Year 2020 was about to end when the lay associates in Negros of the PBVM Philippine Unit came together for a recollection. The theme was ‘Christmas in this time of the Pandemic’. We shared our experiences in this time of the Pandemic and how we were affected. Our strong awareness of the pandemic started in mid-March continuing till May for us in the schools. The school opening was moved to August instead of the usual date in June. Many of us in the school are lay associates.
It was a time of lockdown, but some helped in distributing relief goods. This act, though admirable, caused anxiety to some families who were scared that those who were exposed outside their homes may become carrier of the virus. Those in medical professions were in the front lines and due to the anxiety of their families that they may become carriers had to board in some other houses. All Masses and church celebrations were suspended. Law enforcers blocked travellers except those with complete required documents. It meant that even visits to loved ones who were sick were forbidden and same thing in times of death in the family. Small enterprises serving food were ordered to close while their workers needed to be provided sustenance. All of these and more have become a burden to us and to many families.
On the practical aspects, the experiences were helpful. There was less expense for travelling and marketing. There was more time to strengthen family bonding. Attention to the home which was often neglected due to the professional work outside, was now given time. The banning of liquor controlled the vices of many. Gardens in the homes were tended for vegetables.
We reflected on what God was telling us in all these happenings. We felt somehow that God is telling us to slow down, to do more reflection prior to uttering words and moving into action, to take good care of our Common Home, Earth. Around our reflection emerged images symbolizing our reflections, like prayerful hands, new-born babies, butterflies, plants, candles, Christ holding the Earth etc. They spoke to us about giving more time to prayers, caring for the environment like a new-born baby, giving and receiving like the plants, rebirth and transformation, light in the darkness and clinging to God our one and only charger or source of energy. In addition, we came to some realizations such as the need for long patience in time of crisis, the value of harmonious relationships despite differences and the living out of generosity, the gift of sharing, the call to become environmentalists even in little ways and to promote the green economy. Sisters Aquila and Mildred helped us by adding their own thoughts and reflections.
Fr Julius Martir, CSsR deepened our reflections, the meaning of our images/symbols as he celebrated with us the Eucharist citing the theology of Christmas in the midst of a secularized and seemingly pagan Christmas celebrations. He presented the challenge before us of a Christmas in the midst of the global threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We parted from the recollection with recollected hearts, joy-filled and enthusiastic to face the challenge of the year 2021.
Submitted by: Ms Athena Marie Sayson – Coordinator of Parolitas (PBVM Lay Associates)