I personally thought that the ending of 2019 would have seen an improvement in the state of our society re the reduction in the crime situation, the politics, etc., but it seemed as though the perpetrators in every sphere were doing their utmost to prove my desires just wishful thinking.
Viewing the news reports on television, I asked myself if they were trying to accomplish some kind of record as we prepared to enter the New Year. Shootings, road accidents, robberies….phew!
This was one of the times I thanked Almighty God for the gift of Mother Church, who, in her wisdom, provides us with the opportunities to live in hope as our faith is bolstered by our participation in the spiritual activities she provides for us as believers.
The Advent Novena was one such activity. Along with actually participating in the Novena in my parish, the concept of Advent as the season we wait in joyful hope to celebrate the coming of the Messiah at Christmas, keeping up of the “pillars” of the season was the inspiration which assisted in making it more meaningful.
Praying the rosary and the Divine Office Prayers during the Novena was also an uplifting exercise for those who braved the coldness of the early mornings (we began at 5 a.m.) to attend.
In addition, I found the TTT channel’s Now programme very informative and enlightening, as host Lisa Wickham featured different priests who explained to viewers the meaning of the season with its symbols, etc.
From feedback received from friends who viewed the sessions, I found out that it was a case of new learning for those who did not know, and reinforcement for those who did.
The Christmas Eve Mass was another exercise which served to keep the reason of the season as the most important focus during the celebration. Beginning with the Holy Hour before the 9 p.m. Holy Mass, the congregation participated in prayer, reflection and devotion as we prepared to celebrate the Eucharist.
I could not help but reminisce about the years gone by when the midnight hour would be proclaimed during the Mass and we would ring the bells and joyfully proclaim in song ‘Joy to the World’ or other appropriate carols. Then it was truly “midnight Mass”.
Again, in her wisdom, Mother Church seeks to make the little ones, the future of the Church, aware of the part they are asked to play in acknowledging the importance of Jesus in their lives.
The Feast of the Holy Innocents is always the perfect opportunity to do so. After these celebrations, some of the children from the Sunday School, the First Communion class and the Altar Servers group, carried Christmas cheer to the sick and the shut-ins in the senior citizens home and in their domestic homes. The residents were all overjoyed to join in the singing of the Christmas carols and receiving the gifts the children brought them.
Participating in the Holy Masses celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family, Old Year’s night and the Solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God on January 1, brought that sense of the presence of Emmanuel, God with us, reigniting our faith and hope in the ability of the One, True and Living God to deliver our country and heal our land.
While the New Year was ushered in with killings and road accidents and other negatives, our hope remains in the Lord. We acknowledge too that we have our part to play in bringing about the change we wish to see. May the New Year be for us a time of renewal.