Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
A Clip & Save Advent reflection

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the Dec. 7, 2006 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell Gathering the family to light the Advent wreath offers any number of delights. This simple celebration helps anchor the family in the true meaning of Christmas. It brings the family together providing quiet respite from holiday bustle. Lighting candles adds a shine to the darkness of long winter days. The ritual becomes a tradition binding family members through generations and to the wider church.

Use the framework below to plan your advent wreath celebrations.

First Sunday of Advent
Luke 21:34-36
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life…. Be vigilant….”

Reflection: The Lord knows we have daily anxieties. I picture vigilance as standing guard, perhaps like a soldier with a sword, poised to stop any anxieties before they take root and grow.

A better image might be the vigilance of a loving mother. Seeing any sign of anxiety, she pulls the child onto her lap and cuddles her. She asks the child what the trouble is, listens, acknowledges, and tries to put herself in the child’s place.  She may see the fear as needless, but doesn’t ridicule or minimize. Rather a loving mother comforts the child and accepts her feelings. Can we be a loving mother to our own anxious selves? 

Action: Ask younger children what they fear. Listen, not talking them out of their feelings. With older children discuss images of “being vigilant.”  God made us with negative feelings like anxiety as well as positive feelings like joy. What purpose might negative feelings serve?

Second Sunday of Advent
Philippians 1:8-11
“My prayer is that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that … you may learn to value the things that really matter….”

Reflection: We hear much about values: family values, moral values, Catholic values, cultural values, personal values. What values do you think Jesus believes really matter? Paul prays that people’s love will more and more abound. How would that look in your family? Parish? City?

Action: Every day this week, do at least one thing that flows from your abounding love.

Third Sunday of Advent
Luke 3:10-18
“Let the one with two coats give to the one who has none. The ones with food shall do the same.”

Reflection: Opportunities to give food and clothing inundate us Thanksgiving through Christmas. The spirit of giving feels good and generosity flows. Pope Pius XI reminded the faithful, “Charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into account. Let no one attempt with small gifts of charity to exempt themselves from the great duties of justice.” What is the difference between charity and justice?  Why do you think the Church teaches both are important?

Action: Brainstorm how your family might keep the holiday spirit of generosity throughout the year. With older children discuss how you might promote justice as well. Choose one action and commit to it.

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Luke 1:39-45
“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Reflection: Scripture from Genesis to Revelation tells the story of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. Mary of Nazareth is an example of one who proved faithful in return. There are times in the Gospels where it may have appeared that God’s promises to Mary might not be fulfilled. And yet, Mary had faith even through the torture and killing of her son. What are God’s promises to us? Does God’s faithfulness mean bad things won’t happen?  How can we help one another keep faith in God’s promises?

Action: For younger children, read the story of Noah’s ark. Talk about God’s promise to Noah and his family. Give examples of promises we make to others.

For older children ask family members to share any of God’s promises that are hard to trust right now. Allow sharing without comment or interruption. Ask how family members might help one another “hang in there” when trusting is hard.

© 2006 Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and children's writer. For more about the Advent wreath, visit, and check her book Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, available from St. Anthony Messenger Press.)

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