NOLA Catholic Parenting: Top 10 things families can do to observe Lent

As we navigate the “holiday season” here’s our David Letterman style “top 10 things families can do to observe advent.

Beyond our Catholic churches and schools, Advent is a lost season. In our “25 Days of Christmas” world where Christmas décor overtakes our stores well before the Thanksgiving turkey is carved, it is a challenge to observe Advent, but we, as families and as individuals, try.

1. Put an Advent Wreath on Your Table:
Get an Advent Wreath for your home – you know the drill (purple, purple, pink, purple) – and place it at the center of your dining room/kitchen table. Each night at dinner – and, yes, we know family dinner is a hard thing to do all together – light the candle and read a short reflection. Most local church parishes make Advent booklets available or you can find family-friendly daily Advent readings online here:

2. Get an Advent Calendar:
Advent calendars have become really popular as countdowns to Christmas, but a traditional Advent calendar where the children can open the panels and read short stories from the Bible about the Christmas story enforces the “waiting and preparing the way for Christ” that Advent is supposed to be.

3. Celebrate the Saints of Advent:
Advent season is full of popular and not-so-popular saints feast days. St. Nicholas (AKA Santa Claus), St. Lucia, and Mary, in her patronages of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, are just a few that families can look to in the season of Advent as examples on our path to holiness.

4. Go to Confession:
As Catholics, we are blessed with the opportunity to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many of our Catholic churches expand the opportunities for confession in the Advent season to make it easier for families, at least those of age, to come together to receive the graces of the sacrament.

5. Fill your manger:
The idea is to create a comfortable bed for Baby Jesus by filling the manger, with hay that represents the good deeds we do for others each day. The idea is to do little things and big things for others with God’s love and fill the manger so Baby Jesus has a soft place to lay down his sweet head.

6. Choose Advent Reading:
As an individual or as a family, set aside time for some reflective reading that helps you grow in your faith. There are so many titles suitable for all ages, and it doesn’t have to be specific to Advent or Christmas to help us grow in faith.

7. Celebrate Bambinelli Sunday:
Bambinelli Sunday is celebrated in Italy on the third Sunday of Advent. It is the day that the Holy Father blesses the Baby Jesus figurines for the local children’s Nativity Scene. Consider bringing your family’s “Bambinelli” to Mass with you that Sunday and having your pastor bless your figure to place in your home Nativity.

8. Adopt a Family:
Each year families have the opportunity to acknowledge and give thanks for God’s blessings by adopting a family through Catholic Charities. It’s a tangible way to get children involved in the spirit of giving and the importance of helping those who are less fortunate than we are. Learn more about Catholic Charities program here:

9. Pause for Prayer:
In the hustle and the bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to get frazzled. When you feel overwhelmed, stop and pause for prayer to recall what the season is truly about.

10. Come join us at the Lighting of the Creche!:
On Dec. 7 at 5:30 pm, NOLACatholic Parenting is sponsoring a special caroling event in partnership with Notre Dame Seminary. The seminary community, led by Rector Father James Wehner, will bless and light the outdoor crèche on the lawn of Notre Dame Seminary and Trish Foti will then lead the group in seasonal.  All are welcome!

Happy Advent!


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