What is Advent?
Sunday, December 3, 2023 - Sunday, December 24, 2023
Beginning the Church's liturgical year, Advent (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to") is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and to the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth on Christmas. From the earliest days of the Church, people have been fascinated by Jesus’ promise to come back. But the scripture readings during Advent tell us not to waste our time with predictions. Advent is not about speculation. Our Advent readings call us to be alert and ready, not weighted down and distracted by the cares of this world (Lk 21:34-36). Like Lent, the liturgical color for Advent is purple since both are seasons that prepare us for great feast days. Advent also includes an element of penance in the sense of preparing, quieting, and disciplining our hearts for the full joy of Christmas. Advent devotions including the Advent wreath, remind us of the meaning of the season. Our Advent resources (below) can help you fully enter into the season with daily activity and prayer suggestions to prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.
As we prepare for Christmas, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal notes some differences to the Mass that should be observed during the season. For instance, the priest wears violet or purple during Advent, except for the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) when rose may be worn (GIRM, no. 346). Aside from what the priest wears, other aesthetic changes in the Church can include a more modestly decorated altar.
The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, we focus on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord at Christmas. In particular, the "O" Antiphons are sung during this period and have been by the Church since at least the eighth century. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming of Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but of present ones as well.
- Praying Advent
O Antiphons: The O Antiphons are short prayers said from December 17 through December 23 and recount the different names for Jesus and our longing for the Messiah. Click here to find one approach to praying the O Antiphons as a family.
Sign up to receive daily Advent reflections from: Dynamic Catholic
For online and printable Advent calendars, prayers and inspiration, Click Here, (Loyola Press)
Sign up to receive the daily messages from the First Sunday of Advent through Christmas. The messages will come from the Year in Our Church from Loyola Press.
Family Prayers. Click here .
- Living Advent in our homes
Christmas Crib: Perfect tradition to do with children! Place an empty manger (Baby Jesus crib) in the center of your advent wreath. Slowly fill it with straw every time a family member makes a sacrifice or performs a good work or deed. The idea is to teach children about sacrifices and to make a comfy bed for the Baby Jesus. On Christmas night, add the Baby Jesus for the children to wake up to.
Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas on Dec. 6: Click here to read an article that has a description of a great way to celebrate St. Nicholas Day in a Catholic home.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: The most important way to celebrate it is to go to Mass. Click here to read an article that explains the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, how it is celebrated around the world and has additional ideas on how to celebrate it in your home as well.
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12: A young children’s explanation and coloring sheets - https://mycatholickids.com/our-lady-of-guadalupe/
A page with activities and video links explaining the story of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe - https://teachingcatholickids.com/celebrating-the-feast-of-our-lady-of-guadalupe/
Celebrating St. Lucy’s Feast Day With Kids - The Ultimate Resource List!" on December 13 - You will find many different options to celebrate this feast day here https://www.catholicicing.com/st-lucy/.
The Jesse Tree: Instead of trimming your tree the usual way, during Advent, consider making it into a Jesse Tree with ornaments that represent the people, prophesies and events that led up to the birth of Jesus.
- Younger children’s craft - https://www.catholicicing.com/advent-wreath-craft-for-kids/
- Older children through adult craft - https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=474
- Center Piece Advent'urous Design
How can families better live the spirit of Advent and Christmas in their homes? Click here (Catholic Education Resource Center)
- Christmas is coming
Announcement of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord from the Roman Martyrology
This proclamation is traditionally read before Mass on Christmas Eve night. If you won’t be at a Christmas night Mass to hear it read, you might consider proclaiming this in your home before any festivities begin on Christmas. https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year-and-calendar/christmas/christmas-proclamation
Festival of Lessons and Carols
In the Festival of Lessons and Carols, there are nine scripture passages, corresponding songs and prayers that take us through the Fall, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation, and the Great Commission to preach the Good News. All the music can be found on YouTube and Spotify (make a play list ahead of time). If it looks too long for one sitting for your family, you can break it up into sections.
Bless your Christmas Tree
Celebrating Christmas … in its entirety
Did you know that Christmas actually lasts through the Baptism of the Lord which is Jan. 10 in 2021? The link below is full of ideas to help celebrate Christmas in a special way, including saints’ feast days, the Solemnity of Mary on January 1, the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. Some ideas take a bit of preparation while others are simple. https://teachingcatholickids.com/celebrate-christmas/
- Cooking Catholic
Recipes from FAITH magazine's "Catholic Culture" writer Michelle DiFranco
Menus to celebrate the liturgical seasons and feast days
Check out the blog “Catholic Cuisine” to find specially themed recipes and meals to celebrate our Catholic faith. You can find December’s recipes here: