The word Advent is from the Latin adventus for “coming” and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. This year, Advent begins on Dec. 2.
During his Angelus address last year, Pope Francis said we should prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus like we joyfully prepare our homes for a visit from a family member or friend.
He encouraged people to be especially vigilant about removing anything keeping us from Christ.
“When we await at home for a visit from a loved one, we prepare everything with care and happiness. In the same way we want to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord: to wait for him every day with solicitude, to be filled with his grace when he comes,” the pope said.
Advent always contains four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, which is Nov. 30, and continuing until Dec. 24. It blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the Bethlehem event.
Since the 900s, Advent has been considered the beginning of the Church year. This does not mean that Advent is the most important time of the year. Easter has always had this honor.
The traditional color of Advent is purple or violet, which symbolizes the penitential spirit.
To help the community prepare their hearts to welcome Emmanuel, “God with us” (Mt 1:23), into our world at Christmas, Catholic Relief Services offers a variety of Advent reflections, activities and prayers.
* Advent Calendar:
Visit here for Brief, daily reflections for Advent in the form of a quote or photo. Sign up for weekly reminders about the calendar and to be notified when it goes live the first day of Advent.
* Weekly Advent Reflections for Families:
These weekly reflections, based on the Gospel readings for each Sunday in Advent, connect the journey of Mary and Joseph with the journey of all those communities around the world that continue to encounter poverty.
* Advent Activities:
One suggestion for a parish or family is to find a way to give back to your community on a local or global scale.
CRS recommends the Gift of Hope Tree as a way to reinforce Catholic social teaching regarding the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. The Gift of Hope Tree is an opportunity to invite children and families to reflect on how Christ was born into poverty and how this is still the reality for many families around the world today. Participants will consider what gifts the Holy Family might have needed and how those gifts compare now to what people who live in poverty might need | En Español.
Ornaments for the Gift of Hope Tree include items such as fertilizer, mosquito nets, hand-washing stations, livestock and so much more. Each item is a gift that Catholic Relief Services provides to people around the world. Gifts can also be purchased through the catalogue, https://gifts.crs.org/?utm_source=gift-tree&utm_medium=print&utm_campaign=gifts-of-hope.
Another suggestion is the simplicity of prayer. For a list of prayers in English and Spanish, visit https://www.crs.org/resource-center/advent-resources-your-parish.
From Catholic Relief Services and