Advent: Getting the Help We All Need

Perhaps more than any other liturgical season, the season of Advent reminds us that we need help! It is a season that reminds us that we are in need of an intervention—a savior—someone who enters into our reality and lifts us up and out of the “muck” that we find ourselves trapped in. The “muck,” of course, is sin, and our Savior, of course, is Jesus Christ. In order for us to overcome the effects […]

When and How to Introduce Advent

The first week of Advent begins on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. While that is usual, it forces me to make a choice in how to introduce Advent: Do I talk about the season early, before Thanksgiving? Or do I wait until after the holiday break, when the season has already started? I’ve alternated my approach through the years, but I usually like to at least introduce Advent before the holiday, inviting the young people to […]

Creating Sacred Space for Advent

What does it mean to call something “sacred?” According to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery (InterVarsity Press), “a sacred space is a place where God is encountered in a special or direct way by virtue of which the very place becomes holy and set apart from ordinary space.” This Advent, embrace the season as a sacred space and do so from the ease of your e-mail inbox. Sacred Advent is a daily e-mail prayer break during […]

Get in Touch with Hope for Advent

Advent often seems like just a busy “home stretch” before Christmas “break.” Normally, there is little opportunity for parish leaders and catechists to prepare themselves for the season. We who serve others often think of ourselves last. However, if we do not develop a personal spirituality for Advent, we are not really in a position to teach others its significance. As has often been said, “You can’t give what you don’t have.” Authentic spirituality for […]

Keeping Focused This Advent

Ah, it’s Advent. I don’t know about you, but it sometimes looks as though Christmas is already here, with all the Christmas sales and all the holiday decorations. As I sat in the pew on Sunday, I kept thinking about all the shopping I still had to do—there are only so many shopping days left before Christmas! I hope we’ll all be able to refocus now on our Advent journey. The craziness of Black Friday […]

A New Beginning This Advent

As Christmas approaches, life becomes hectic, overbooked, and our prayer time can shrink. But if we take intentional steps, Advent can become a period of deepening our relationship with our Savior. The word advent means “coming or arrival”—the coming of Christ into the world. Advent is a time of preparation. During this season, we direct our hearts and our minds toward Christmas, the anniversary of Christ’s birth. However, we also prepare for the second coming […]

Advent in the Classroom

Advent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons. I really enjoy the many activities that the parish, the school, and my classroom use to prepare children for the birth of Jesus. Our parish has a “giving tree.” We have a large Christmas tree near the altar. The tree is decorated with paper ornaments that list the age of a child and Christmas gift. Families take an ornament off the tree and buy the gift for […]

Waiting Is a Lesson in Advent

The liturgical calendar offers us two seasons of waiting: Advent and Lent. The Advent season of waiting in joyful hope for the birth of our Lord Jesus often gets overlooked in the rush to prepare for Christmas. Children are notoriously impatient (as are many adults), so Advent is a good opportunity to teach the value found in anticipating the big event. We do this by choosing activities that instruct them on the importance of waiting […]

Free Advent Resources

As you know, Advent begins on Sunday, November 30, 2014. Last year, I created an Advent PowerPoint that was very popular. This presentation includes a script (in Notes Pages view) to assist you in effectively leading your students to a deeper understanding of this wonderful season. When you download the presentation from authorSTREAM, you can sign in with your Facebook account, or you can sign up for authorSTREAM—which is a great way to get some […]

Keeping Advent from Getting Lost in the Holiday Shuffle

The parish is abuzz with questions already: “Have you started your baking, shopping, planning, list-making, wrapping…?” No sooner has Halloween moved on than we find Christmas bursting onto the scene in every grocery store, department store, catalog, and flyer. It is a cycle that encourages us to be always thinking of and preparing for “the next thing,” rather than taking time to stop and become aware of the blessings and graces our God is trying […]