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My first Christmas as a Christian  

A first time at Plovdiv 

Fr. Stanislas BARAKOV  

 

My first Christmas as a Christian


Even if it seems strange, it has been quite some time that I have lived Christmas as a Catholic. It was great luck for me to live Christmas this year, here at Plovdiv. with the Assumptionist Fathers. It was the first Christmas where I felt a really Catholic spirit that went beyond the celebration of the mass, the manger and the Christmas tree.

What is Christmas?

In the Christian world there are many things that I donít understand, but I am here to try to live as a Christian among Christians.

A Japanese cousin accompanied me in this cultural discovery rich in new things.

Even if it is difficult for me to understand Christianity although I have studied its history a bit, it is even more difficult for him and I can understand his difficulties since we have similar ways of thinking.
The birth of a little child destined to be born in the world to save us from our sins as the Bible says. Why does this interest me? That is the first question that I asked myself.
After reading a lot, I discovered that this little child was not born only once in time; He is born each year when we, Christians, celebrate His birth.

He is born in us and in the world to save us from our sins, help us find the road to God, and let us live as God wants us to live.

This little child, born each year, brings with Him the hope of a people suffering because of its sins, the hope of people who live the expectancy of His return because we trust in Him and know that with Him, our path will always feel the company of His love.
My cousin asked me: Why did you leave all that you formerly had done to come here and convert to Christianity?

Honestly, I donít know yet how to answer and I hadnít realized that I had left all to come here and convert, that I had left everything that was central to my former life: my dreams of vanity, those things in life that give nothing that is good and donít let one get a taste of what real life is like.

This little child made me be reborn; He opened a new road for me on which I can advance with hope. It matters little that I left everything for Him, all that I was in my past and that was useless. To lose all for Him is not difficult. With this little child who gives me renewed hope, I want to continue walking on this road and even if I fall again, I know that Heíll be there for me.
Itís difficult to understand all the concepts of the Christian culture especially when you come from a completely different culture and a lifestyle contrary to all that Christianity proposes.

This is what my Japanese cousin told me: ďThe difference between you and me, Eynar, is that I love the Christians, I think that they are good persons, without knowing them very well I donít have anything against them, but for nothing in the world I could be one of themÖ but you, you can be one of them and you want to be one of them.Ē
And thatís true, without being too conscious of it, not only do I want to live as a Christian, but also I want to be a Christian and that is because of a small child who brought hope into the world a Christmas day.
Itís quite strange that for a little child I can leave behind all that I used to be.

Itís strange that a little child who is born can fill me with hope and open new horizons for me. I donít understand too well how a little child can save us, but that doesnít mean that I donít believe in Him.
 Eynar

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A first time at Plovdiv


To enter a church for the first time and take part in the celebration of the Christmas mass is a wonderful experience. I saw how all of the persons involved in the service of the church were very busy preparing the liturgical celebrations, but also very happy at the time of the celebrations with all the faithful.
I am not sure that I was able to help with something, but I prefer to think that I helped a bit.


Besides this, the fact that I met in the Plovdiv community not only Bulgarians but also people coming from other parts of Europe and even from the whole world was a rich experience for me.
Unfortunately, I donít speak French or any other Latin language, but the priests tried to communicate with me in German or English.


Mr. Uedaís help (Eynar), who translated into English to help me communicate with the others, was very appreciated; this took place especially during the meals on 25 December. On that day, the feast of Christmas, I received gifts from the Fathers and Sisters. This was something unexpected on my part and it touched me quite deeply. These very Bulgarian souvenirs now decorate my room in Germany where I live.

The visit to the Bachkovo monastery with Father Daniel was a nice experience. Even though I had already come to Bulgaria before, this was the first time that I discovered a Bulgarian monastery. During the visit of this monastery, I understood much better the long history of this country and its rich culture.

I only stayed a week. But this was a special time that I wonít forget and I hope I wonít lose contact with the Plovdiv community.

Thanks go out to all the members of the community.

Cordially yours.

Daisuke Ito

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Fr. Stanislas BARAKOV

 

Thanks to a January that was exceptionally mild, braving all of his infirmities that come with 83 years, Fr. Stanislav surprised us with a fraternal visit last Saturday (20 January). He came alone from Sofia where he lives since fifteen years. Our last meeting dated to the beginning of November on the occasion of the blessing given for all the deceased in the Catholic cemetery.

Fr. Stanislav comes from a Latin Catholic village near Plovdiv and some of his relatives are buried in the cemetery of Plovdiv. That is why he likes to come for the feast of All Souls.
Plovdiv is also dear to him because of St. Augustine College where he studied until he obtained his baccalaureate. His visit permitted him to have the joy of going to St. Cyril and Methodius Seminary where he discovered and prepared for the Assumptionist religious life.
 

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