The Subanens are an indigenous people whose ancestral habitat is the highlands of northwest Mindanao in the Philippines. When the Columban Fathers arrived in Mindanao in 1938 we took little notice of the Subanens because we were so engaged in a full schedule of parish pastoral activities which included dozens of far flung barrio communities.
A couple of years ago, before starting the Christmas Mass, in a chapel in the southern area of the archdiocese of Santiago, Chile, a family arrived with their children. One of the children brought a teddy bear and when I was greeting them, at the entrance of the church, I decided to greet his teddy bear.
Jesus, our Lord, save me from my sins.
Come, protect me from all dangers and lead me to salvation.
Come! Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
teach me to walk in the paths of knowledge!
Come! Leader of ancient Israel,
giver of the Law of Moses on Sinai:
rescue me with Your might power!
Lord, give me the courage to disarm my heart
from the feelings of anger, resentment and revenge
that foster so much pain and division in my life.
Instill within me a spirit of gratitude and joy that
I may become Your instruments of peace and reconciliation
wherever and whenever conflicts arise.
Brother of Simon Peter,
you heard John the Baptist say:
"Behold the Lamb of God,"
and you chose to follow Jesus.
Leaving your nets,
you became a successful fisher of souls.
Lover of the Crucified Christ,
you too were crucified like him.
Teach us to live and suffer for Him
and to win many souls for Christ.
As a little child,
I loved you like a mother.
Now that I am old,
my love for you has grown.
Receive me in heaven
as one of the blessed,
and I will proclaim
that I have obtained
such a great prize
through your patronage.
Your gifts of love are countless
and Your goodness infinite.
On Thanksgiving Day we come before You
with gratitude for Your kindness:
open our hearts to concern for our fellow men and women,
so that we may share Your gifts in loving service.