By Lisa Zengarini
In their Pastoral Message for Advent, the Quebec Catholic Bishops have invited Catholics to continue “to show creativity” as they prepare to celebrate Christmas and the New Year in “unprecedented” ways this year and to consider the present ongoing health constraints as “an opportunity to live and grow in their faith”.
“While we would like to have a good time with family and friends, out of prudence and to protect one another other, we must limit as much as possible these contacts”, Bishop Christian Rodembourg, president of the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops, writes. However the Covid-19 restrictions must not be endured “passively”, he stresses.
Pray for those who are suffering
Firstly, the letter calls on the faithful to carry in their hearts and prayers the many families who have lost a loved one, or who have a loved one seriously ill from Covid-19 and all front-liners who dedicate themselves to people affected by the disease. Bishop Rodembourg also calls for prayer for “workers who lose their jobs, the traders who declare bankruptcy, people who suffer from isolation, who can't manage to make ends meet at the end of the week and can’t live with dignity”. The Quebec Bishops are also concerned about students whose studies have been disrupted and all the elderly people who are the hardest hit by the pandemic and many of whom suffer from loneliness.
The message therefore invites all Catholics to live up the ideal of universal fraternity proposed by Pope Francis in his Encyclical “Fratelli tutti”, “in their family, social, professional and friendly relationships, especially at this time of the Nativity and the New Year”. Referring to the limitations to the number of people admitted in churches, the Bishops point out that the local dioceses and parishes have arranged for alternative ways to celebrate Christmas this year.
Expressing their solidarity and spiritual support to the faithfull in this difficult time, the Quebec Bishops finally remind the message of hope that Christmas brings: “While the People of Israel awaited a triumphant Messiah, let us remember that God entered humanity, against all odds, in the guise of a toddler in the arms of Mary and Joseph in a stable in Bethlehem”.