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By Hilda Cruz

 Attending the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis was an unforgettable, spiritual and reaffirming experience.

 The Canonization Mass reminded me of how grateful I should be to all those who take on the mission of leaving their native land to share the Gospel.

By Father Earl Henley, M.S.C.

 The people were hungry and they were looking forward to his arrival.

 As a missionary priest, I can relate to him. He is a missionary and as a missionary you walk with the people.

By Deacon Raymond Moon

 I was impressed by the diversity of people who were there. People from over 130 countries, it was impossible to calculate the number of languages that were being spoken. Yet during the entire week I felt that we were absolutely connected as family, as we were and are, one family in Christ. 

By Dan and Lydia Kray

 We were so looking forward to gathering with over a million Catholics to get more excited and learn more about our faith. We found that and much more!

 We were most moved by the main message of “ Love is our Mission.” We experienced it in the people there, even while waiting six hours in line with thousands of people. We all were at peace just waiting and singing hymns to our Lord while in line all that time.

By Bishop Rutilio del Riego

 If nothing else happens this visit of the Holy Father will have had value because you are talking about capturing hope. That is what happened.

 But I think for us as Catholics, it is a calling to move in this direction, knowing that it is the work of the Spirit.

By Bill Lemann

 I had the honor of observing our Holy Father in Washington D.C. largely in the company of our elected officials. In an era of divisiveness and political deadlock, I was struck by the reverence and rapt attention our representatives, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, gave to the message of the Pontiff.

By the Arreola family

 Before even attending the World Meeting of Families Congress, our family felt the love and support from our fellow San Bernardino Diocese families because they helped us win the Family Fully Alive Video Contest.  The sense of community we felt helped prepared us for the spiritual pilgrimage we encountered together as a family of seven in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

By Maria G. Covarrubias

 “While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son” (Luke 2:6). The incarnation of the Son of God is central to Christmas. Incarnation means the truth that the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became man - one of us. 

 The incarnation is the eternal manifestation of God’s love, which is brought to fruition in Jesus’ death on the Cross. The New Testament reveals Jesus’ incarnate story. 

 We live in a modern world that bombards us with mixed messages. Many are confusing, they lack meaning or are materialistic. The time of Christmas fills us with messages that have meaning, full of mystery and magnificent memories. The main message of Christmas proclaims the center of our faith: Emmanuel, God with us! 

 Because of the message of the incarnation- God becoming one of us- we face messages that comfort and challenge us: indestructible hope, profound joy and peace, generous compassion, gratitude, patience, and service. 

 All these messages say a lot about who our God is, who we are, from whom we come and where we are going. We are chosen for discipleship. By our baptism, we are called to live as Jesus’ disciples. As disciples, we must be intentional in nurturing our faith and deepening our relationship with Jesus. There are so many opportunities! We can strengthen our faith by praying, receiving and giving forgiveness, taking part in the Eucharist at Mass, learning about our faith, being generous, treating others fairly and with justice, being good stewards of everything we have received, doing a ministry in our parish, living and sharing our faith traditions in our families and our parish community. 

 As we continue to celebrate the Christmas season, let the messages of faith, hope and charity touch our hearts and transform them. God is with us always, in our moments of crisis, despair, sacrifice, joy, abundance and need. God intervened by breaking into our human life – he is calling us to an abundant and meaningful life. 

 What is your response to God? What more can you do this coming year to deepen your relationship with Jesus -Emmanuel - God with us? 

 Maria G. Covarrubias is the Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry for the Diocese of San Bernardino.

By Sr. Carmel Crimmins, R.S.M.

 The word Advent brings to mind the familiar and comforting words we associate with this season – get ready, hope, promise, the Lord is near, a light to all people, O Come Emmanuel – are the words we love during the season preparing us for Christmas.