Fun Advent Activities and Resources for Your Family

Posted on November 24, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Advent is that time of year where we long for the coming of our Lord, the arrival of something and someone bigger than ourselves.

As we enter into Advent this coming Sunday, here are some ways to celebrate and enjoy the gift of the season:

Activities for Families

  • OrnamentsRead the Christmas story in the Bible together as a family and ask everyone to talk about what the gift of Jesus means to them.
  • Visit a “live” Nativity scene and talk about how incredible it is that God came to us as a baby to save the world.
  • Write a letter together to troops stationed overseas wishing them a Merry Christmas.
  • Print and download these Advent saint ornaments and use them to decorate your tree. Click here.
  • Serve a meal together at your local homeless shelter.

Ways to Serve

  • Get a group together and go Christmas caroling at a retirement home. Ask the residents to join and spend time visiting with them afterwards.
  • Chances are that there are organizations in your town that take meals out to the homeless. Find one near you and volunteer to cook or deliver a meal.
  • Donate or volunteer with an organization like Angel Tree or Salvation Army that provides gifts and aid to the less fortunate during the holidays.

Free Printable Advent Calendars

  • Advent CalendarThis Nazareth to Bethlehem Advent Calendar serves as a great reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Click here and print one for your family.
  • This Advent Calendar lets you create your own activities for each day, which keep you focused on celebrating all Advent long. Click here for print and assembly instructions.
  • This Advent Calendar features simple, beautiful, red and white designs, and can be filled with activities and treats. Click here for print and assembly instructions.
  • Need more ideas? Click here for thirty more Advent Calendar ideas to inspire you.

Follow our Advent Activities Pinterest Board for more ideas all month long!

The Greatest Solace

Posted on November 24, 2015 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, November 29, 2015, 1st Sunday of Advent

Anxious young woman watches from airplane seat.

Advent is traditionally the time of anticipation, of breathless wonder and waiting. It’s a season, right now, perfectly attuned to our times.

As I write this, Belgium is anxious and on alert for a possible terrorist attack. Presidential candidates are stoking fears. Airlines are on edge again and again.

I can’t help but think the Gospel we encounter this Sunday could speak to us here and now:

“Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Yet, almost as a soothing counterpoint, comes this heartfelt message of hope from St. Paul:

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love
for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts.

The good people of Thessalonica to whom Paul was writing had their own troubles, and their own age of anxiety; they waited with joyful hope for Christ’s imminent return, while struggling to keep the young Christian faith alive in a time of persecution. Yet Paul’s advice to them is a wisdom that transcends the ages: “increase and abound in love.” In a time of uncertainty or even fear, the greatest solace, and greatest prescription, remains Christian love for one another.

So it could be for our time, too-and for the time of Advent. This season traditionally brings its added pressures and problems-Shopping! Baking! Family stress!-and the words from Paul can be a blessed balm. Don’t flinch from love; increase and abound in it. Seek opportunities to grow in holiness. Put simply, “Conduct yourselves to please God.” All else, really, is a distraction.

It’s all a distraction that can turn our hearts toward fear and away from the true essence and meaning of this season: making ourselves ready to welcome Christ at Christmas. In these coming weeks, we need to keep our eyes on the prize-the presence of God in our world in the astonishing act of Incarnation, a gesture of humility and hope that transformed the world.

Of all the things we may find ourselves waiting for this Advent, that is really the only one that matters.

Dcn. Greg Kandra

PRAYER

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Blessing of an Advent Wreath from Catholic Household Blessings.

Download PDF

There Is But One King! (and it’s not me)

Posted on November 24, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

KingThere is almost too much going on with all the Advent devotions and practices that seem to take a back seat to shopping and preparing for the gift giving traditions of Christmas. After all, Black Friday starts on Thanksgiving in the retail stores and has already started online.

In the midst of all our preparation and celebration let us turn to the one who gives life through the sacrifice of love–Jesus.

Click here to read the full post

If I Was King for Just One Day

Posted on November 19, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

KingIt would be kind of awesome to be a king or queen! Absolute rule, untold wealth, and people answering your every beck and call are things that wouldn’t be half bad. Of course, I would be a benevolent monarch and I would hope that all my subjects would love me. They could cheer me as a came out of the palace and I think my popularity ratings in the polls would be through the roof

Click here to read the full post

Getting Connected

Posted on November 18, 2015 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Getting Connected

Technology has become the medium in how we primarily communicate with each other. For many parishes, what is the norm for society in general isnt necessarily the modus operandi for passing on information to its parishioners. Using technology is a paradigm shift from the way things have always been done.

Download the full article and learn how to use technology best practices to communicate with your parishioners.

Download Full Article

Stewardship of the Mouth

Posted on November 17, 2015 by - Everyday Stewardship

wordsWhen I replay the events of the day in my head, my biggest regrets seem to be the unguarded moments when I offered an opinion or comment that was not necessary and could have possibly caused confusion or pain.  Why did I need to say that?  Did any good come of it? Or, was it something that needed to be said but I simply said it at the wrong time?

Click here to read the full post

My Son Needs His King

Posted on November 17, 2015 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, November 22, 2015, Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Painting of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the UniverseI suspect the events of the past week might have many people longing for a world that does not exist. My youngest child no longer feels that he is safe from the reach of terrorists. He has been to professional sporting events and concerts with me before and I suspect that he felt then that I would be able to take charge of any circumstance that might threaten him. But as he said to me the day after the Paris attacks, “That could be us at a concert or a game.” Innocence is gone. The beast is awake and men and women of good will must now be watchful, for the enemy could be anywhere. However, the beast is not new and even though my son now sees the world differently, the world has not fundamentally changed.

Since the fall in the Garden, evil has been among us. History is a tapestry filled with scenes of tremendous violence and hatred of human beings toward one another. Every century has brought with it those who have caused the young to dream nightmares and worry about the events of each new day. The events in Paris remind us of the fallen nature of humankind, even when the killing is done in the name of God. Evil speaks in lies about the nature of God and a fallen creation suspects that the lies may be true. This tapestry of world history would be a monotonous chain of events that could make a person doubt the very meaning of life, as many philosophers have done throughout the ages, if it were not for the single most significant event on that tapestry: the Incarnation and then death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

On that night in France, terror seemed to reign, but the reality is that the terror caused by humans is no match for the love of Jesus Christ. This Sunday our liturgical year closes as we honor Jesus Christ as King of the Universe. We are reminded that God became man and then chose to be broken by the world so that the world would have no power to break his adopted sons and daughters, the best of his creation. Then he rose from the dead and broke all the chains of death that could bind us. Today and every day he reigns as King of all creation, regardless of what evil and the humans that choose it believe to the contrary.

But what does this mean to my twelve-year-old? He is still too young to understand the implications of Jesus Christ as King. So, we who call ourselves disciples of Jesus must show him. We must love in the face of hate, bring peace to those who have witnessed violence, and speak of life in the midst of death. However, for too long we have been mild mannered or even silent. There are some today that blame all religion for heinous crimes because the actions were performed in the name of a God they believe does not exist. We perhaps have failed to convince them of the true God in Jesus Christ due to either misled words or actions or, more importantly, lack of action. This does not mean we are to blame for the evil of these types of terrorist attacks. But we need to proclaim clearly and powerfully the good news so that hope never takes a backseat to fear.

Pope Francis stands as a powerful witness to the kingdom of heaven in our midst, but he must be a leader of those who increasingly act more like him. The world needs more people like Pope Francis, Blessed Mother Teresa, Dorothy Day, and the like. We should not be saying, “Look how Christ-like they were,” but instead, “I need to be more like them.” We have a King and we have received a great commission. His kingdom is threatened once again by the forces of evil. We must rise up and fortify the kingdom using prayer, love, and the gifts of the Spirit as our weapons. My son needs for this to happen. His community, the body of Christ, will provide him with the consolation he seeks. And he will flourish in the midst of chaos for he will know he is a child of the King.

Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

PRAYER

Almighty, everlasting God,
Who in Thy beloved Son,
King of the whole world,
hast willed to restore all things anew;
grant in Thy Mercy that all the families of nations,
rent asunder by the wound of sin,
may be subjected to His most gentle rule.
Who with Thee lives and reigns world without end.
Amen.
—Prayer to Jesus Christ the King from the Litany of Christ the King.

Download PDF