It’s time to develop an Advent plan for success! It’s easy to think that our journey through Advent is about finding the right gifts for our loved ones, but the fact is, Advent is a liturgical season that prepares us for Christmas. We’ll soon be welcoming the Christ child into our hearts and homes so here are some tips on how to have a wonderful Advent!
Mark your Calendar
You don’t want to miss out on what God has instore for you this Advent season. If you’re anything like me, Advent can creep up on you and before you know it, it’s Christmas morning! Christmas is such a blessing for all Christians around the world, but it requires preparation on many different levels.
Take a look at these dates. The season feels like a roller coaster of celebrations because there is much to celebrate! By marking your calendar now and establishing when you will attend Mass and where, you are building a map to success!
- November 24 – Thanksgiving ( notice how quickly we need to transition to Advent?)
- November 25 – Black Friday (if you want to start shopping)
- November 27 – First Sunday of Advent
- November 30 – The Start of the St. Andrew’s Novena which ends Dec. 24th
- December 4 – Second Sunday of Advent
- December 6 – Feast of St. Nicholas (It’s not a Holy Day, but a great day of tradition and this year, it falls on a Tuesday.)
- December 8 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception (It’s a Holy Day of Obligation.)
- December 11 – Third Sunday of Advent
- December 13 – Feast of St. Lucy (This is not a Holy Day, but it’s a fun, European, traditional holiday to celebrate with the children.)
- December 18 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
- December 24 – Christmas Eve
- December 25 – Christmas (It’s a Holy Day of Obligation.)
- January 1, 2017 – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (This is also a Holy Day of Obligation.)
As moms, we need to develop a strategy for a successful Advent, beginning with practical spirituality. There are many things we like to do, like decorating the house inside and outside, mailing out Christmas cards, handing out gifts to neighbors and friends and preparing for Christmas morning and the many yummy meals we like to enjoy.
Advent can turn into one big to-do list to prepare for Christ’s birth instead of being a holy season of preparation. Here are some practical ways to grow spiritually as a family.
- Advent Wreath – Where are your Advent candles? Do you need to buy new ones? This ligerical tool is a great way to build consistency between what is happening at Church and at home. Our homes can be referred to as the Domestic Church, a place where we live out the faith in our day to day lives. My advice is, don’t be “cheap” with how often you light these candles. Consider lighting them at mealtimes or when you pray as a family. This wreath is a reminder that Christ is the light of the world and that we are preparing for a great celebration.
- Spiritual Reading – Take time out to prepare your soul for this holiday. One book that was a quick read, but very inspiring is the book Gifts of the Visitation. It’s about the nine spiritual gifts we can gain from this powerful encounter between Elizabeth and the Blessed Mother. The author Denise Bossert does a wonderful job helping mothers to reflect on the births of their own children and gain spiritual insight from this Rosary mystery. As I read the book, I desired to be more of a spontaneous, courageous, joyful, ready, humble kind of mom! Find a good book that can help you grow in love with your Catholic Faith.
- Scripture – Fill your soul with the word of God by making it your goal to visit www.catholicmom.com daily or blessedisshe.net during Advent. Read the daily scripture and connect with other moms or women like yourself trying to live out this holy season in a secular world.
- Cookies, treats and sweets – I tuck these treats away in the back of my freezer starting around Halloween. The kids don’t miss the extra, extra candy and I can use it to fill in for gingerbread houses, cookie decorating, stocking stuffers (if I am desperate) and the feast of St. Nicholas. Make sure and plan some extra fun, with cookie decorating and gingerbread houses!
Decorating and House Keeping: Purge and Reset for the Lord
Stuff has a place in the celebrations but we need to remember that these things must point to the reason for the season. With that in mind consider donating extra toys, clothing and items that might be cluttering up your home. If you spent 15 minutes a day cleaning out and preparing your home for Christ, you will be better prepared for Christmas!
St. Andrew Novena – This is my family’s favorite prayer. It’s quick to say, and a great way to prepare for Christmas. This Novena Starts on November 30 and ends on Christmas Eve, this prayer is said 15 times a day.. It’s a powerful way to prepare your heart for Christmas as the words so effectively remind us as of the incarnation of Christ.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment In which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
[here mention your request]
through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
The Works of Mercy Can Be Fun!
Plan it and budget for it. When we put our mind to bringing joy and merriment to others, it will happen! Let’s be honest: the Christmas Season is more fun when we think of others! The same thing is true with practicing the Works of Mercy. Consider scheduling good deeds you can do for others during Advent. How about collecting money for your Mercy Jar to give to a local Catholic Mission or packaging Mercy Bags to hand out at a local Catholic Shelter? You could also pick out a child in need from your local parish’s Giving Tree mission. The easiest work of mercy is when we provide “mercy in the mail” by sending others words of encouragement, Mass cards or gift cards.
In a secular world that is having a hard time remembering why we celebrate Christmas, may our families bring the light of Christ others and our simple yet humble celebrations remind us that Christ is the Reason for the Season. We can find true joy in practicing our Catholic faith. Check out this free download at www.divinemercyformoms.com and peruse the site for other ways to practice these works of Mercy and grow in God’s love.