That Sunday started with a mass. Fr. Xavier Olin, S.J. explained to us the meaning of the candelaria, a celebration forty days after Christmas, where “candles are blessed, lit, and borne in a procession in celebration to Jesus being the light of the world” (Katski, 2014). He elaborated on this idea in his homily where he posed a simple but powerful idea to us present—in the darkness that follows the brightness of Christmas, how have we been a light to others?
The Katutubo Village in Porac Pampangga is one of Xavier’s adopted communities. Annually, they are invited for a Service Interaction with the Grade 5 students, are visited and given goods by the Campus Ministry and Service Office, and are invited to experience the Xavier Fair. “Funtime”, as the fair is known to them, is like Christmas in February. They are able to go around the fair grounds, experience the dizzying rides, bounce on inflatables, play at the creative student booths, and enjoy a program by various student performers. It was a day of laughter, of fun, and of prizes. It was certainly a day in which I saw lights brightly shining.
There was light in the children’s eyes as they were given the chance to play with different contraptions and receive prizes both big and small. There were lights in those class booths that chose to adopt a group of Aeta children by giving them their school supplies giveaways, and those who accommodated the children with great enthusiasm. There was light shining in both the student and teacher volunteers as they took care of their charges for the day. There was light in those volunteers who chose to connect with someone different from themselves, and yet so similar. And of course, as cheesy it may sound, there was definitely a light left in each of us after that fulfilling experience.
As they boarded their bus to go back to Pampanga, some of those I had met in my stint as an ‘ate’ for a day and as last year’s Grade 5 counselor waved enthusiastically to say goodbye. “Next year!” you could hear them say, already looking forward to funtime 2015.
Katski, D. (2014) What is Candle Mass? Sharefaith.com Retrieved from: http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/candlemass.html