At the beginning of Advent this year, my epic pastor announced a couple changes that our parish was implementing during Advent. First off, the choir would sing the Communion Antiphon for each weekend liturgy (yes!). Secondly, we would be celebrating Bambinelli Sunday.
We learned that Bambinelli Sunday occurs on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. For over thirty years, families have traveled to St. Peter's Square on this particular day, bringing with them the Baby Jesus figurines from their nativity sets. During the Angelus at noon, the Pope blesses all of the Baby Jesus figurines. To watch a video of this awesome tradition, just follow this Youtube link.
After the homily on Sunday morning, our pastor invited all of the children to come forward with their Baby Jesus figurines. The altar servers also had a basket with a few more figurines, in case some children forgot theirs. Since this tradition is completely new to our parish, I honestly wasn't sure that many people would respond. Well, in a matter of a few minutes, the front of the church was filled with about thirty little kids. A couple of parents walked up, holding their babies or toddlers, who then were holding the Baby Jesus figures. People, it was so cute, my heart was totally melting. Fr. Novak kept things lighthearted as he made a few small comments to some children as everyone was coming up:
"Last night, at 5:30 Mass, somebody brought a camel."
"You brought Jesus and Mary!"
"Oh, your Baby Jesus has bubble wrap! Let's keep that bubble wrap on..."
Once everyone made it to the front, Father blessed the figures, everyone went back to their pews, and Mass continued. I have seen some horrifying things done in the Mass as part of an effort to reach out to the children, but this was awesome (though I personally would have liked it better if done after Communion, but I don't know if there is a special prescribed time for this).
Why, specifically, do I like Bambinelli Sunday so much?
It ties our parish in with all of the Catholics in the Vatican who are celebrating this very thing, showing the unity that we share as a universal-Catholic-church. What Pope Francis was doing in Vatican City, our pastor was doing in Oklahoma City. I also think it's a neat way to bring together the domestic church (home life) and the parish church. So many times, it can be easy to leave the prayer and holy traditions in the parish, and not integrate them into one's own family life. But, Bambinelli Sunday brings in a part of each family's home-the Baby Jesus figure. This tradition shows how the Baby Jesus figure from the Nativity should not be treated just as a decorative item, but as something that will lead the family in prayer and devotion throughout the Christmas season.
I hope that more Catholics will learn about the beautiful tradition of Bambinelli Sunday, and that it will truly spark flames of devotions in the lives of the laity. Have a spectacular day!