Week Three


Live With Joy

On the third Sunday of Advent, we are filled with joy! It is Gaudete Sunday, derived from the Latin word for rejoice.

In the second reading for Gaudete Sunday, Saint Paul advises us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanksgiving in all circumstances.”

Living joyfully can be challenging for us at times, so you can imagine how difficult it is for José and Dina Reyes and their three young children. Daylight shines through gaps in the wooden walls and makeshift roof of their one-room home. When it rains, the dirt floor turns to mud while they scramble to move their beds.

It may seem like this family has little reason to rejoice, but they spend quality time with God in prayer each day and are quick to thank him for all of the good things in their lives.

A family in their home together.
José and Dina Reyes are raising three young children in this home with a dirt floor and walls that can’t keep out the rain.

“I’ve seen God’s provision getting bigger and bigger from where we were to where we are today,” José said.

The Lord shows his mercy through the caring Catholics of the local diocese. Supported by Cross Catholic Outreach, the diocese provides nutrient-rich Vitafood and agricultural assistance so José can expand the crops he grows in a small, rented field. The family now has an improved diet and is earning income from selling some of the harvests.

José shows his gratitude to the Lord by serving his neighbors and the Church. He is an altar server for Masses in the community and participates in a faith-sharing group that meets in members’ homes.

“We don’t even have a new home yet, and we are so happy just to think that we will be able to sleep safely, and the children won’t have to walk around in mud inside the house,” he said.

As you consider José’s hopeful outlook, consider how you can live in joyous expectation, trusting in the Lord’s goodness.

Second Reading from the Third Sunday of Advent

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 (NRSVCE)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Take Action: Country Name Game

Guatemala is located in Central America. Use a map to learn the names of the countries in Central America and their locations. Then, test how many countries you can remember by filling in the map on this page.

Parents can set a dollar amount for each correct answer (e.g., $1 per country) and contribute the total to their child’s collection box or donate that amount below.


Traditional Guatemalan Recipes

Make one of these meals for dinner this week. Parents, take a picture of the dish and tag us on social media using #AdventTransformation.

Many families in rural Guatemala eat rice, beans and tortillas every day. Make a batch of rice and beans for your family to eat as you learn more about Guatemala and the lives of the people we are serving!


       •     Vegetable oil or corn oil
       •     1 small onion, diced
       •     1-1/2 cups long-grain rice
       •     1-1/2 cups water
       •     1 can red beans or kidney beans
       •     1 can coconut milk
       •     1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
       •     Salt

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add the uncooked rice and cook for two minutes, stirring to prevent burning.

Add the water and all remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently for 15-25 minutes or until the rice is tender and the water has absorbed.

Remove the pan from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Cover and let rest for 3-5 minutes before serving. Add additional seasonings if desired.

For a heartier meal, try this traditional Guatemalan take on pork and beans. This slower-cooked meal takes a little time, but the results are worth your while!


  •        •     1 lb. dried small red beans
  •        •     7-1/2 cups water, divided
  •        •     1-1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  •        •     1/2 cup green tomatillos, whole
  •        •     2 small ripe plumb tomatoes, whole
  •        •     4 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
  •        •     1 medium onion, peeled and cut in big chunks
  •        •     1 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast, cut into 1-inch cube
  •        •     1 Chile guaque (guajillo pepper), seeds and stem removed

Pick through the beans to remove any stones or debris and soak them in 4 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of salt for 4 hours. Once soaking is finished, rinse and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook until beans are soft but not mushy, 1 to 2 hours.

In a pot, add the pork meat, 3 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium heat until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. Drain. In the same saucepan fry the meat in its own grease for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Toast the tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic, onion and Chile guaque in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until lightly charred, 5 to 8 minutes.

Place the skillet contents into a blender with 2 tablespoons of the cooked beans, 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

Add the sauce from the blender to the meat and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.

  1. Add the rest of the beans to the pot and stir well. Turn heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Rellenitos de platano are a traditional Guatemalan street food made with plantains and black beans. Make these “donuts” for your family as a special sweet treat!


  •        •    4-6 ripe plantains
  •        •    1 cinnamon stick
  •        •    1 can refried beans
  •        •    1-2 tablespoons sugar
  •        •    1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash the outer skin of the plantains and trim the ends off. Slice each plantain into four chunks with the skin on.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the plantains and cinnamon stick. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until plantain appears soft but not mushy.

Peel the plantains and remove the black seeds from the middle. Mash the plantains with a fork until smooth. Let cool.

In a pan, cook the refried beans with 2 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon of sugar and salt until the beans become soft and easy to mash. Mix until a paste forms. Taste and add more sugar if desired.

Learning Corner

Guatemala has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world, and almost one-half of its children under age 5 are malnourished. This means either they don’t get enough nutritious food or they are too sick to absorb the food they need.

God wants his children to grow healthy and strong — and by working together, we can help them do that! Cross Catholic Outreach helps families like José and Dina’s by sending them meals, and with a safe home, their children and grandchildren will be healthier and benefit from those meals even more. When you help shelter vulnerable children, you givethem so much more than a house — you also give them better health, greater joy and a brighter future!

*Fact Source: CIA World Factbook, World Bank

Family Discussion

1. The Third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete comes from the Latin word for “rejoice.” What is something that brings you joy? What makes you happy?

2. Try to remember the last time you were really excited about something. What were you looking forward to? Imagine how excited the Reyes family might be about receiving a new home.

3. What are some ways that you can bring joy to other people? Think about both the people in your life and poor families in other countries. Consider putting one of the things you named into action this week.

Pray Together

Dear God, thank you for giving us joy through Jesus. While we prepare to celebrate the joy of his birth, we also eagerly await the joy of his return. Please help us share this joy with those around us and with people who need it the most.

Comfort them with your love, and let your Holy Spirit work through us. Amen.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.