Thursday, November 23, 2006


There was an interesting seasonal discussion at Vatican Radio yesterday morning. Workmen have begun to construct the scaffolding for the massive Crib that will soon appear in St. Peter’s Square. This year it is to be sponsored by Bavaria, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the results, which will only be made visible on Christmas Eve. (Mind you, a good number of people will try peeping through the canvas screen surrounding the construction, and tiny peepholes will gradually grow and the security guards will be increasingly attempting to keep tourists and other curious people away from the work in hand.)

The discussion at our daily editorial meeting concerned whether or not we should speak of a Crib, a Crèche or a nativity scene. As one of my English colleagues pointed out, a crèche is somewhere “to dump your kids before continuing to work”. An American colleague pointed out that in the States, ‘crib’ doesn’t have the same meaning as in Britain…so we sort-of settled for a universal ‘Nativity scene’ whilst recognising that we’ll probably use our own terminology anyway.

It seems to me that it was a far more sensible discussion than some of the silly debates over whether or not Christmas should be re-named as the Winter Holidays or Winterval, to use two of the expressions being bandied about. For some crazy reason, there are some politically correct individuals who think that whereas Christians happily exist with others as they celebrate Hanukah, Id, or any of the other non-Christian festivals, Muslims and Jews are going to be offended by Christians celebrating their own feasts. Surely, if they were to use a bit of commonsense, they would see that there is a very pragmatic recognition of religious differences and perhaps a sense of ‘letting them get on with it’.

Last night four of our students at the Beda were recognised as Candidates for the priesthood, and will therefore be ordained Deacons in June next year. At the celebrations, both for the Mass and the ensuing meal, there were people from England, Ireland, America, Canada, India, Bangladesh, Korea, Singapore, Macao, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Iran, Russia, France, Italy and some whom I didn’t meet and whose nationality I couldn’t identify at a distance. Amongst that crowd, as well as the Catholics, there were, as far as I could identify, Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East and Methodist Christians.

Doesn’t that say something about the nature of God? Doesn’t he transcend differences of culture, language, nationality and religion? Aren’t we, at the deepest level, united if we turn towards him?

God bless,
Sr. Janet