Christmas is here, isn’t it?

first_imgDear Editor,I would like to shed some light on the pre-Christmas, actual Christmas and post-Christmas Season and how significant it is to know the difference. Christmas is not here yet. We begin the pre-Christmas season, which is called Advent and then the actual Christmas when we commemorate the birth of Jesus and there is the Christmas Season that follows Christmas until the Baptism of the Lord.Christmas is one of the most important days of the Church year, second only to Easter itself. It is the feast of the incarnation, the feast of God becoming flesh (the Latin “in carne” means “enfleshment”). It is a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us. Because of this belief, God is not only Transcendent, but also wholly Immanent, Emmanuel (God-with-us). While remaining Transcendent (meaning we must rise above our present condition to reach Him), He is at the same time Immanent (meaning He is with us as we rise toward Him).This weekend, the Christians begin the Season of Advent. Advent means waiting or coming and we wait for the coming of someone we love. During this season, we focus on waiting for the Lord, waiting for the coming of Jesus. In Guyana, we begin the novena on December 15 to 23. Christmas Novena has its long history and tradition, which could be traced back to 1861 when Fr Benedict Schembri celebrated Christmas midnight Mass at the newly-constructed church on Main Street. This church was basically helped by the Portuguese from Madeira who spoke mostly Portuguese. Under the “padroado” (The privilege of patronage extended by the Pope to the King of Portugal) system, initially Sacred Heart operated as “the Portuguese Church” being the centre of pastoral activities for the Portuguese community throughout Guiana. Only in 1932 was this status revised and Sacred Heart constituted as a normal parish.The indefatigable Schembri established guilds and charitable associations, organised religious and cultural events, and generally strengthened the bonds of fellowship and faith among the Portuguese. Of particular note was the introduction of the Christmas Novena, with a 3:00 am mass on each of the nine mornings before Christmas.This practice rapidly became a popular and enduring feature of Catholic churches throughout Guiana. Even the “Bemdita Sajaes”, a hymn to Our Lady with words in the Madeiran dialect of Portuguese, became a much-loved feature of many an African and East Indian family Christmas.Cleaning and decoration for Christmas play an imperative part. In all this, the Christmas tree takes precedence. The use of the Christmas tree is relatively modern. Its origins are found in the medieval mystery plays that depicted the tree of paradise and the Christmas light or candle that symbolised Christ, the Light of the world. According to custom, the Christmas tree is set up just before Christmas and may remain in place until the Solemnity of Epiphany. The lights of the tree are illuminated after the prayer of blessing.Faithfully,Rev Fr Jerri Dias SJlast_img