In our church we have a beautiful series of stain glass windows depicting the life of the Holy Family. One of the most poignant is titled "The Flight into Egypt." It shows the Virgin, sidesaddle on a donkey, clutching the Infant in her arms. The donkey, with its head turned back, seems reluctant to go into an unknown land, but Joseph firmly directs the animal.
This scene has a double poignancy. First, Holy Family Parish includes many refugees - principally from Vietnam, but also countries like Eritrea, Cuba, El Salvador and Argentina. They have found a new life here, but long for their native lands. Second, and much more heartbreaking, are the current refugees, those who have not yet found a place of safety. We have seen their images on television - especially since September 11 - and our hearts ache for them, especially the ones singled out by our Holy Father: "children, women, elderly, who are often condemned to a cruel death." In a few weeks we will be taking up a collection for them, particularly Afghan refugees, so that we can combine practical almsgiving with our prayers.
The Holy Father has asked us to make January 1 a day of prayer for peace. This past November, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted "to designate January 1, 2002, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, as a National Day of Prayer for Peace. This action was taken in the light of the terrorist attacks of September 11th and the ongoing war in Afghanistan."
As part of that effort, I invite you to join in praying the Rosary for Peace. The goal is that on New Year's Day in the United States, twenty-five million rosaries will be said for world peace. Here in Holy Family we will do our part toward that goal. At midnite on New Year's Eve, right after our 11 p.m. bilingual Mass, we will pray the rosary - all fifteen decades - for our nation and our world. There will be two other opportunities on New Years Day: 10 a.m., before our 11 a.m. Mass and at 5 p.m., before the 6 p.m. Filipino Mass.
As we contemplate the Flight into Egypt, we pray for refugees in our world - that they will find a place of protection and that soon they will be able to return to their homes. All of us are interconnected in a great global struggle. Victory will not come by economic power or military might. The greatest weapon we have - in a sense, the only one - is prayer. The caption of the Rosary for Peace is "Fight Terrorism with Your Bare Hands." It shows a pair of hands, folded in prayer, wrapped with the rosary. Please join us in that prayer for peace.
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