4 Tips to Prepare Your Catholic Parish for Advent

ADVENT-VESPERS-2

Advent begins December 3 this year and it will be here before we know it! Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas, but it can only be fruitful if we spend some time preparing for the preparation. Here are just 4 things we can do now to ensure that on the first Sunday of Advent our parishes and our people are ready.

  1. Prepare to treat the First Sunday of Advent as the first Sunday of an entire liturgical year in the Church.      

Too often we get so caught up in the idea of Advent that we minimize the fact that we are starting a new year with a new cycle of readings, feasts, and solemnities. We need to catechize our people about the cycles of the Lectionary. We can also decide to make some subtle changes in the worship space that will not only last a season, but entire year. By providing a focus on the new liturgical year, we also help people see Advent truly as a new beginning. Advent is a time to prepare to let Jesus be born in us anew. What is past is now past. Let us move forward boldly and enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ. 

  1. Schedule many simple devotional events along with the larger seasonal ones.

Most churches have special events for Advent and many of them are for prayer. By also providing many simple opportunities like praying the rosary or holy hours with Adoration, we can encourage people to join us with Advent as the reason, but then they may continue these devotions into the New Year. Use the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe as reasons to focus some Marian-themed devotions around the dates.

  1. Preach & catechize about good stewardship in all aspects of life.

Many people spend too much and are more frivolous during this season. Some take on a debt that they will be paying off for many months. Also, it is very easy to overcommit our time or get caught up in a race toward Christmas. Good stewardship living extends into all aspects of our life. We need to be good stewards of all the gifts given to us by God. Catechizing people about good stewardship principles and reminding them of the pitfalls during this time of year can be rather important, especially before the season comes and it is too late for some.

  1. Suggest to your parishioners to take the Everyday Stewardship Advent Challenge.

Every day of Advent there will be an Everyday Stewardship reflection that springs from the daily readings, followed by the Advent Daily Challenge. The challenges will range in their level of difficulty, but will all attempt to lead us into a greater stewardship way of life. It is a great way to stay focused on what matter the most during Advent: Jesus. Visit our Advent Reflections page to sign up.

Prayer is Presence

with God

I don’t think I am giving away anything to say that Knights of Columbus are supposed to always carry with them a rosary. Even before I became a Knight, often I would carry a rosary with me. Like most good habits, at times I would slowly become oblivious and forget to have it with me. Many weeks and months of carrying it in my pocket would give way to a couple weeks of wondering where it went. To stick with any practice you have to be intentional and mindful of what you are doing.

A good prayer life requires commitment. Carrying a rosary isn’t really prayer, because the prayers are not being said. However, a rosary or other religious article does serve as a reminder of who we are and to whom we belong. A prayer life should not be one where we simply seek to recite words, but one where we walk in the presence of God at all times. Prayer is about presence.

An everyday steward will find success in cultivating a prayer life by inviting God into all aspects and moments of the day. Recited prayer throughout the day serves as the formal ritual part of our relationship with God. In all relationships we have standard things we say to each other about love, our needs, and our hopes for that person. It is what takes place between the words that sometimes makes the difference.