Advent has begun. Most years, it comes much sooner than I expect. This year is no exception. We have four complete weeks of Advent because Christmas is on a Sunday. This is the longest kind of Advent we can have. More time to prepare for the Lord. That is ok with me!
Here are some Advent traditions my family will continue this year:
- Jesse Tree every night, using the Beginner’s Bible and Catholic Children’s Bible
- Advent Wreath every night
- Put up a Nativity Set
- Participate in the Holy Heroes Advent Adventures with the kids
- Have a manger set-up and the children put a string in the manger as they make small sacrifices for Jesus; on Christmas Eve, then the string will be used as a bed for Jesus
- Celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6
- Attend mass on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
- Celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Go to confession
- Put up a Christmas tree about 1-2 weeks before Christmas, depending on time
- Attend mass on Christmas Eve
As a wise spiritual director once told me, it is good to come up with a plan for Advent where you can have concrete goals for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Here are the “secret” praying, fasting, and almsgiving goals my family has for Advent. I don’t usually share them (they just don’t come up with conversation), but I hope they can be an inspiration for you as you plan your Advent.
- Prayer: Each day during the school week, try to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with the children using the Relevant Radio app. It takes less than 10-minutes and it’s a beautiful way to re-center at 3pm. After the chaplet, then we do an examination of conscience (sharing with God things that we are sorry that we did wrong that day and want to do better, and sharing with God the good things we did for Him that day).
- Fasting: I hesitate to put this one in writing because I likely will not be able to do it! I would love to bring my children to daily mass, or at least stop by a church to pray, every week day. I had meant to start it this week…but it’s Thursday, and we still haven’t gone. Never the less, Jesus knows that I am a work in progress and I want to be closer to Him. I want to bring my children closer to Him. Maybe instead of having a goal of mass every day, I should revise my goal and set it as the following: attend daily mass ten times during Advent (in addition to mass on Sundays). I am listing this goal under “fasting” because it will be fasting from time spent doing other things, in order to spend time at Mass, loving God and worshiping Him.
- Almsgiving: Give each child cash to use at the grocery store to purchase food items to donate to a local food pantry.
- Almsgiving: Donate a toy for a toy collection to a local children’s hospital that a college student pro-life group is organizing at my husband’s college.
- Almsgiving: There is a little girl that a friend of a friend knows who has cystic fibrosis. She is getting a lung transplant in December sometime. There is a page for donations to help the family with living expenses because they have to travel out of state. I am hoping to set up a jar for the children to make donations into it, and then for my husband and me to make a donation, too.
I would love to come up with one more act of service to help others. I’ll have to pray about that. It would be nice to volunteer somewhere. Let me know if you have ideas!
If you have never celebrated Advent, I would encourage you to start small. Maybe you could set just four goals and stick with them. Maybe use an Advent wreath every night, read a Bible passage every day, make a good confession, and make a donation to a charity. Over time, you will find Advent traditions that you find most important to your family.