In his apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, Pope Benedict’s hope for the Year of Faith is “to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.” In this installment, I want to share how the families in the Diocese of San Jose are celebrating their faith by way of the liturgies, feast days, and rituals of the Advent and Christmas season.
On November 18th I had the pleasure of visiting the annual Family Advent Adventure at St. Justin Parish in Santa Clara. Families celebrated the Sunday Eucharist and gathered in the school gym to prepare for Advent and Christmas. Tables were covered with advent chains and wreaths, prayer door hangers, Ojo de Dios ornaments, Nativity pop-ups, and festive food and drink.
Parents had an opportunity to do what they do best: teaching faith to their children. I was delighted to see the smiles of the families learning about the rich traditions of Advent and Christmas. Pope Benedict wrote in Porta Fidei, “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.” Fitting words for my experience during the Family Advent Adventure.
I invite every family to discover the meaning of Christmas. Let us participate in our parishes’ celebrations during Advent and Christmas. The following Advent liturgies and traditions enrich faith life: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Dec. 8th), The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12), Las Posadas and Simbang Gabi (Dec. 16 -24), and any advent reconciliation service. Parents can prepare their children to celebrate the feast of saints. Children stories about the saints of December can be found at: http://www.loyolapress.com/saints-stories-for-kids.htm?cId=402682. For simple and meaningful family Advent activities, check out: http://www.loyolapress.com/liturgical-year-advent-activities.htm. There you will find details about the Advent calendar, the Jesse Tree, and the blessings of the Advent wreath, Christmas ornaments, and Christmas tree.
I am inspired by Pope Benedict’s words: “What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.” May families sharing faith in this Advent and Christmas season serve as those enlightened in mind and heart, so that the world may bear witness. Have a blessed Advent and Christmas.
By Wendy Scherbart
Wendy Scherbart is the Director for Catechetical Ministry at the Office for Parish Services in the Diocese of San Jose and is responsible for the formation of the leaders in catechetical ministry within the diocesan churches. She has 29 years of experience as a catechetical leader at the diocesan and parish level. She is a certified master catechist and holds an MA in catechetics and an MA in education administration from Santa Clara University..