Photo | COURTESY OUR LADY OF LOURDES CHURCH, SLIDELL
Father Cletus Orji, parochial vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Slidell, has some light-hearted fun while preparing the parish’s large Advent wreath for the next four weeks.
Following are Advent activities for children recommended by Sam Pitre, associate director of the archdiocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life.
By Sam Pitre, contributing Writer, Clarion Herald
“Prepare the way of the Lord” echoes the words of the Prophet Isaiah and St. John the Baptist.
As St. John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of Christ, so are we called to do so within our hearts. As you drive around New Orleans, you see the “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers and billboards. This slogan is a reminder of what the meaning of Christmas is all about, Christ. It is during Advent that we are called to prepare our hearts to truly receive Christ at Christmas. Advent is a time that we allow our hearts and family to slow down and prepare the way for the Lord.
So, how can we make Advent holy and prepare this way?
Many people hear of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving when it comes to Lent, but few realize they are part of Advent. When we do these things, we grow in a spiritual longing for the Lord and place ourselves in a position to truly receive Him. It helps us desire that “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). It is also during the time of Advent that we are to experience the history of our salvation. Christ came into the world as a light to all nations, and he does so within our families. When we make our home a fertile ground for the birth of Christ, we allow His light to better transform and lead our families to holiness.
Two ways my family “prepares the way for the Lord” are an Advent wreath and Jesse Tree. We have decided to have our Christmas tree as our Jesse Tree, and every day we put an ornament on the tree and read a part of salvation history with a short prayer. Each day leads up to the birth of Christ on Christmas day. As we understand the story of Christ, we truly begin to understand our own story and help our kids to do the same.
During Advent, our hearts grow in gratitude for the gifts that God has given us, and it is in gratitude that our hearts become disposed to receive Christ. It is in these times, as we prepare for Christmas, that we are able to experience the fullness of joy that Christ brings and reorient ourselves to Him. We truly begin to see and appreciate the things that are most important in our lives: Christ first, then our family. There are many ways that families can create traditions that help families “prepare the way for the Lord.” I have included some examples below, and more are available online at https://nolacatholic.org/advent2018.
In closing, as we approach this busy time of year, we recall the words of Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” Maybe your Advent isn’t taking on more traditions, but just adding more love to the ones that already exist. And in this you will truly experience the joy of Christmas!
Advent Traditions and Customs
Find more ideas to help make Advent a Holy Season for you and your family at https://nolacatholic.org/advent2018.
Advent Wreath – Light a candle each week or every night at dinner time and include a short prayer.
Christmas Tree Blessing – Before you decorate the tree or on a special evening after the tree is decorated, take some time to pray together as a family.
Jesse Tree – The son of Jesse, King David, is known as an image of Christ in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 11:1, he speaks of the stump of Jesse and a branch growing from it that will bring the Spirit of the Lord.
Advent Devotionals – Many parishes make these available to parishioners free during Advent. If you are looking for more, several Catholic sites, such as Ascension, Franciscan Media, and Our Sunday Visitor offer online devotionals.
Nativity Scene – Display the crèche scene with a wrapped or hidden Jesus to help family grow in the longing for Him and unveil the Christ Child on Christmas morning.
Salvation History – Read the Old Testament books that build the story of the coming of Christ. (See Jeff Cavin’s Bible Timeline or other scholarly resources on this).