Years ago, there was a series of popular television commercials for a brand of ketchup, which showed people eagerly waiting for the thick ketchup to pour out of the tilted bottle and onto a burger while the refrain of Carly Simon’s hit song “Anticipation” rang out. The message was that anything good is worth waiting for.
Advent is a season of anticipation. However, it’s about much more than anticipating the arrival of Christmas Day. It is a season to remind us that an attitude of anticipation—of hope in good things to come—is to be a core characteristic of Christians year-round. We are a people called to live in joyful hope, anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ in every moment of our lives and in every experience, and participating in the “coming of Christ” to other people.
It is for this reason that our Advent practices tend to reflect this notion of waiting, anticipating, and looking forward with joyful hope. With the Advent season upon us, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to do one of our popular poll questions—this one, about Advent and how you like to observe it in your faith formation setting.
For Advent ideas, including the e-mail series Sacred Advent, visit Advent Resources from Loyola Press.
In our home (we homeschool), we do all of the above. We light the advent candles on the wreath and read from some source of advent prayer and reflections book, in the past we’ve used the little blue books or the magnificat. This year we are using a book called “Advent and Christmas Wisdom from St. Francis of Assisi” compiled by John V Kruse. Then we add to that prayers from Liturgy of the Hours, whatever hour we are close to or read relevant passages from the Anne Catherine Emmerich’s “The Life of Jesus Christ” (volume one of four) or from Mary Agreda’s “The Mystical City of God” (vol 1 or 2).
Then the kids blow out the candles and open a door on the advent calendar. It’s a little house with a cubby behind each door and they get either candy or some small chockie each day, a rosary, hot wheels, etc.
We’ve done it for so long now, that when they hear Father say at the end of Mass, “The first week of advent starts next week….”, as soon as we get home they go straight to the closet and bring out the wreath, candles and of course the calendar.
We have also started a tradition of making a few sets of advent Jesse Tree ornaments for family and friends. It’s hard to find lovely ones (impossible), that do justice to the subject. So we color print the individuals off the Patmos Icon Jesse Tree of Life and then decoupage the image to the front of an oval clear plastic ornament from a craft store and gold wrapping paper to the back. Someday we will have time to write the appropriate bible passage on the back….sigh. For the nights of the O Antiphons we write the chant music and words on the side that would have the image. The idea is to add an ornament each night after reading the associated scripture or singing the O Antiphon.
Such a joy filled time for children and an excellent way to engender in them a love of our Catholic faith and traditions.
Thanks for sharing your great ideas, Kate!