such a happy time, especially for children? It has to be the gift-giving, the time when children can look forward to receiving signs of love and care, as well as share a bit.

Children in some well-off families receive so many gifts through the year that getting more has no special impact on them. But there are the children in poor families to whom a gift at Christmas is a joy they never forget, because they have so little in this world.








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Ordeal of Mass at Christmas

HONG KONG (UCAN): For both the official and unofficial Church communities in China, Christmas Eve Masses proved to be an ordeal.

In Beijing, it often meant competing for admission and queuing for mandatory security checks for hours at the four downtown churches, popularly known as the North, South, East and West Churches.

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Jesus is source of hope for world

VATICAN (SE): “The birth of Christ is a reminder for Christians to take a moment and reflect on the hope of salvation given by God to the world,” Pope Francis said in the run up to Christmas at his weekly general audience on December 21.

He said that those who are humble and poor, like the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus, come to realise that the promise of hope is fulfilled by trusting in God and not from personal securities or especially material goods.

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Pope on preparing for Christmas

VATICAN (SE): As the Church set about preparing to celebrate Christmas at the beginning of Advent, Pope Francis emphasised in his homily at the morning Mass in his home in Domus Sanctae Marthae (St. Martha’s House) on November 27 that living Christmas is not a theory or philosophy, but sheer hard work.

He pointed out that it is not always about the things we do, but often what we refrain from doing, especially in irritating times.

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A scandal of nothing amidst plenty

MANILA (UCAN): The poor amidst plenty syndrome of The Philippines is a national disgrace for a country which prides itself in being Catholic.

The problem is especially amplified during Christmas, a time of year marked with feasting and professing faith in the God of the poor.

The desperate poverty incidence among Filipinos now sits at more than 25 per cent of the population, despite the promise of the government to bring it down to 18 per cent by this year.

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A hoverboard Christmas song turns sour

MANILA (Agencies): What happens when a priest gets a bit carried away with enthusiasm for the Christmas spirit and sings his Christmas greetings to his congregation as he wanders the church at the end of Mass?

Well, if you are Father Albert San José and you are at the parish of Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Biñan, Quezon City, you get to apologise and take an enforced holiday for a few weeks.

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Cardinal Tong celebrates Christmas at Stanley Prison

 

HONG KONG (SE): For Catholics in Stanley Prison, the Christmas celebration  received a boost from John Cardinal Tong Hon when he said Mass on Christmas Day to share the joy of the occasion with those whose festive season is often devoid of family and religious celebration.

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China’s Christmas runs hot in the cold

HONG KONG (SE): While the biting chill of a Chinese winter did nothing to cool the warmth of the Christmas spirit, the police and security forces were out in force to hose down enthusiasm among the country’s thousands of unregistered House, Catholic and Protestant Churches.

Radio Free Asia reported that in Beijing many unregistered Churches were told to keep things low key and not to invite outsiders to join them.

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