Last Advent was vastly different in many ways and the biggest difference was not having weekly Sunday masses physically in church. No doubt, we were following the virtual Masses but I’m sure we can all agree it just isn’t the same as attending Mass in the church.
As Advent approached, I wondered of ways to make the season more special and spiritual since I couldn’t go to church and participate in the usual activities that would usually go on either. In prayer one day, I felt that I needed something different to embrace and journey through the Advent season. Soon after, I received a forwarded message about the SJC Youths Advent Hangout sessions.
I attended the first virtual hangout with my sister. Almost immediately, the hangout started out with laughter and jokes which made us all feel much more comfortable and relaxed. We pondered on the readings leading up to Christmas Day and Msgr. James Gnanapiragasam enlightened us with his reflections and his many intriguing words of wisdom. We had all kinds of hilarious ice-breaking games and checked in with each other weekly. We also allocated time to ponder in silence and spend time with the Lord with no distractions.
Never would I have realized how much I missed human connection. Being in this pandemic for so long, it made me forget what it felt like to make new friends and to be in a community again. To pray together, to hear that there are other people who are also feeling the way you feel (the good and the bad), and to just laugh at silly things was indeed the breath of fresh air I didn’t know I needed. Every Sunday I looked forward to these hangouts and this group of people who made everyone feel so welcomed. It was a great way to anticipate Christmas Day as every week we were on the journey towards the Nativity. I cannot think of a better way to have spent my Advent than by scheduling time to disconnect from the usual and to reconnect with some new-found friends with Jesus at the center.
Just like how we schedule everything else that is important in life, I realized how important it can be to schedule faith-filled activities too. We are all going through our own rollercoasters each week and sometimes it can be overwhelming. As we begin this New Year, try to schedule time in a week to nourish your soul with some good people and God. The joy it could bring you is not to be missed out on!
By Katrina Celliah, Sacred Heart Church