A Grinchy heart


I do not know how this happens, but every year since I started writing for The Anchor, I have had to write an article for the Third Sunday of Advent. Gaudete Sunday, meaning “rejoice” in Latin, is the pink Sunday of Advent. Pink, or more specifically rose, is the Liturgical color for joy. Each week of the Advent season has a theme and the third week is the week of joy. 

I feel like this is one of God’s finer jokes that I keep having to write about joy. I am a self-proclaimed Grinch. I wait until last minute to put my Christmas decorations up (and by that I mean my husband finally gets annoyed with me putting it off and then does it when I’m not home), I have not started my Christmas shopping yet, and I have not sent out Christmas cards in a few years. I am a Grinch. 

I have struggled during the Christmas season for quite a long time. I found out in elementary school that I was allergic to Christmas trees. I found out the hard way. Since my brother and my dad have passed away, it has only made Christmas that less joyful for me. However, I have never struggled with the real meaning of Christmas. I actually love Advent and its real meaning. I can get caught up in preparing my heart for the birth of Christ. I love going to La Salette every Advent and spending time in prayer. 

This year at Stang we started a Praise, Play and Pizza night and our first one was in Advent. Spending time in Adoration singing praise and worship music was such a great way to get into Advent. I love Advent wreaths. I love the other three themes of Advent (Hope, Peace and Love). But here I am again, writing about joy.

We read in this Sunday’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, “Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee” (Is 35:10). What a beautiful reminder from the prophet that all of us will find joy. I like the line that we will enter Zion singing. 

It reminds me of Buddy the Elf with “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” We are in charge of finding a way to find that joy. God has already given us joy but now we have to search for it in our hearts. Maybe for some people that is singing Christmas music. I know that stations have been playing it for more than a month. For some people it might be volunteering to wrap Christmas presents or making cards for those in the hospital or nursing home. For others, it might be having to write a column for their local Catholic paper about joy, one more time.

Pope Francis in one of his Christmas homilies said, “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If He gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.” God has given us the gift of Christmas, the gift of Himself, because He loves us. That is the joy of the third week of Advent, that the God Who created the universe, Who designed everything in such a way that it works together to sustain life, came down, in the form of an innocent and helpless Baby, so that we can know Him, love Him, and live with Him in eternity! 

I pray that this Gaudete Sunday is one of great joy that prepares you for the joy of Christmas, the joy of the birth of a Savior. And for those other Grinches out there, let your heart be open to grow three sizes that day so that we, too, may experience the true joy of Christ! 

Happy Advent, Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.org.

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