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Advent

What Is Advent?

Advent is a season of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. It starts four Sundays before Christmas and has a dual focus. Firstly, it commemorates the incarnation of the Christ child in Bethlehem, reminding us of the miraculous birth that brought hope and salvation to the world. Secondly, Advent calls us to be alert and ready for the second coming of Christ, emphasizing the importance of spiritual readiness and anticipation.

During Advent, we are encouraged to prepare our hearts for Jesus and intentionally remove the distractions of the world from our lives. This can be challenging, especially with the commercialization of Christmas. However, Advent provides us with an opportunity to refocus our attention on the true meaning of the season.

Common practices during this season include increased prayer and acts of charity. These practices help us to deepen our relationship with God and extend love and kindness to others, reflecting the spirit of Christ's coming.

The liturgical color for Advent is purple, symbolizing the penitential nature of the season and our preparation for the celebration of Christmas. However, on the third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday, the color changes to rose. This change signifies the joy and anticipation as we reach the midpoint of the season.

In summary, Advent is a time of spiritual preparation, reflection, and anticipation. It invites us to refocus our hearts and minds on the true meaning of Christmas and to actively prepare for the coming of Christ.

Advent Traditions

Advent Wreath
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The Advent Wreath

The Advent wreath is a powerful symbol that helps us center our hearts and minds on the preparation for the coming of our Lord at Christmas. It typically consists of a wreath made of evergreen branches, with four candles placed on it. Each candle represents one week of the season, and they are lit progressively, one by one, as we journey through the season. As we light the candles, we say a prayer that often includes a scripture reference, deepening our reflection and anticipation. To enhance your experience, you can download a prayer sheet that provides guidance and inspiration for your daily Advent wreath prayers. Download a prayer sheet here.

Reverse Advent Calendar
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Reverse Advent Calendar

A reverse Advent Calendar is a wonderful way to cultivate a spirit of generosity during the Advent season. Instead of receiving a small gift or treat each day, you can use this calendar to give back to others. Each day, you can choose an item to donate to a local charity or a person in need. It could be non-perishable food items, warm clothing, or even toys for children. By participating in a reverse Advent Calendar, you can make a positive impact in your community and spread the true meaning of Christmas - giving and sharing with others.

Advent Table
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Set Up an Advent Table

Set up an Advent table in a central location in your home or youth ministry room. Choose a room that your family or group uses frequently, such as the family room or common area. The table will serve as a visual reminder to observe the season and resist the temptation to get caught up in the holiday rush. Decorate the table with symbols of Advent, such as an Advent wreath, a Jesse Tree, or a nativity scene. This dedicated space will help create a peaceful atmosphere and encourage reflection on the true meaning of Advent.

The O Antiphons
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Pray the O Antiphons

The "O Antiphons" are a beautiful tradition to incorporate into your family prayer during Advent. These antiphons are part of the evening prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, specifically from December 17 to December 23. Each antiphon uses Old Testament imagery to proclaim the coming of the Christ child. By praying the O Antiphons, you can deepen your reflection on the meaning of Advent and prepare your hearts for the birth of Jesus. Consider incorporating these powerful prayers into your family's daily prayer routine during this special season.

Reconciliation Confession
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Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)

Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) during Advent is a powerful way to prepare our hearts for the birth of Jesus. Consider attending a confession service as a family or with your youth group or ministry. Confession allows us to experience the beautiful gift of grace from our Lord and receive forgiveness for our sins. Afterward, celebrate this moment of reconciliation by going out for a fun treat together. It's a joyful way to acknowledge the mercy and love of God in our lives during this special season.

Jesse Tree
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Make a Jesse Tree

Make a Jesse Tree to deepen your understanding of the biblical figures who played a significant role in Jesus' lineage. Each day during Advent, read a story about a person related to Jesus from the Bible and hang an ornament on the tree that symbolizes that individual. This interactive Advent craft helps you connect with the rich history and heritage of Jesus' family tree, fostering a sense of anticipation and preparation for His birth. Explore the stories of prophets, kings, and other important figures, and reflect on their significance in the coming of our Savior.

Prayerful Observations

Paper Chain
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Make a Good Deeds Chain

During Advent, we especially focus on doing acts of charity and kindness for others. To reinforce this spirit of giving, why not start a good deeds chain? It's a simple yet meaningful activity that involves creating a paper chain. Each time a member of your family performs an act of charity or kindness for someone else, write it on a slip of paper and add it to the chain. This visual representation of your good deeds serves as a reminder of the impact you're making and encourages continued acts of kindness throughout the season.

Advent Prayer Service
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Have an Advent Prayer Service

Having an Advent prayer service is a beautiful way to gather as a family and prepare for the coming of Christ. Keep it simple and engaging, especially if you have young children. Begin with a short scripture reading that reflects the spirit of Advent. Then, offer petitions for the needs of your family, friends, and the world. You can also include traditional prayers such as the Our Father and Hail Mary. If you need guidance, a prayer service is provided. Remember, the goal is to create a sacred space and time for reflection and connection with God during this special season.

Let the Spirit of Advent Visit
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Let the Spirit of Advent Visit

As Christmas approaches, it's easy to get caught up in the stress and busyness of the season. But today, take a moment to pause and invite the spirit of Advent into your home. Gather your family together and have a heartfelt conversation about how your Advent journey has been so far. Share the highs and lows, the moments of joy and the challenges you've faced. Reflect on what you've done to prepare for the arrival of Jesus and discuss what you still hope to accomplish. This simple act of reflection and connection will help you refocus on the true meaning of Advent and bring a sense of peace and serenity to your family.

Make Votive Candle Holders
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Make Votive Candle Holders

Create a meaningful and beautiful addition to your Advent decorations by making votive candle holders. These DIY candle holders can be used in your own home or given as thoughtful gifts to loved ones. Get the whole family involved in this fun and easy craft project, regardless of age. By using colored tissue paper, you can achieve a stunning "stained glass" effect when the candles are lit. As you light the votive candles, take a moment to say a prayer for a special person in your life. It's a simple yet powerful way to bring the spirit of Advent into your home.

Wreath Prayer Service
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Wreath Prayer Service

To deepen the spiritual significance of wreaths during Advent and Christmas, incorporate a wreath prayer service into your holiday traditions. Hang an evergreen wreath on your front door or in your home, and gather your family for a meaningful prayer service. As you light the candles on the wreath, reflect on the symbolism of each candle representing a week of Advent. Offer prayers of gratitude for our salvation and the hope that the season brings. This simple yet powerful ritual will help you and your loved ones focus on the true meaning of Advent.

Christmas Tree Blessing
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Put Up the Tree and Do a Christmas Tree Blessing

Putting up the Christmas tree is a beloved tradition that brings joy and excitement to the holiday season. But amidst the hustle and bustle, it's important to remember the true meaning of Christmas. Take a moment to gather your family and do a Christmas tree blessing. This simple act of prayer and reflection will help shift your focus back to Jesus and the significance of his birth. Whether your tree is already up or you're just starting the decorating process, a Christmas tree blessing is a beautiful way to keep the spirit of Advent alive in your home.

Advent Stations
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Advent Stations

Advent Stations are a powerful way to deepen your spiritual journey during the Advent season. Similar to the Stations of the Cross, these stations invite you to embark on a prayerful and reflective journey through scripture. Each station represents a significant moment in God's preparation for the coming of Christ throughout history. As you meditate on each station, you will gain a deeper understanding of God's love and plan for humanity. This devotion allows you to connect with the rich traditions and stories that have shaped our faith, and it serves as a reminder of the anticipation and hope that Advent brings.

Make an Appreciation List
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Make a Thankfulness List

Encourage your children to shift their focus from what they want to receive for Christmas to what they already have and are grateful for. This advent activity is all about making an appreciation list. Sit down with your kids and ask them to write down everything they are thankful for, whether it's their family, friends, good health, or even the simple joys in life. This exercise will help them cultivate a spirit of gratitude and remind them of the blessings they already have. It's a beautiful way to teach them the true meaning of the season and foster a sense of contentment.

Connecting with Others

Visit the Elderly
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Visit the Elderly

Visiting the elderly during Advent can be a valuable experience for children and teenagers. It may also involve visiting a nursing home. However, for children and young adults who are not accustomed to interacting with older individuals, it can be uncomfortable due to perceived differences. Fortunately, there are simple ways to overcome this initial discomfort and establish a connection. Encourage children to ask questions about the elderly person's life experiences, hobbies, or interests. This can help bridge the generation gap and create meaningful conversations. Additionally, engaging in activities such as playing games, reading books, or sharing stories can foster a sense of connection and understanding.

Make Some Homemade Christmas Gifts
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Make Some Homemade Christmas Gifts

In addition to being thoughtful presents, these homemade Christmas gifts are perfect for kids to create for their grandparents, relatives, neighbors, or anyone special in their lives. As the school Christmas break approaches, it's time to consider gifts for the kids' teachers. While I usually give them gift cards, I also encourage the children to make small homemade gifts to express their gratitude. Unlike baked goods that need to be consumed immediately, these ideas can be saved and enjoyed later. Consider homemade spice mixes, decorated candles, aromatic personal gifts, or gifts in a jar. These unique and heartfelt gifts will surely be appreciated.

Surprise a Neighbor
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Surprise a Neighbor

Spread the joy of Advent by surprising a neighbor with an unexpected act of kindness. Take a moment to think about what you can do to brighten someone's day. It could be as simple as shoveling their driveway, leaving a small gift on their doorstep, or offering to run an errand for them. These acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone's life, especially during the holiday season. Remember, you never know when somebody might really need a helping hand or a friendly gesture. Let the spirit of Advent guide you in spreading love and compassion to those around you.

Winter Family Activities for the Outdoors
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Winter Family Activities for the Outdoors

Winter family activities for the outdoors are a great way to embrace the beauty of the season and spend quality time together. Bundle up and head outside for a fun-filled day of sledding, building snowmen, or having a snowball fight. Take a nature walk and marvel at the winter landscape, noticing how God has provided us with this playground to enjoy. Use this time to reflect on the many blessings God has given us, including the ultimate gift of Jesus. These activities not only create lasting memories but also deepen our appreciation for the wonders of creation.

Do Yardwork for the Elderly in Your Neighborhood
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Do Yardwork for the Elderly in Your Neighborhood

Service projects are a good way to show our care for others during Advent. One popular project with teens and younger children is yardwork for the elderly. As winter approaches, there might be some leaves left from the fall or fallen branches from winter storms that need to be cleared. Taking the time to help an elderly neighbor with these tasks can make a big difference in their lives. Not only will they appreciate the physical help, but it also provides an opportunity for meaningful connections and conversations. So grab your rakes and gloves, and lend a helping hand to those in need this Advent season.

Sing Some Christmas Carols
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Sing Some Christmas Carols

Christmas caroling can help us think about the coming of the Christ child and it is a good way to evangelize to those around us during Advent. You can go out caroling with an organized group or just sing a few at a family gathering. Include plenty of songs which focus on Christ. Singing carols not only spreads joy and cheer, but it also reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas. Songs can touch the hearts of those who hear them, bringing them closer to the spirit of Advent and the anticipation of Christ's birth. So gather your loved ones, raise your voices, and let the melodies of Christmas carols fill the air.

Make Some Christmas Ornaments and Give Them Away
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Make Some Christmas Ornaments and Give Them Away

Spread the joy of Advent by making homemade Christmas ornaments and giving them away. These personalized gifts are a thoughtful way to let someone know you are thinking of them. Consider making ornaments with religious symbols or messages that reflect the true meaning of Christmas. This act of service is particularly meaningful for elderly neighbors or shut-ins who may appreciate the gesture and the opportunity to decorate their homes. By sharing your creativity and spreading the spirit of Advent, you can bring light and cheer into someone else's life during this special season.

Corporal Works of Mercy
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Do One of the Corporal Works of Mercy

During Advent, we can follow Jesus' example by engaging in the Corporal Works of Mercy. These acts of charity demonstrate our love and compassion for those who are marginalized and in need. By feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead, we can make a positive impact on the lives of others. This Advent, let us embrace the spirit of giving and reach out to those in need, embodying the true meaning of the season.

Lesson Plans

Be Watchful Be Alert Lesson Plan
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Be Watchful! Be Alert!

In this lesson plan, we will explore the importance of being watchful and alert for the coming of Jesus. Drawing inspiration from Mark 13:33-37, we will delve into the various ways we can prepare ourselves. Prayer is a powerful tool that helps us connect with God and align our hearts with His will. Engaging in service projects allows us to shift our focus from ourselves to others, mirroring the selflessness of Christ. Acts of charity, such as baking cookies for a neighbor or donating to a thrift store, demonstrate our love for those in need. Let us embrace the spirit of Advent and be open to the unexpected ways the Lord may be calling us to serve.

What Are You Waiting For
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What Are You Waiting For?

In this season of Advent, we are reminded of the message of John the Baptist, who proclaimed that "One mightier than I is coming after me." It is a time of preparation and anticipation as we await the coming of Jesus. Waiting can be challenging, especially when we are eagerly anticipating something exciting. But Advent teaches us the value of patience and the importance of preparing our hearts for the arrival of Christ. As we reflect on Mark 1:1-8, let us consider what we are truly waiting for and how we can use this time to deepen our faith and draw closer to God.

Cry Out Lesson Plan
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Cry Out

In the Cry Out lesson plan, we delve into the significance of St. John the Baptist and his role in preparing the way for Jesus. Through this lesson, youth can gain a deeper understanding of who this prophet was and the impact he had on delivering the message of Jesus Christ. Drawing inspiration from Luke 3:1-6, we recognize that our modern world is filled with constant noise and distractions that can hinder our ability to hear and share the message of Christ. Just as in Jesus' time, God sent John the Baptist to break through the noise and call people to repentance and preparation for the coming of the Messiah.

Blessed Bearer Lesson Plan
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Blessed Bearer

Our Blessed Mother, Mary, serves as a powerful example of how to bear the Good News to others. In the act of evangelization, we carry Jesus to the world, just as Mary did when she brought Jesus to her cousin Elizabeth. Mary's willingness to be the vessel through which Jesus entered the world teaches us the importance of sharing our faith with others. Through her example, we learn that evangelization is not just about spreading the message, but also about embodying the love and compassion of Christ in our interactions with others. Let us look to Mary as our guide in being blessed bearers of the Good News.

Scary Stuff Lesson Plan
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Scary Stuff

In the Scary Stuff lesson plan, we explore the concept of the second coming of Christ and how it relates to Advent. It is important for youth to understand that while the idea of Christ coming in glory at the end of time may seem scary, we should not be afraid. Instead, we should focus on being prepared for this event. Advent serves as a reminder that we should not wait until the last moment to give our hearts to Jesus. The lesson is based on Luke 21:25-28, 34-36, and emphasizes the importance of using the Advent season to ready ourselves for the coming of Christ.

What Should We Do Lesson Plan
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What Should We Do?

In the What Should We Do? lesson plan, we can learn from St. John the Baptist's example of seeking advice from a trustworthy source. Based on Luke 3:10-18, this lesson plan emphasizes the importance of finding guidance from someone who is not influenced by the culture or seeking personal gain. Just like the people in Jesus' time trusted John the Baptist, we should also seek advice from those who are dedicated to serving God. This lesson encourages youth to reflect on the importance of seeking wise counsel and not relying solely on the opinions of family and friends.

Who Are You Do Lesson Plan
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Who Are You?

In this Who Are You? reflection, we invite youth to explore the question that was asked of John the Baptist: "Who are you?" Our identity can be shaped by various factors, but how does our faith influence who we are? Drawing from John 1:6-8, 19-28, where John the Baptist is questioned about his identity, this lesson plan encourages young people to reflect on their own sense of self. Like John, who humbly acknowledged that he was not the Christ, we are reminded that our true identity lies in pointing others towards Jesus, rather than seeking personal glory.

Fiat Lesson Plan
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Fiat

Mary's fiat, her resounding "let it be done," is a powerful example of surrendering to God's will. In today's world, where we are often encouraged to assert our own desires and ambitions, Mary's yes serves as a reminder of the importance of humility and trust in God's plan. Just as Mary embraced her role as the mother of Jesus, we too can find ways to say yes to God's invitations in our own lives. Whether it's stepping out of our comfort zones, forgiving others, or serving those in need, saying yes to God's will can lead to profound transformation and blessings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Advent?

Advent is a season of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. The focus of this season is both the incarnation of the Christ child in Bethlehem and being alert and ready for the coming of Christ.

How is Advent observed?

Advent is a time to focus on God and remove the distractions of the world from our lives. This can be difficult due to the consumer aspects of Christmas. Common practices include increased prayer and acts of charity.

When does Advent take place?

It starts four Sundays before Christmas and lasts through December 24, up to the celebration of Mass for the Nativity of Our Lord.

What is the liturgical color for Advent?

The liturgical color for Advent is purple. This signifies that we are getting our hearts ready for the celebration of Christmas. The only exception is that the color for the third Sunday of Advent is rose, in celebration of being halfway through the season.

Why is Advent important?

Advent is important because it helps us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. It reminds us to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus and to reflect on the significance of His birth.

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