This past weekend marks the 4th Sunday of Advent (that last purple candle on the Advent wreath) and as Christmas approaches I have been reflecting on mostly the 3rd Sunday of Advent... aka Gaudete Sunday... aka the Pink Candle.
Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent, when in the midst of the anticipation of the return of our Lord... we take time to rejoice. And that's not just because Gaudete means "to rejoice" in Latin. We rejoice because the mystery of the unknown also brings joy and hope for our salvation.
To aide along side our preparation for the birth and return of our Lord, Abby and I have just completed all 9 crazy 5am morning masses of Simbang Gabi. Simbang Gabi is a tradition in the Philippines in which you attend a novena of 9 masses. Typically you go into Simbang Gabi with prayer intentions so that you can pray all 9 days for that same intention. For some... it's to find a life partner; others it's for some health issue; for us it's the same thing we've been praying for the past 3 years of marriage... to start a family. But for some reason I felt like my prayer wasn't complete. It was until the 2nd day of Simbang Gabi... Gaudete Sunday...that my prayer changed.
You see... Simbang Gabi is in like 95% Tagalog (the primary dialect in the Philippines) and being a 2nd generation American born Filipino, I barely understand Tagalog. So during the mass (especially during the homily) I find myself turning to my friends that were lucky to be born in the Philippines and have the gift to understand Tagalog for translations. So as I go through the motions and try my best to actively participate without understanding most of what was being said and take in the mass... I realized something during the offertory.
I may not ever understand why Abby and I were blessed with the issues we are dealing with because we are not meant to. The only thing we need to understand is that we are not alone. We have our family and friends, we have the countless other couples coping with the same issue, and most of all we have our God. During the offertory we are offering up our burdens and joys to God so that we might be worthy to receive the Eucharist... the source and summit of our Faith. I need to remember that this journey is something I need to offer up to God. Even though we will probably not understand its purpose until we stand in front of St. Peter at the gates.
So while mainstream culture has tried to take Christmas away from its true meaning... this Simbang Gabi has allowed me to take it back internally. Which is why it is fitting that this year's Simbang Gabi started during the weekend of Gaudete Sunday… we can rejoice in the unknowns that lay in front of us and know that when we come around the corner we will be face to face with the only thing that matters... Jesus Christ.
May you and your families have a blessed Christmas and that you see Christ reflection through each other. Abby and I pray especially for the young parents out there... may you be a living and walking example to those around you, especially your kids. And to those that will spend this Christmas alone know that Christ is there knocking at your heart... you only need to let Him in.