By Rosa Gouveia and Karina Gomez
As Catholics, our response is, “Yes!” However, our frail humanity, discouraged spirits and pandemic influenced thoughts bring us to question. Things continuously change without the answers we want to have; there is so much pain and doubt as we journey through the reality of COVID-19, which has many different influences and consequences.
However, despite and through it all, our faithful God remains ever present! Our loving God shares our life through Christ and in His own physical death accompanies us into the depth of our mortality. Yet, Jesus also gives us the gift of HOPE through the Resurrection, which assures us of new life with our loving God! In Him, with Him and through Him, we celebrate the Paschal Mystery which makes all the difference in the world for us as Catholics. We know we are not alone; our God is ever with us and provides for us.
The first 24 days of December fall during the liturgical season known as of Advent and are represented by the liturgical color purple — a symbol of the sorrow of a contrite heart. The remaining days mark the beginning of the Christmas season. The liturgical color changes to white or gold — a symbol of joy.
There are 15 liturgical feasts celebrated during the month of December, which provide examples of those who trusted in God’s promise of salvation, despite their human limitations. We also celebrate Mary as an example of one who is chosen and remains a faithful instrument of God’s presence. She is the original Bearer of Hope, who lives knowing and trusting God’s love is all we need. These feasts remind us of those serve as witnesses to the saving love of God and the Spirit’s abiding presence.
Advent focuses on remembering Christ’s first coming at Bethlehem which then directs our mind to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas - however, we are so busy with the material preparations we often lose sight of the real reason for our activity. We are called to celebrate Christ living within, among and all around us. Are we looking for Jesus, do we remain focused on Christ?
Let us truly celebrate Christmas as an intentional time to recognize the presence of God in our lives. Let us name and joyfully proclaim where we find God in our lives, like the child who eagerly anticipates receiving a gift. For we, too, are children of God, who are reminded of the best gift ever given to us – Christ Himself, who comes to dwell with us!
Although the pandemic adds real stress and fear, let us not lose sight of Christ who dwells within and among us. Let us be human reminders of God who is present to us, through one another. Let us look for signs of hope, as we strive to be a sign of hope and accompany one another safely, united in prayer to an ever-faithful God who will see us through the pandemic and beyond!
Rosa Gouveia is the Director of the Diocesan Office of Catechetical Ministry and Karina Gomez is the West End and Riverside Vicariate Coordinator in the Office of Catechetical Ministry.