A Guide to Preparing For Advent
The Advent Wreath: http://www.scborromeo.org/prayers/adventwreath.pdf
The Advent Calendar: A surprise calendar - http://bustedhalo.com/features/advent-calendar-2013
The Jesse tree: The Jesse tree tells about Christ’s ancestry through symbols and relates Scripture to salvation history, progressing from creation to the birth of Christ.
Preparing the manger: Whenever a child does acts of service, sacrifice, or kindness in honor of Baby Jesus as a birthday present, the child receives a piece of straw to put into the manger. Then, on Christmas morning, “Baby Jesus” is placed in the manger. Encourage your children to make Jesus’ bed as “comfortable” as possible through their good deeds. In the process, explain Christ’s incomparable self-gift at Christmas and Easter that enables us to be part of God’s family.
St. Nicholas Day: The feast of St. Nicholas is on Dec. 6th. It is a highlight of the Advent season. Each child puts out a shoe the night before St. Nicholas Day in the hope that the kind bishop — with his miter, staff, and bag of gifts — will pay a visit and fill the shoe with candies. The current “Santa Claus” is modeled after St. Nicholas. Many families give gifts on both Dec. 6 and Christmas. Read about St. Nicholas in your favorite saints book.
The Christ candle: Any large white candle can be used for the Christ candle. The idea is to decorate it with symbols for Christ. Use old Christmas cards, sequins, holly, etc. The candle can be lit on Christmas Eve to show that the Light of the World has arrived. Then continue to light the Christ candle throughout the Christmas season (until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord) each night at dinner to remind your family of our continued celebration of His Birth.
The Mary candle: On December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, place a candle with a blue ribbon before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, whose “yes” to God enabled our Lord’s coming at Christmas. The candle is lit during meal times until Christmas to serve as a delightful reminder of Mary’s eager expectation of the “Light of the World.” It can also serve as a reminder to each family member to keep their own light of grace burning as a preparation for Christ’s coming.
St. Lucy cakes: The feast of St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, is on December 13th. This marks the opening of the Christmas season in Sweden. Her life story can be found in most books of saints, as can the recipe for the traditional cakes. The symbolism is rich and her life story worthwhile reading.
The Nativity scene: This is the event in which the entire family shares — setting up the Christmas manger. Mary and Joseph should be far off traveling and their approach to Bethlehem can be adjusted daily. Older children can make life-size Nativity models, carve them, cut them out from cardboard, or set up pre-made figurines. The creative ideas are without limit. Make sure to place the Nativity scene where many can admire the children’s efforts to give God glory.
Blessing – http://www.usccbpublishing.org/client/client_pdfs/creche.pdf
Blessing of the tree:
Blessing – http://www.usccbpublishing.org/client/client_pdfs/xmastree.pdf
Movies: The Nativity Story and Mary of Nazareth
Prayer: Parish evening prayer each Friday of Advent at 6:00pm
The daily Mass readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/
Confession: Parish Penance Service on December 15 at 7:00pm; also available every Wednesday at 5:00-5:30pm and Saturday at 4:00-4:45pm