To mark the beginning of Advent yesterday, Archbishop Eamon Martin launched a specially commissioned Advent calendar. The first day of Advent heralds the beginning of the Catholic Church’s new year.
Archbishop Eamon said, “I am delighted to launch our new Advent calendar which each day up to Christmas Eve will reveal Advent information and prayer resources by clicking on a virtual numerical door in our online calendar. For many years we have provided online resources to assist with our Advent preparations, but this year we offer the faithful our novel online calendar for this purpose.
“Why is the Advent calendar useful? Preparation does not happen at once but over time. The season of Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas. Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time. As Christians, we must always be prepared for the coming of the Lord as reflected in today’s Gospel reading at Mass, ‘You must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do no not expect’ [Mt 24:37-44]. Taken together then, each day of Advent amounts to a period of time which allows us to journey and reflect on ‘the joy of the Gospel’.
Archbishop Eamon continued, “As we begin our Catholic new year, I invite everyone during the Advent season to visit and to enjoy the information provided on our online calendar, which will provide details on:
– Mass readings of the day;
– Pope Francis’s new Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), published on 26 November last, will be promoted using excerpts from it;
– Advent videos: blessing of the crib in the home, blessing of the advent wreath in the home, prayer when lighting the lights on the Christmas tree, family table prayer;
– Advent music;
– information on saints during the Advent such as Saint Nicholas on 6 December;
– video and text reflections from Pope Francis and Irish bishops (The Creed, The Liturgy etc)
– family prayers (mother and child, children, grandparents, parents and godparents);
– prayers for the season: for families in need, for those suffering neglect and violence, for Irish emigrants, for those in prison, for those who are sick, for those in difficulty;
– Tweets from individuals, parishes, Irish Church agencies and from the Vatican;
– resources for Advent and Christmas from Veritas;
– Trócaire Global Gifts for 2013 information campaign;
– Crosscare’s Dublin Food Bank appeal;
– work of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul; and
– Christmas messages from Irish bishops in preparation for the Nativity of our Lord.
Archbishop Eamon concluded, “As Advent is the season of preparation for the coming of our Lord, I encourage the faithful, notwithstanding our hectic schedule over the coming weeks, to make time to pray – alone and with loved ones – and by so doing to draw nearer to Christ.”
The online Advent calendar can be accessed here: http://www.catholicbishops.ie/advent-calendar/