Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

May this Christmas be a reason to continue making more memories

By BISHOP LUIS RAFAEL ZARAMA | Published December 18, 2013

Advent is a time that brings warm memories to our hearts and allows us to be grateful to God, while preparing for Christmas. This feeling of gratitude towards God is a powerful source that seeks to stretch and improve our relationship with him and lets us rejoice in the kindness of his love.

Part of this season’s Latino/Hispanic family and cultural tradition is to celebrate the Novenas/Posadas, gathering together with family and friends around the Nativity Scene during the nine days prior to Christmas. This special time unites the family in prayer and joy, and I would like to share some of the memories I have of it with you.

One time, in one of these Novenas, all the grandchildren gathered together in my grandfather’s house to reenact the birth of Jesus, all of us had a role in it. My grandfather was deaf. I was lucky enough to be Joseph’s donkey, and believe me it wasn’t an easy task because I had to carry Mary, one of my cousins, on my back. What I recall most from that day, however, is that I never saw my grandfather laugh the way he did then.

Another memory I have is that my mother used to give us a piece of chocolate each night after the Novena, which she hung up on the Christmas tree. She always knew exactly how many pieces there were. One year, during a Novena, she realized the chocolates were disappearing and blamed us for it. She didn’t believe us, even after we told her it had not been us. One afternoon, she realized we were telling the truth, when she saw her father standing right next to the Christmas tree with two chocolates in his mouth. My mom couldn’t contain her surprise and my grandfather his laughter for being caught with his hand in the cookie jar!

Another time, the only gift my brothers and I got for Christmas was a piece of coal very well wrapped. We thought it was part of a bigger gift to come, something that probably was going to need coal in order to work. But that wasn’t the case, that piece of coal was the only reward we got for our bad behavior that year.

On Christmas Eve, in the midst of Christmas carols, laughter, and prayers we all prepared for the anticipated “Misa de Gallo” (Mid Night Mass) at which time Advent ends and we celebrate Christmas.

There are more memories of course, but I’m running out of space to share them all. These moments, where we gather together to share and pray as one family, allow me to rediscover Jesus’ love. This season’s joy makes us strive to be better so that we receive love instead of coal. It is through these memories that God works and will continue to work by bringing us joy and hope with the arrival of his Son.

May this Christmas be a reason to continue making more memories of Jesus’ love, as Mary did, with our families, friends and parishes; because it is by seeing Jesus’ face in our brothers and sisters that we open our hearts to make a space for God to dwell in them and celebrate Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of blessings.