From Cardinal Seán's blog

Each year, the Hispanic community of the Cathedral Parish holds Las Posadas, which is a novena that reenacts Mary and Joseph seeking a place at the inn in Bethlehem. It is usually done going from home to home, something like caroling, but on Friday night, they held it at the cathedral.

They have parishioners portraying Mary and Joseph, whom they refer to as Los Peregrinos (The Pilgrims), and they sing a number of traditional songs.

The lyrics explain the storyline. It's a dialogue between Mary and Joseph looking for lodging and the people in the house telling them that there is no room and to go away. But, finally, when they say it is Mary and Joseph looking for a place for the Christ child to be born, they open the door and invite them in. As I always say, Las Posadas changes the Christmas story: taking it from one of rejection to one of hospitality and an attitude of opening our hearts to receive Christ and the Holy Family. So, it's a very beautiful way to prepare for Christmas.

Traditional Christmas Eve visits

On Saturday morning, I made my traditional Christmas Eve visits, beginning with Catholic Charities' Teen Center at St. Peter's, in the Bowdoin-Geneva section of Dorchester.

There, they hold an annual toy and food distribution. This was begun by late Boston Mayor Tom Menino many years ago, and his family has been continuing that tradition.

I was very happy to greet Angela Menino and speak with the volunteers.

In addition to many members of the Menino family, we were also joined by officials from the Boston Police Department, our staff from Catholic Charities, and many of the local Catholic clergy, including Father Doc Conway, Father Jack Ahern, Father John Currie, and the Capuchin friars who are working with the Cape Verdean community.

It's always a joy to take part in this event, which is so important for the people of the neighborhood. It brings a lot of joy and Christmas spirit to families, particularly this year, in light of the challenges brought about by unemployment, inflation, and the other economic challenges that people are facing.

Visit to Pine Street Inn

After that, I went to visit Pine Street Inn.

When I arrived, Executive Director Lyndia Downie and I had a chance to address many members of the local media.

I spoke to them about the importance of their being at Pine Street Inn to help the public focus on the issue of homelessness in our society. It was such a cold day that it just brought home, in a very pointed way, the suffering of people who are unhoused. Of course, this is a multifaceted problem, and any kind of real solution will have to address challenges such as increasing the availability of mental health care, addiction services, and affordable housing.

It is said that as many as 40 percent of the homeless population are working, but with low-wage jobs, they find it impossible to secure decent housing. As a result, many people are living in their cars, with friends and relatives, or even on the streets. And, while it is good for everyone to want to do something to help shelters such as Pine Street Inn at Christmas, we have to remember that this is a problem that continues throughout the year.