– Përshëndetja e Visar Zhitit në një kishë katolike amerikane –
Në Kishën Katolike Amerikane “St. Isidore” në Bloomindale, në Shtetin Illinois, shkrimtari Visar Zhiti përshëndetit të pranishmit në takimin e organizuar në prag të Krishtlindjes, duke treguar se si festohet në Shqipëri, në dy kohë, dikur, nën diktaturën komuniste, kur feja ishte e ndaluar dhe sot, të lirë…
Visar Zhiti kujtoi porosinë e Papa Françeskut, që u dha shqiptarëve gjatë vizitën së tij apostolike në Tiranë, në vitin 2014, që të mos harronin plagët si populli vuajtuar e me një kishë martire dhe folenë si bij të shqiponjës emblematike…
Përshëndetja e Visar Zhitit u duartrokit për thjeshtësinë dhe për informacionin, aq sa shkurt, po aq dhe dhimbshëm dhe me domethënie…
Po e botojmë fjalën në gjuhën angleze siç dhe u mbajt sot.
HOW CHRISTMAS IS CELEBRATED IN MY HOMELAND, ALBANIA.
By Visar Zhiti
Christmas in my small country, in Albania, is now a great feast. All people Rejoice, not only Christians, but also those of other faiths…
In my country, Catholics, Orthodox and even Muslims, who may be the majority of the population, live in complete harmony.
This is wonderful, not only the religious tolerance, but also living together in brotherhood, – said Pope Francis, when he visited
Albania, 10 years ago…
But it has not always been like this. My country was once proclaimed the first atheist country in the world . During 1967 the communist regime demolished churches and mosques. They were turned into sports palaces or warehouses for tools or to store military weapons, while the religious and priests were put in prisons or killed…
* * *
My name is Visar. The meaning of my name in my language is “spiritual Treasure”, but we remained without access to that treasure during the dictatorship regime.
When I was 27 years old I was sentenced to ten years in prison for writing poetry that criticized the communist regime…
In prison I met many of the imprisoned priests. One of them is now our Albanian Cardinal, H. Ernest Troshani Simoni. He was imprisoned because he had celebrated mass for the repose of the soul of US President Kennedy…
Cardinal Simoni is a living martyr to us. He is also our dear friend .
When Pope Francis traveled to Albania in September of 2014, the testimony of dom Ernest Troshani and other religious leaders who lived under the oppression of the communist regime, left him speechless.
He was so moved that Pope Francis two years later beatified 37 priests and one nun.
They had not survived torture and died as victims of hatred for the faith.
As these Albanian martyrs were being tortured to death or as they were being executed, they prayed to God and asked Him to pardon their killers. The nun who had been a teacher, died wrapped in a sack simply because she reminded her students of the presence of Christ. These martyrs died shouting “Long live Christ
the King! Long live Albania! We forgive those who kill us.”
Even though the practice of religion had been banned, religious institutions destroyed, and the sacred books burned, some Albanian families continued to practice their faith in secret – even though this put their lives at risk.
Only after the fall of the communist regime were people allowed to once again celebrate religious feasts.
How do we celebrate Christmas nowadays?
The memory of the birth of the baby Jesus, savior of the world, is also very much present in the homes where our families live as it is in our churches. Family traditions related to Advent serve to create the joyous atmosphere of celebration that is part and parcel of these holy days for us.
The season of Advent is a penitential time. But Christmas for us begins on the feast of The Immaculate Conception (December 8) when we decorate the tree in their homes. We keep that Christmas tree up until January 6th, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, when our Christmas season ends.
The living nativity is a new tradition especially in North Albania.
On the evening of December 24 families go to mass together. Usually the main course for Christmas Eve dinner is fish. Many different kinds of desserts are also served.
Midnight mass is preferred. After returning home from church kids unwrap their presents.
But the most beautiful part of Christmas is in the hearts of Albanian Catholics.
I want to close with the order that Pope Francis gave to the
Albanians when he visited our country: “Do not forget your wounds and your nest!”
He spoke of Wounds because we have suffered as a nation in the ordeal of history.
The nest refers to an eagle’s nest. Albanians have the eagle as their symbol and believe that they are the children of eagles.
Don’t forget the nest, the Pope told us, which means the family, its Warmth. He gave us this order with the blessings of Christ…
And I wish you a Merry Christmas!