Taking Care of Our Children

The events of 2020 have not only been difficult for adults but also for our children and adolescents. They have struggled through this crisis physically, emotionally, and, yes, even spiritually. In increasing numbers, we are seeing the rise of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Coming together as family, to spend time together and support each other, can restore hope and peace for our children, families, and world. While we may be sharing more common space, are we truly connecting with those around us?
Families can come together in very simple ways, such as making time for device-free family meals and including the Advent wreath prayers or at the very least grace. For young children, spending time reading Christmas or biblical storybooks can be wonderful conversation starters.

Advent is a perfect opportunity to revisit the Church’s traditions of the Jesse Tree, Advent calendar, and Advent wreath. Participating in these activities as a family strengthens not only our faith but also our family bonds. Time spent with loved ones sharing, talking, and laughing, is the greatest gift we can give one another this year. Checking-in and being connected provides stability and hope to children and adolescents, who -while they may not be saying it- are also feeling the strain of this unprecedented year.

Family Activities

During Advent this year, the Diocese will be sharing activities and virtual events to bless your season. There are also excellent Advent Calendars available from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and CatholicMom.com if you are seeking more inspiring ideas. These calendars are both downloadable and include prayers, reflections, and activities for all ages.

The Fall River Diocese Office of Faith Formation has launched a new website for Advent entitled Take back Advent for your Family. Its mission, “In the midst of the rush of Christmas, amplified by the challenges of this year, we invite families to come together this Advent and prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. Why? Because the rituals and memories you make now will help you grow as a family and a household of faith.”
On the website, you will find the story of St. Nicholas, whose feast day our Church celebrates on December 6th, an explanation of Advent, and a wide variety of excellent Advent resources. You can learn more and take advantage of these resources on their website.

Waiting with the Words of the Prophet Isaiah

More than ever, focusing on the Scriptures during Advent reminds us of the true meaning of this season—a time of waiting, preparing, and hoping. Here are four of my favorite verses from the Book of Isaiah. Perhaps you may wish to pick one each week of Advent to add to your personal prayer and reflection.

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.” (Isaiah 2:4)
“A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him” (Isaiah 11: 10)

“In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.” (Isaiah 40:3-4)
“Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40:11)

FACE to Partner with BOSTON IRISH Sweater Co.

We celebrated a fantastic virtual fall event in support of the Foundation to Advance Catholic Education (FACE) and its mission to provide scholarships for a Catholic education—thanks to all who gave so generously this year! We are also grateful for our partnership with Boston Irish Sweater Co. FACE will receive 50% of the profits when purchasing one of their exclusive sweaters imported directly from Ireland. For more details, please visit www.face-dfr.org or contact Jane Robin at jrobin@catholicfoundationsema.org. A great gift for a great cause!
My prayer for you and your loved ones this Advent is to keep the Lord as the focus of the season—by embracing a spirit of prayer, contemplation, and togetherness. In doing so, the message of Jesus will be brought to life through us—by word and deed—to this world, so in need of it now more than ever.

O Reverendíssimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
O Reverendíssimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River