Advent marks a new beginning for the Church. A new calendar year. A new season of awaiting the birth of our Saviour. With all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, there is the inevitable attention to gifts and what will Santa bring this year.
My children are still very young to truly understand the whole gift-giving bonanza. Whenever they get a gift, they sometimes prefer to play with the box or wrapping than the item inside since they’re so little. But soon enough, they will understand this ritual of gift-giving. My future hope is that my husband and I can give them gifts that will outlast the “it” toy of the holiday season.
I hope that we can give our daughters the gift of faith. The kind of faith that Our Lady had when a teenage Mary bravely said “Yes” to God. The silent strength of a mother who witnessed the injustice and suffering of her son on the Cross. The resilient faith in God of His plan which was revealed in the Resurrection of our Lord, the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
We hope to pass on the fruits of faith in prayer. A devotion to prayer that leads to a strong relationship with God. Prayer that leads to inner transformation and outward works of mercy, love and service.
We hope that this faith is also accompanied by reason, the utilization of their intellect to be able to explain the Catechism and church teachings with compassion, conviction and love, if necessary, but most importantly through the way they live their Iives.
And last, but not least, we hope that this faith can help them to become leaders in society. Throughout history, there are countless examples of Christian witness to love, faith and hope, those who have helped people living in poverty, given comfort to the sick, and volunteered in numerous charitable and social service organizations. There are the martyrs of yesterday and today, living in war-torn, violence-plagued areas around the world where the witness of the Christian faith is truly heroic and downright dangerous.
There are also countless saints, including female leaders of their time, who are dynamic women of faith. Of course, there is the holiness and strength of our Mother Mary, and modern day Catholic heroines like Mother Teresa who gave humanity and compassion to the poor, the sick, unborn children and the dying.
Moreover, there is the inspirational story of St. Josephine Bakhita of Sudan who was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a young girl, was beaten and tortured, and later came to the Catholic faith with mercy for her transgressors instead of hate. (She also became a living witness of faith by becoming a Catholic nun.)
I hope our daughters can live their lives with a heart for God and for others, and be strengthened and sustained by the faith that we share; a faith that bestows upon each and everyone of us the dignity of being a child of God, and all of the blessings and responsibilities that come with it.