Advent is a beautiful time of year. But for those of us attempting to live the liturgical year in our homes (at least a bit) it can be a tricky season to get right. Sometimes it feels like whatever we are doing is somehow not enough and too much all at the same time.
A couple years back, I detailed EXACTLY what we do for Advent in our home:
But exactly how we do it might not work for you. So this year, I want to share the ideas behind our traditions, so hopefully you can find a way to make Advent work in your family, and also let you know about some really great resources, that just might help make it happen.
1. Don’t Christmas Yet
This is the key, I think. However you handle Advent in your home, it should feel different than Christmas. For us, we have different decorations for Advent, and we have different music, and we avoid specifically Christmas TV and movies and treats.
We have family traditions that are unique to Advent and different than Christmas, that way, we’re not sick of Christmas before it’s even arrived.
It’s all very counter-cultural, but my kids are on board. We make sure they understand that even though almost everyone else is doing Christmas now, TIERNEYS wait until Christmas actually arrives to do Christmas. This is because TIERNEYS respect the natural order of things and are awesome.
2. Pray and Prepare
Advent isn’t Lent, but it really is like Lent in a lot of ways. It should feel like a time of preparation. Many of us will be preparing our homes to receive guests at Christmas, which is a great way to focus, but even if no one is coming over, Advent is a great time for sprucing up the house.
More importantly, it’s a great time for focusing on adding a bit more prayer to your family’s daily routine.
The Christmas Anticipation Prayer, or St. Andrew’s Prayer, is traditionally recited fifteen times per day from the Feast of St. Andrew on November 30th, until Christmas.
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
Our family does a Christmas Novena. Many families do a Jesse Tree.
Maybe you’re just starting out with family prayer. Advent would be a great time to just try adding an Our Father to your bedtime routine. AND maybe one Christmas Anticipation Prayer? That “in the piercing cold” part always makes me shiver.
3. Have a Plan, and Be Flexible
Real life very often gets in the way of liturgical living. And real life is particularly invasive around the holidays. Party invitations, extra work and school commitments, out of town visitors, or out of town visiting, can all throw a wrench in our best intentions for a calm and recollected Advent.
If you’re traveling and staying with family, and scheduling and traditions aren’t yours to set, it really might not be possible to avoid a full on Christmas blitz before the big day arrives.
And that’s okay.
We have lots of family traditions
and set plans for how we’ll observe Advent. I know we won’t always get
to all of them every day or even every year, but they are still worth
having and trying. Even a little Advent is better than none at all.
And when we are in someone else’s home, we just focus on being gracious guests. I’m pretty sure that’s how Mary would handle it.
Now, here are a few resources to help you live a prayerful Advent in your home. And because it’s the season of giving, I get to give one of each away to you guys. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me something you plan to do in your home for Advent, and which of these resources might be useful to you.
Written and illustrated for your entire family, this softcover book explains Catholic traditions and feast days that we celebrate throughout the seasons of Advent and Christmas. For the rest of the year, there’s Gifts From Our Father, a guide for families through the liturgical year, great for couples
figuring out how to teach their children about the faith, the Saints and
how to pray.
Nell, Whole Parenting Family, Laura, Mothering Spirit, and Nancy, Do Small Things with Love,
have come together to make this great bundle: a Scripture study, a
companion journal, and a lectio devina bookmark you can keep in your
Here’s the gist of the study:
Each week of Advent tackles a different comment challenge we face
this time of year: Materialism, Loneliness, Fear and Despair. It is our
hope that through this study and the Holy Scripture, God will show you a
better way and move your heart to Generosity, Communion, Love and Joy.
They even have a Facebook group you can join to walk through the season with other moms.
You can purchase this great Advent collection of goodness by clicking through to here.
Thirteen months will get you from this Advent straight through to the next!
– monthly view includes Catholic liturgical year feasts and seasonal dates as determined by the USCCB
– weekly view includes scripture readings for Sundays and holy days of obligation under the Roman Rite Catholic Church
– weekly view includes psalm quotes for each week from that Sunday’s psalm reading
In our Advent 2015 Reflection + Journal, we give you the daily
readings listed out, reflections by Audrey Assad, and space for you to
journal to truly make it your own.
Prepare the way this season.
I’ve shared Nancy’s cross stitch patterns before, and I love them all. This one comes as a single PDF. All 10 characters are on the same
pattern, but you could easily split this up and create several different
round ornaments for your Christmas tree–one with the Holy Family, one
of the Shepherds, one of the kings and one for each angel. There are
lots of possibilities here.
You can probably see it in the image above, but there is an
inscription at the bottom of this pattern. It is Luke 2:11 and read,
“Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you, he is Christ
This digital book contains everything you need to add the Jesse Tree to your own family’s Advent- just add the tree! Included are a brief description and history of the Jesse Tree, supplies list, Bible readings for each day, and 24 3-D printable Jesse Tree ornaments- one for each day of December leading up to Christmas (in B&W and digitally colored versions)!
For each day there is a two page spread containing the title of the person/event, their symbol, a difficulty rating for the craft activity, an approximate amount of time to assemble, the Bible reading for that day and step by step instructions for assembling your 3-D ornament.
Use the coupon code catholicallyear to get 30% off anything in the shop through December 31st!
I’m so excited about this project because is something my (and your) family can enjoy without hours of laborious crafting. That’s right, print it, color it and either set it all up as a full
Nativity set right away or add one piece each day of Advent.
You can get the entire 24 page PDF ready to be printed and colored HERE for $5.
This printable eBook contains over 80 pages of detailed ornament
templates, daily scripture readings (with links to full text),
devotions, coloring pages, and family-friendly activities inspired by
the scripture to help your family count down the days of Advent in a
spiritual way. At the end of the book you’ll find instructions with
photos on how to create the felt tree.
Advent is a time for preparation, this advent take time as a couple to reflect on the daily gospel readings. This devotional offers you daily reflections, contemplations, and prayers for every day of advent. Begin a journey of praying as a couple, and enrich your faith life this advent.
I’ve gotten requests to make some Advent printables, so here ya go . . .
Whew! That’s all of it. Please leave a comment sharing something you plan to do to keep Advent this year, and which (any or all) of these Advent resources would help you do it. Winners will be announced ON THE BLOG on Friday.
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