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:
Be prepared for Advent: A clip-and-save plan

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the Dec. 6, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell Be prepared. The Boy Scout motto does not only refer to coping with emergencies. The founder of the Scouts wanted young people to be ready in mind and body, and to meet challenges with a strong heart.

Advent calls us to similar preparedness. To run the gauntlet of consumer Christmas commotion, and focus our families on the deeper joy of Christís presence, we must make a plan. We must consciously take time to set our mind on the meaning of Jesusí birth, take care of our body, and nourish our heart and soul.

Here is a family plan for Advent. Iíve provided activities and reflection points for you, based on the Advent Sunday Scriptures. Set aside time each week for these activities with your children, or pick one of the themes and focus on it throughout Advent.

First Sunday of Advent: Romans 13:11-14, Isaiah 2-1-5

Themes: Now is the moment for you to wake from sleep. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Beat swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning hooks.

With small children, take the opportunity as you dress them to talk about waking up each morning and putting on Jesusí love like we put on our clothing. With older children, reflect and talk about how we might be sleeping Christians, and what it means to wake up and put on Christ. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. Ask family members to list swords and spears in family life, such as criticism, borrowing without permission or slacking oneís responsibilities. In the opposite column list how these can be turned in something helpful like a pruning hook. Post the lists on the refrigerator.

Second Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72, Romans 15:4-9

Themes: One is coming who will change all things. Justice and peace shall flourish. Live in harmony and welcome one another.

Talk with each other about what these scripture verses mean. Make a family banner proclaiming them in words or images. Use materials that suit your family resources and talents, such as: paper and crayons, felt cut and glued to a felt background, cloth and fabric paint, glitter or other various craft items. Hang the banner in your home where it can be a reminder to put these words into action.

Third Sunday of Advent: Matthew 11:2-11, Isaiah 35-1-6, 10

Themes: John the Baptist asks: ďAre you the One who is to come?Ē See the signs that the Lord has come.

Reflect on the evidence around you that Jesus has come. How can these signs strengthen our faith? Have your children name ways they see the presence of God. Write these on slips of paper and tape on toothpicks to make small flags. Bake a batch of bar cookies. Check my website for Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Christmas Bars. When they come out of the oven stick the flags in them. Each cookie will be a sweet reminder that Jesus is with you.

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Matthew 1:18-24

Theme: The young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and he shall be called Emmanuel.

Each child born is filled with the Spirit of God. Like Jesus, many babies are born in humble circumstances: homeless with few material goods, perhaps the object of scorn or their lives in danger. Ask your children to contribute some of their allowance or spending money to a charity that helps children. Or take them shopping to pick out a gift for a needy child or teenage mom.

Lighting an Advent Wreath is a beautiful and fun tradition that helps us remember this is a holy time of year. The lighted candles draw us to prayer and beckon us to rest in the hope of God. Choose a time to gather as a family around your wreath, pray, and share a simple meal and conversation. You may find this a convenient time to read the Sunday scriptures aloud and try the above activities.

© 2007, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and childrenís writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. For more on the Advent wreath and other holiday activities and recipes, and to contact her, visit www.marycronkfarrell.com)


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