Thanks be to God, we have entered once again into the Season of Advent, the period of expectation and hope for the birth of Jesus. During these uneasy times of the COVID pandemic, words of expectation and hope are often used by many in speaking of their desire for a return to normal times. While we cannot currently celebrate together in church, the work of the Friars continues, though it be perhaps in different ways, but always with a sense of hope and service.
This past year has seen its fair share of challenges and difficulties for everyone: be it a feeling of isolation; loss of income; or having to deal with the illness or loss of loved ones. Similarly, we Friars have also felt the loss of your presence for the celebration of the Eucharist, the sharing of the sacraments, and all the times spent together in prayer. The scope of work and costs associated with the much-needed repairs to the church’s roof have been an additional concern. It would not be surprising then, if we all found it difficult this year to discover the joy of the Christmas season.
And yet, it is precisely during times like the ones we are facing where the importance and liberating joy of Christmas can be most uplifting.
At Christmas, we recognize that God, our Creator, entered into this world as a child, as one of us. God became man and dwelt among us to share in our joys but also in our sufferings; to reveal to us most intimately, that we are never alone, that He is always by our side no matter what we are going through. This mystery should grant us the courage to face life’s difficulties, for if God became one of us, it means that He too suffers with us, and is with us, even during the most difficult of times.
The Mystery of the Incarnation invites us to hold on to hope, to fix our eyes towards the Nativity to contemplate the humble birth of our Saviour, the Baby Jesus. The Nativity is God’s way of searching for us; it is He Himself who has entered into our world so that we can find him. Let us find ourselves at God’s side by allowing Him to enter into our lives. Allowing Jesus to enter our lives signifies that we are emptying our hearts of grudges, of envy, of jealousy and of hate and leaving our hearts free for Him to enter into.
Advent and Christmas will undoubtedly be different this year but different does not mean that they are not without hope and reasons for joy. Let us all make of this unique Christmas an opportunity to bring light into the lives of others. If we cannot give one another physical gifts, let us exchange with each other the spiritual gifts of forgiveness, love, and peace. If we cannot travel to be with faraway family and friends, let us reach out to those who are alone in another way by calling or by means of social media.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued spiritual and material support to our parish, especially during this most challenging time of pandemic. Please find enclosed with this letter an offertory envelope, for your convenience. Unfortunately, we are unable to include a Christmas Mass schedule due to the current city-wide lockdown, but ask that you keep in touch by visiting our parish website or Facebook page for updates in the event that, God-willing, we are able to celebrate the holiday together. I also invite you to provide your email to our office as a means for us to keep in touch with you regarding any new information.
Let us invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us through this particular moment in time and guide us towards understanding the mystery of Christ’s birth enabling us to become instruments of peace, brotherhood and hope among us.
Jesus, our Saviour, was born into the world for this reason: to call everyone to love and unity.
A Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year to all filled with peace and good!