Christmas, beyond being a Christian holiday that celebrates the event of the arrival of the Child Jesus, can be the opportunity to reflect and discover what is behind the true meaning of this global celebration that is not alien to Mexico.
In the Mexican geography in this 2022, convulsed by the social, economic and political conflicts that reveal the degree of decomposition that permeates the community strata, private organizations and government institutions, Christmas seems gradually lose that value of spirituality.
As consecrated to God through his episcopal ministry, Monsignor Ramon Castro Castrobishop of the Diocese of Cuernavaca and general secretary of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, in an interview with Megamedia Groupanswer questions about What overshadows Christmas in Mexico current.
In addition, it warns of the unstoppable violence and insecurity to an extreme degree and the political dimension of this Christmas event in the Fourth Transformation (4T), which in the opinion of the former auxiliary bishop of Yucatan and former head of Campeche, violates respect for human rights, free expression and religious manifestations.
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How is Christmas lived in today’s Mexican society?
“As we well know, the reality of Mexican society is not uniform. We are a multicultural and multiethnic country. Christmas is not celebrated in the same way in the Jalisco Highlands than in Mexico City or Oaxaca. Aware of this diversity, we can try to find a common denominator of our beloved Mexico.
“There are traditions that have managed to be safeguarded despite the changes in this postmodern era. It is still deeply rooted in the parishes, especially rural La Bella tradition of the inns in the novena that precedes Christmas. Piñatas appear at multiple family and social gatherings.
“There is still the beautiful tradition of attending the ‘rooster’s mass’ in all the churches, the important family reunion in Christmas Eve, December 24, or during the 25th, at Christmas. In a majority, with such naturalness, it is said in this solemnity: ‘Merry Christmas’.
“Within the possibilities of each family there is always some small gift brought by the Child God or Santa Claus. The presence of births helps in this sense, there are still many homes where this tradition is kept alive.
“Pedagogically it is very timely, especially for children who find it clearer to discover birth characteristics of the Child Jesus”.
How does Christmas influence social behavior?
“There is undoubtedly a positive influence of Christmas on social behavior. In a majority, I can discover that it is a time longed for, expected, sought after.
“To think that secularism invades this realm and there are signs of wanting to disappear the deep meaning of this party. However, most people are drawn and encouraged to build a world of greater peace and harmony.
“This is indisputably demonstrated by the exchange of Christmas greetings, some alluding directly to the birth of Christ and others simply to these ‘end of the year festivities’, as well as multiplying the good intentions.
“Other notable influence is the commercial activity. Christmas promotions and offers begin in October. Advertising does not stop fulfilling its mission to make spending and move the tired economy “.
What actions demonstrate the true meaning of Christmas?
“Christians who have a good spiritual formation are the ones who mainly demonstrate actions that reveal the true meaning of christmas.
“For example: live coherently the advent and promote growth in ‘vigilance’ and ‘waiting’ with which hope is fortified. They know that all of life is an advent and this period comes to fortify that attitude. The idea matures Jesus came, comes and will come.
“The prayer that helps strengthen hope also increases, they prepare to live Christmas Eve with faith, not so much in external things as in a true encounter with the Child Jesus, through the Eucharist, prayer at dinner, a greater effort to forgive or live in peace. With the lullaby of the Child. Of family dynamics that fortify the fraternity and the mystery of that holy night.
“And they are aware that ‘Jesus is the gift’ and a space must be left in the heart so that the Child has a place to be born. They remember that His life is the manger where Jesus is born“.
What is the dark side of Christmas in Mexico today?
“One of many dark faces in Mexico today is that the deepest and truest meaning of Christmas is being lost. The most beautiful and truly Christian traditions are giving way to pagan ones.
“Another one that has harmed us for many years is that of Santa Claus, who, although he has a connection with Bishop San Nicolás, priority is not given to that character and his gifts, which thus disconnects the hearts of children with the Jesus birth.
“A face that lately darkens Christmas is violence and insecurity, quite a number of people have been affected by tragedies these days. These facts make it necessary to change customs, for example, the ‘rooster’ masses must be brought forward to avoid complicated situations.
“For a long time it has also existed in so many homes the presence of alcohol in the celebrations. A good number of brothers believe that they need this incentive to be happy. That alcohol, or unfortunately also the drugs, have turned what should be a fraternity party into violent or problematic encounters.
“The signs that exist from government institutions for make freedom of religion and religious manifestations disappear. I think we all know what happened in Yucatan and the initiative to prevent the manifestation of Christian expressions such as the placement of births.
Does Christmas have a political dimension in the government of the 4T?
“I could not affirm that in the entire government of the 4T, but in some of its leaders there are elements to determine a negative dimension or positive.
“There is a negative political dimension that echoing the ‘developed’ countries they want to make the religious signs of our people disappear, even taking to the Supreme Court of Justice what a local judge, with the evident intention of manipulating, has demanded to prevent governments from spending on public religious signs so as not to hurt the ‘sensitivity’ of those who do not believe.
“In contrast, there is still a positive political dimension that knows that by fostering these values and traditions it can promote peace and harmony, and regardless of his personal convictions, he sees it as a good political strategy that creates lasting fruits,” he concludes.
Who is Monsignor Ramón Castro Castro?
Monsignor Ramón Castro Castro was born in Teocuitatlán de Corona, Jalisco, on January 27, 1956. He received priestly orders on May 13, 1982, in Tijuana, Baja California Norte, and began his ministry in the parish of San José Obrero, in Ensenada.
He has a degree in Philosophy from the Universidad del Valle de Atemajac and Doctor in Spiritual Theology from the Teresianum in Rome. In addition, he graduated in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of Rome.
In 1985 he entered the Gregorian Ecclesiastical Academy, where He studied International Law and Diploma in Languages.
On July 1, 1989 joined the diplomatic service of the Holy See and served as the Vatican’s representative in the apostolic nunciatures of Zambia and Malawi (1989-1992) and Angola (1992-1994), in Africa. In Ukraine (1994-1996), Venezuela (1996-1999) and Paraguay (1999-2001).
Pope John Paul II named him auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Yucatán on April 2, 2004, and received episcopal ordination on June 3 of that same year. Later, the Holy Father Benedict XVI appointed him Bishop of Campeche on April 8, 2006.
The May 15, 2013 he was named XII Bishop of Cuernavaca (Morelos) by Pope Francis, and on November 9, 2021, he was elected Secretary General of the Conference of the Mexican Bishops.