Our annual monsoon season usually starts around late October and goes on until early January. It tends to affect the East Coast states the most, and it has been raining on and off for the past few weeks here in Kuantan, Pahang. Currently, the weather in Pahang hasn’t been too hot or humid, and most days are sunny. At night, temperatures range between 24-25oC and during the day it’s between 28-32oC. Even though we have not had severe weather here in Pahang, the same cannot be said for our neighbours in Kelantan and Terengganu who have experienced flooding in early November. Heavy rainfall is expected to continue in the region till the end of December and into early January.
The last two long-weekends of December are usually busy and exciting! The liturgy of the year brings back-to-back celebrations starting with Final Advent, Christmas, Holy Family and New Year. This year, Advent ends earlier because we celebrate Christmas Eve Mass right after the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The same thing happened back in 2018.
As Catholics, we have two important days of obligation to fulfil during this year-end and Christmas festivities: the Fourth Sunday of Advent and Christmas. It is important to note that attending one single Mass on Sunday morning will only fulfil one obligation. To fulfil both days, we must attend two separate Masses, one on Sunday (the Final Advent) and another on Monday (the Midnight Mass or the Christmas Day Mass). Some people may choose to attend a Sunset Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, followed by a morning Mass on Christmas Day, giving themselves a day’s break between the two celebrations. However, it is important not to miss out on both these days of obligation.
If you choose to attend the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, you will be treated to carols being sung by the choir, as well as a nativity play. This year, Christmas carols with the theme – The Gift of Christmas – will be sung in four different languages and will last for 45 minutes. The choir has been practising for the past two weekends. So, let’s not forget the significance of both days and ensure we attend Mass on both the Fourth Sunday of Advent and as well as the Christmas Mass.
On Sunday, 31 December 2023 (The Holy Family Day), the same thing happens. On New Year's Eve at midnight, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God and the New Year. Please note that Sunday is a day of obligation. Celebrating the New Year on Monday is an excellent way to start 2024!
We should take some time out of our busy schedule to reflect on these matters, especially on days of obligation. Let us sincerely make an effort to prioritise our spiritual well-being and truly grasp the significance of these important religious events that revolve around the birth of Jesus Christ. Let us start the new year through the Holy Mother of God.