Dear Religious Family,
We will begin our story of the Advent and Christmas seasons lived in our beloved town, Stykkishólmur, Iceland, with the retreat for children. With the retreat, we began this powerful time of conversion and grace.
One soul in the state of grace is worth more than all the goods of the world, and it is for this reason that Stykkishólmur changed from a simple town in the Northwest of Iceland into one of the most powerful, beautiful and noble kingdoms, because of the grace which the reception of the sacraments brings. The children from the three towns in which we teach catechism, arrived one Saturday morning, and we began the retreat with “Good mornings” about the joy of Catholic Christian life.
After that, we played games and shared lunch altogether. Later, a little talk was presented about Jesus Christ, true God and true man. Later, while we were praying the Rosary, the children had the opportunity to go to confession.
Following confessions, the Holy Mass was celebrated, and some of the children helped as alter servers. All of the children received the Eucharist. They were all very happy, especially for the reception of the sacraments. Many of these children hadn´t approached the sacrament of confession for some years, and the fruits were significant, marked by the joy they manifested afterwards.
The Christmas Play
With the children from the oratory, we put on a Christmas Play. There were various rehearsals, in order that the children would learn their lines properly and that each one would play his part well.
The parents arrived and all the children were in their costumes: the angels with their little wings, the shepherd girls with the flowers they were to present to the Child as a gift, the Kings with their gifts, and we even had a baby to be Child Jesus. Her parents were very proud that their daughter played this role.
The play began with the grandmother telling the story of Christmas to her granddaughters and the characters began to appear: the Annunciation of the Angel to Mary, Saint Joseph, and then they went to Bethlehem of Judea, and didn´t find lodging. Meanwhile, the angles announced to the shepherds and all the characters went prepared, bringing their gifts to adore the newborn Babe, God who became man, that man may be the child of God. The play ended with a song, and the parents were very grateful for their children´s participation, and the effort they made for the play to turn out nicely.
After the Christmas Play, we had hot chocolate together, and we took advantage to chat and sing a few Christmas carols with all the families.
To end the Oratory for this part of the year, we had a festival, celebrating Christmas with the children. They were all arriving, a few with their mothers, who helped us with some of the games.
Between music, songs, and games, the afternoon passed very quickly. Every child received his or her gifts. We set the tables to eat a snack together and afterwards, they departed for their homes. Don Bosco teaches us that with the oratory, the great work that can be done with the youth, is procuring that they are good and always happy. This is the testimony of charity, and it is charity, as Don Orione says, which will save the world.
“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited his people and set them free”.
Mass was held on the 24th of December, at 12 o´clock midnight. Father Edward Booth, Dominican priest, 84 years old, celebrated the Holy Mass and not only Catholics, but also Lutherans came. A few members of the Lutheran choir and the organist, Laslo Petö, assisted our choir. The whole Mass was very beautiful. In her, by her and through her we confessed, “Oh Christ!, you were crucified, died and buried, and with everything, you keep living with us. You are not only man; you are the living Son of God.” (Tehamer Thot). After the Holy Mass, we had a traditional hot chocolate with cake and Christmas carols in Icelandic, English, Polish and Spanish. On December 26th, Mass was celebrated in the other towns by Father Jacob, a French missionary priest in Iceland for 28 years. He came from Reykjavík to celebrate the Christmas Mass in various towns in our zone. We give thanks to God for the gift that He gives us in these lands, for the peace with the Protestants. May this be a herald of the unity of Christians under one Shepherd, and truly, all together, we can confess Him who opened for us the gates to Paradise. Jesus Christ was born, let us rejoice!
Sisters from the Community St. Barbara, Stykkishólmur, Iceland
María Porta Coeli
María de la Sabiduría de la Cruz
M. Mãe de Deus