(Kamëz, Albania) All over the world houses are being decorated with cribs, motivated even more by Pope Francis who invited by his letter Admirabile signum to take care of this beautiful Catholic tradition.
Albanian Catholics also continue this tradition in their homes, with the memory of the earthquakes suffered in this Balkan nation last November 26.
In our Redemptorist parish of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori in Kamëz we have followed the example of the parish of St. Dominic in Durrës, one of the cities most affected by the earthquake. There, in Durrës, the parish community has built the Bethlehem among the ruins of the areas affected by the strong shocks of the earthquake, awaiting reconstruction. They wanted to reflect on the difficult experiences lived in the light of the new life that Christ comes to give us in the mystery of his birth.
In Kamëz, at the entrance to the Parish, one can see the Holy Family amidst the rubble of brick, iron, wood, and dust, where the shepherds and the Magi go to adore the Redeemer. Advent has been a difficult path, accompanying those affected by the natural catastrophe towards a new hope. “The crib, the Pope points out, is in fact like a living Gospel that emerges from the pages of Sacred Scripture. The contemplation of the Christmas scene invites us to set out spiritually, attracted by the humility of the One who became the man to meet every man. And we discover that He loves us to the point of uniting us so that we too can unite ourselves to Him. The Portal of Bethlehem in Albania today is no stranger to the sorrows and hopes of its inhabitants, especially those who still spend their nights in a tent in front of their destroyed house or those who are welcomed in hotels and families, and who remind us that the Holy Family could not enjoy the welcome in an inn.
This Christmas will not only be marked by destruction and death, but also by the tremendous solidarity that has been awakened around us. Many people have provided food, clothing, and shelter since the first moment of the disaster. Many organizations and volunteers have also been involved. We take this opportunity to thank the entire Redemptorist Family for their prayers and support in this difficult situation, and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
Fr. Laureano Del Otero Sevillano C.Ss.R.