Keeping Christ in Christmas: How You Can Help

I have posted a pretty good amount recently about keeping Christmas based on the birth of Jesus. Keeping the Christ in Christmas is an important thing to focus on obviously. I have had some conversations with my fellow blogger Janet, who writes the more parenting centered posts here. Her and I agree that when you have young children it is even harder to keep the focus of Christmas on Christ. This is because they probably go to school and have friends whose parents don’t keep that as the focus. The idea of Santa Claus and presents is much more enticing to a six year old than Jesus and the story of his birth. If you can get your children to focus on Jesus for even a little bit during the Advent and Christmas season, then you are doing a good job.

I read a story yesterday that I thought was really cool, and totally in line with the keeping Christ in Christmas line of thought. A mom bought a tree topper ornament that was Santa and turned it into Saint Nicholas instead. This decoration makeover was simple and easy, you should read about it! It was a thoughtful and really cool idea that I felt was worth sharing.

The History of Advent: Raising Awareness for the Season

We have been in the Advent season for quite some time now. Christmas is almost upon us, however in all the excitement to buy Christmas presents I think people forget to appreciate Advent. It is a time where we await the birth of Christ. I think learning a little bit about the history of Advent would help people to appreciate it more.

I found a post called the 10 things you should know about Advent. It has a lot of information that most people have probably never known about the season. Advent traces its roots back to 380 AD. Saint Gregory the Great gave one of the oldest known Advent sermons. Pope Saint Gregory VII shaped Advent into the four week season that we know now. There is really so much more you can learn from this post as well, so if Advent interests you then check it out!

Celebrating Advent: How to Get the Whole Family Involved

I think the best way to get your family on board with the celebration of Advent is to get an Advent wreath and Advent calendar for your home. Having the calendar in your house is a great way to get kids excited for Advent. Each day a child can open a new window on the calendar and receive a piece of chocolate. The wreath is the more religious of the two, and hopefully if your kids get excited for the calendar you can carry that over for the wreath as well.

If you want to learn about everything involved in having a nice Advent wreath at your house check out this post called, “Reviving Advent” that I found recently. The article goes into how to make your Advent wreath, blessing the Advent wreath, lighting the Advent wreath, and even gives you some ideas for daily Scripture readings that you can use.

How do you celebrate Advent at your home?

How Christmas Has Been Turned Into the Generic “Winter Holiday”

So for the sake of consumerism Christmas has been turned in the generic “winter holiday”. Hooray…wait what are we celebrating for again? It seems like there is a lack of reasoning behind Christmas if it isn’t about the birth of Christ anymore. Are we celebrating winter? That’s a depressing thought. Are we celebrating our families? Nope, that’s Thanksgiving. It’s gotta be the Winter Solstice right? Buying presents because of the shortest day of the year sounds like a stretch.

I read a post on Young, Evangelical, and Catholic today called, “Why losing the War on Christmas is great for the Church (but bad for business)”. It opened my eyes to how generic and stripped down Christmas has become lately. In my eyes the only inspiring way to view Christmas is as the celebration of Christ’s birth, but hey that’s just me.

Advent: Emotions The Season Triggers Internally for Me

Advent should be a time when you feel reawakened. It is a sign that Christmas is coming and that means Christ’s birth. It is also a sign that another calendar year is ending. Have you accomplished what you thought you would? What are your goals for next year? These are the kind of thoughts that run through my mind at this time of year. It seems as though the spirit and happiness of Advent acts as an internal trigger for me as well. It makes me think of what I could do to be a better version of myself next year.

A recent post by The Catholic Writers Guild inspired my thoughts in this post. Their post titled Advent: The Call to Awaken as Catholics and Writers sent the same sort of message out. Advent is a truly special time of year that you should take some time to appreciate.

What does Advent make you feel?

Parenting Tip: Keeping Your Kids Busy This Month

As Christmas approaches the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. That means your kids will be inside a lot more, and with extra excitement as well due to the holiday season. Certainly it is a wonderful thing to see your kids excited for Advent and Christmas, but parents have a lot of things to accomplish around this time of year. Having your kids inside with tons of stored up energy is not totally ideal. Keeping your kids busy with small activities might be the best way to ensure that you still have some time alone to accomplish what you need to.

A recent post on The Mommy Mess talked about 25 Christmas Activities for Kids. A lot of these activities would be great solutions for your children’s excitement this month.

The World’s Best Advent Calendar: Promoting the Work of a Hospital

Every year at home we have some sort of Advent calendar in the house. There have been some homemade ones and some fancier ones that I bought throughout the years, but overall the main idea is just the tradition of having one. I read a pretty awesome story today though about an Advent calendar that is definitely better than any of the ones I have ever had.

A bunch of people who support the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem are teaming up to make an internet Advent calendar this year. The purpose is to encourage people all over the world to learn more about the staff and patients of the hospital. This hospital is apparently located only 500 yards away from what is traditionally considered the birth spot of Jesus Christ.

The group will launch the site within the first few days of December, and it will feature a different video, blog post, picture, or some other form of information every day. They just want to raise awareness for a very important hospital who saves many lives every year.

To learn more about the Advent calendar read this story: Advent Calendar to Promote Work of Bethlehem Hospital

A Priest’s Christmas Wish: Go To Confession During Advent

I recently heard about a story that made me stop and think this world might be alright after all. A local priest from a small parish of about 300 families made a tremendous impact. Typically the priest would receive small gifts from members of the parish during the Christmas season, but made clear he did not want any of those things that year. The priest said that instead of the normal gifts he wanted everybody in the parish to go to confession during Advent. He made more times available for confession and also brought in visiting priests to help him, and the parish responded! He kept track of penitents who hadn’t been to confession in over twenty years, and the number was over 200 people!

I thought that this story, which I read initially on Fr. Z’s blog What Does the Prayer Really Say?, was a true inspiration. Imagine if this happened in more parishes across the country?

Thou Shall Not Steal

Christmas is known as the season of giving, and Advent the time of preparation and anticipation.   But in case you have purchased some Mens Catholic Jewelry or some Catholic Jewelry for Women, you need to also know that this is the season for stealing.  So let’s be careful out there!

And sometimes, theft happens in other forms.  And right under our noses, too.

Everything we post on our sites are copyrighted material.   It says so very clearly at the bottom of every single page of our website.  So it burns us up when we see our material lifted 100% from our site and posted elsewhere.  When you swipe copyrighted content from an employer’s website, well, that is also stealing too.   We thought grown-ups would know that.

So, in the spirit of Advent, PREPARE FOR and ANTICIPATE the cease and desist letter you WILL be getting from our attorney.

And Joy to the World.

Seeking Advent Patience

The following comes from Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas – Waiting in Joyful Hope 2011-2012 by Jay Cormier which is published each year by Liturgical Press.

I was given this little “pocket book” as an Advent gift by the Deacon that runs our Scripture class each week. This book is such a lovely way to focus on Advent and the waiting for Christmas. Each day you’re given the readings, a theme from the scripture is then reflected upon. Following the reflection Mr. Cormier provides questions to ponder (meditation) and finishes with a prayer for each day.

This little booklet has helped me in my daily prayer life as he helps you dig a little deeper into the readings for each day. Rather than try to give you the jist of the book I’ll give you a snapshot of Friday, December 9th in the Second Week of Advent. I chose this day as it touches on our daily hectic lives and how we can better accept Advent as a time of preparation and waiting.

Readings: Isaiah 48:17-19; Matthew 11:16-19

Scripture: “(W)isdom is vindicated by her works.” (Matthew 11:19)

Reflection: We are not a very patient people. We can’t spare the time to stop and catch our breath. Quiet unnerves us; silence is a sure sigh that something is wrong; reflection and thoughtfulness are luxuries. We do not live in the moment–we live in the next moment.

We need to be constantly connected, online, and plugged in.
We are terrified of being bored.
We are in a constant hurry–and yet we do not get very far.
We struggle to walk between the austere, demanding John at the Jordan and the Jesus who welcomes and forgives all.
Too often we let our fears and doube3ts, our cynicism and fatalism, affect our decision making. We are defeated by what is not rather than inspired by what could be.
For all our technology, we are disconnected.
For all our global outreach, we know little beyond our own little plot of earth.
For all our education, we fail to realize what is good and right in our midst.

Advent calls us to patience– not patience that passively accepts without complaint whatever disappoints us, but patience that is certain in the hope of better things to come. In criticizing the fickleness of this “generations,” Jesus points out that wisdom begins with such patience: to stop, to reflect, to see what is hidden, to listen with the heart. These days of Advent are a microcosm of our lives, revealing to us the preciousness of time and confronting us with our mortality. May these days teach us to realize the sacred in our lives, to behold God’s love in the midst of our family and friends, to embrace the patience of Advent in order to see our lives and work through the eyes of God.

Meditation: What issues and concerns most test your patience? Reconsider how you respond and how you view the situation in question.

Prayer: Lord of Advent, may your wisdom illuminate our eyes and open our hearts to behold your presence in our midst. Help us to embrace the grace of Advent patience, that we may stop and behold your compassion and mercy in our days and transform our lives in the peace and hope of your dawning at Christmas.

If you are like me, the observation that some of us consider silence as a sign of something being wrong hit a chord. I am becoming more aware of the blessing of silence in that you can find peace and be open to what God could be trying to tell you if you (me) would be quiet and listen. That’s something I truly am working on this Advent. I no longer need to be talking or “plugged in” every moment that I’m awake.

I hope you enjoy this Advent Reflections as much as I have. Please share any books that you use to help with your daily prayer.

Cathi D.