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Christ be our light

by J’Lani De Four

I have been volunteering at the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) for the past four months and we were invited by Fr Matthew Ragbir, the Spiritual Director of the Commission, to come to St Francis of Assisi RC Church, Sangre Grande for day one of their Aurora Masses on Saturday,  December 17, 2022.
This invitation coincided with our initiative to be witnesses and having never been to an Aurora Mass, I did not know what to expect. What even is Aurora? Why must I wake up so early? There must be something here worth discovering. I have heard stories of its mystical splendour and was most anxious to experience it myself.
To indicate the beginning of any Mass, a bell is rung. However, this liturgy was slightly different, yet insightful. A people in darkness, anticipating the start of Mass, waited eagerly for 5.30 a.m.
Facing the altar, music started, a chant of “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”, giving the impression that it was a mere interlude until they were ready to begin… or so I thought.
The chant turned out to be the beginning of the procession itself and I only caught on by the time the altar servers and the celebrants made it up to my pew. And that’s when I stood, startled, but in awe!
There’s something noteworthy there. Isn’t it ironic that a song that invites one to prepare a way is being played, yet we were still unprepared and unassuming? We weren’t ready. I wasn’t ready. Doesn’t the sun do the same? Are we always able to anticipate the exact time that the sun will rise? Similarly, “we await in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ”.
So much of what we believe and the faith we possess can be found within the very things around us.
Whether we are ready or not, God still acts, God still intervenes. Simple way of looking at it? Whether we are ready to awake from our slumber or not, the sun will still rise, day after day.
The word ‘aurora’ means ‘dawn’ and the whole purpose of this Mass, especially in the Advent season, was to usher in the light of Christ, for unto us a Son is born. And this is symbolically and simultaneously achieved with the rising of the sun. A union between the Son and the sun: faith and creation, where the dawn of a new day brings about the dawning of salvation.
Now having received the light, God prepared a way for us, a path to follow. After Mass, parishioners were guided by the AFLC team to be a gift to others, just as Christ was the ultimate gift to us. Persons were given hampers and encouraged to now go out to the streets and neighbouring areas to greet, meet, share, and pray with those who may not have much or have been away from church for a while.
We were not prepared for the tremendous feedback. In the words of St Francis of Assisi… “for it is in giving that we receive”.
I witnessed the raw emotions of both those who gave and those who received. People were truly touched. Tears, joy, laughter. It was indescribable to see the immense impact of being a pleasant surprise in someone’s day.
From by the doubles vendor to the taxi stand, Jesus visited His people. A beautiful exchange. Everyone then regrouped at the church and had breakfast together.
I felt the peace and the love, I saw the joy and the hope. I encountered Advent. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus and look towards 2023, remember that you are the light of the world.