Come, Lord Jesus. Come and visit your people.
We await Your coming. Come, O Lord.
It’s the fourth week of Advent, the final week that we have been waiting for. It’s Christmas Eve in three days and then Christmas, the mixed feelings of sadness, of joy, remembering Christmas past with awe and wonder. A friend asked me once why Christmas sometimes makes her feel sad despite that the season is supposedly for rejoicing and feeling happy. I sometimes feel that too, feeling alone despite the people around you. There is nothing like the Christmas celebration of old, the times when you were younger and the wonder of Christmas filled your spirits with joy. Oh yes, I remember.
I remember the days back in our hometown when my cousins and I would attend Misa de Gallo or the dawn mass which we now call Simbang Gabi. Electricity was only in the town proper so we would bring torches made of empty bottles with kerosene. We had to walk more than a kilometer to reach the Church but what joy were those days. We would sing Christmas carols along the way, shout to high heavens that it was too cold but the highlight of our mornings after the mass would always be buying native sweets like suman and drink salabat (ginger brew) or rice coffee from grandma’s kitchen. It’s a far cry from how we celebrate Christmas nowadays, with all the commercial exploitation attached to it.
For some, Christmas is just another ordinary day. For kids, it’s another opportunity to have new gadgets to play with, more toys to collect and maybe some money to put in their piggy banks. For most of us, there are financial burdens that we have to face, conflict with families or friends, endless problems that make us wonder, where is the joy in celebrating Christmas? It does not really matter how simple the celebration is, as long as we remember and be ready to receive the Christ Child in our lives – the message He brings, that of hope and love.
Josef and I attended the morning mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish and we were surprised to find the image of the miraculous Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary from Manaoag. It’s been ages since I visited the shrine, now a Basilica in Manaoag, Pangasinan.The church is one of the Philippines’ most widely visited Roman Catholic Pilgrimage sites. Pangasinan is my home province. There were vendors selling religious items outside St. Jude Parish. Josef bought a St. Benedict cross and I bought a ring rosary. We have them blessed right after the mass. The cross (a necklace actually) is for me while I gave the ring rosary to him and told him to put it in his bag all the time. I make rosaries too out of hematite beads and Swarovski crystals and I was fascinated with how these vendors make the rosaries from plastic beads and twines. I love to learn that and it was nice talking to them in our native dialect. I got some discounts because of it.
It was a busy weekend and I look forward to seeing Nate again on Christmas Eve. A blessed and joyful Christmas to all of you.