Friday, 20 November 2020 08:29

Pastoral Instruction: A Deeper Advent and Christmas



My dear People of God in the Archdiocese of Manila,

Christmas is already in the air. Even with Covid-19 and the series of typhoons that visited us, we see signs of Christmas around us. The air is cooler and the light longer. Christmas decors are being set up in the streets and in the stores.

Now and then we hear Christmas songs. However, within us we sigh, how will Christmas be this year? It will surely not be the same as the previous years. Let us not just take the Advent and Christmas seasons as they come. Let us make them happen, yes in a different but also in a more meaningful way. Perhaps the limitations that the pandemic impose on us can make us celebrate these seasons in a truer way.

In years past, we have been accustomed to external and consumeristic ways of celebrating these seasons. The malls and the stores had dictated our Christmas. Nowadays, despite of the gradual lifting of restrictions, many of us still hesitate to go to the malls and we also have become more conscious on how to spend our money. But we continue to celebrate, though in more subdued ways. Let us bring Advent and Christmas to our families with prayers, family religious services and joy. Prayers are available that can help us pray together as a family.

Let each family make an advent wreath that can decorate our tables or our family altars. With prayers, songs and Bible readings, the family can gather together during the Sundays of Advent to light a candle in expectant hope for the Lord’s coming. There will be many online advent recollections. Let us take time to participate in them. With the gradual easing of lockdowns, the sacrament of confession is more readily available in our parishes. Let us go out of our way to go to confession in one of the advent days. The Simbang Gabi Masses continue.

Those who cannot yet come out to join in our Churches can participate online. Let us receive communion in those days. The Son of God physically became man to be with us. Let us also physically receive him in holy communion, if not everyday during the Simbang Gabi, at least in one of these days. Communion can be requested from the parish.

There are many decorations that remind us of Christmas. These can be done in our homes and prayers will be provided by the Liturgical Commission when these can be blessed by the head of the family. Thus we can set up our parols, our Christmas tree, and our Belen in our homes, with appropriate Christmas lights. We need not buy them. The effort of doing them together will give special value to them. Let each family have a figure of the Baby Jesus displayed in a prominent place. This will be the center of attention during the Christmas season.

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day let the family be gathered together and make the day memorable by singing together Christmas carols and have some family games. We discourage parishes and parish organizations to have Christmas parties as a precaution against the spread of the virus. But Christmas parties can be done in the homes among family members. There we can sing together, share stories, and have some fun as a family. Family members can give each other handmade Christmas gifts and hand drawn Christmas cards.

Let not Covid-19 lock down our Christmas joy and family togetherness. God has come down to be with us. We accept him together as a family in our homes. Let us be creative this year in celebrating God’s presence among us. We do not allow Covid-19 to deprive us of Christmas joy. God is with us!

 

 

Yours sincerely in Christ,

 

Bishop Broderick Pabillo
Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila
November 20, 2020

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