2 Grand Winners and 10 Consolation Winners!
All 94 entries gave the judges ~ the Capuchin Fraternity ~ a delightful time viewing each Belen. Deliberations, deep discussions heightened the excitement, thus arriving at a tie for 2 Grand Winners!
Rev. Fr. Cesar F. Acuin, OFMCap., Parish Priest of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes announced the winners after the Christmas Eve Mass on December 24, 2020.
Captions for the winning entries are excerpts from the Apostolic Letter Admirabile Signum, On the Meaning and Importance of the Nativity Scene by the Holy Father Pope Francis. Note: The “belen” in Italian is “creche.”
“The enchanting image of the Christmas crèche, so dear to the Christian people, never ceases to arouse amazement and wonder. The depiction of Jesus’ birth is itself a simple and joyful proclamation of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.” Admirabile Signum Par 1
“As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman. We come to realize that so great is his love for us that he became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with him.” Admirabile Signum Par 1
” In a particular way, from the time of its Franciscan origins, the nativity scene has invited us to “feel” and “touch” the poverty that God’s Son took upon himself in the Incarnation. Implicitly, it summons us to follow him along the path of humility, poverty and self-denial that leads from the manger of Bethlehem to the cross. It asks us to meet him and serve him by showing mercy to those of our brothers and sisters in greatest need (cf. Mt 25:31-46).” Admirabile Signum Par 3
“As children, we learn from our parents and grandparents to carry on this joyful tradition, which encapsulates a wealth of popular piety. It is my hope that this custom will never be lost and that, wherever it has fallen into disuse, it can be rediscovered and revived.” Admirabile Signum Par 1
“The origin of the Christmas crèche is found above all in certain details of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, as related in the Gospels. The evangelist Luke says simply that Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (2:7). ” Admirabile Signum Par 2
“Coming into this world, the Son of God was laid in the place where animals feed. Hay became the first bed of the One who would reveal himself as “the bread come down from heaven” ( Jn 6:41).” Admirabile Signum Par 2
“Why does the Christmas crèche arouse such wonder and move us so deeply? First, because it shows God’s tender love: the Creator of the universe lowered himself to take up our littleness. The gift of life, in all its mystery, becomes all the more wondrous as we realize that the Son of Mary is the source and sustenance of all life.” Admirabile Signum Par 3
“Setting up the Christmas crèche in our homes helps us to relive the history of what took place in Bethlehem. Naturally, the Gospels remain our source for understanding and reflecting on that event. At the same time, its portrayal in the crèche helps us to imagine the scene. It touches our hearts and makes us enter into salvation history as contemporaries of an event that is living and real in a broad gamut of historical and cultural contexts.” Admirabile Signmun Par 3
“Fifteen days before Christmas, Francis asked a local man named John to help him realize his desire “to bring to life the memory of that babe born in Bethlehem, to see as much as possible with my own bodily eyes the discomfort of his infant needs, how he lay in a manger, and how, with an ox and an ass standing by, he was laid upon a bed of hay”. Admirabile Signum Par 2
“At this, his faithful friend went immediately to prepare all that the Saint had asked. On 25 December, friars came to Greccio from various parts, together with people from the farmsteads in the area, who brought flowers and torches to light up that holy night….All those present experienced a new and indescribable joy in the presence of the Christmas scene. The priest then solemnly celebrated the Eucharist over the manger, showing the bond between the Incarnation of the Son of God and the Eucharist. At Greccio there were no statues; the nativity scene was enacted and experienced by all who were present.  This is how our tradition began: with everyone gathered in joy around the cave, with no distance between the original event and those sharing in its mystery.” Admirabile Signum Par 2
Here are the Grand Prize Winners!
“With what emotion should we arrange the mountains, streams, sheep and shepherds in the nativity scene! As we do so, we are reminded that, as the prophets had foretold, all creation rejoices in the coming of the Messiah. The angels and the guiding star are a sign that we too are called to set out for the cave and to worship the Lord.” Admirabile Signmun Par 5
“Great imagination and creativity is always shown in employing the most diverse materials to create small masterpieces of beauty.” Admirabile Signum Par 1
Congratulations to Jing and Suzette Custodio of the Family and Life Ministry for such a meaningful and enjoyable contest!