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.

Stewardship is Not a Competition

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

chess-603624_1280

As everyday stewards, I hope that each of us tries to live daily lives of generosity for the glory of God. I hope that we are all working to cultivate characteristics of a good everyday steward so that we can grow in maturity of faith and draw closer to Christ. But if we could accurately see on a magical computer spreadsheet how everyone else around us was living life would it impact how we lived out our stewardship way of life? If we found out that others weren’t trying as hard as we were or they were not nearly as generous as we would it give us reason to pause?

In the workplace, school, and general life, people can easily look around and choose to adapt what they are doing to match more closely what others are doing. Why give work more hours if no one else is willing? Why give a 20% tip to a waiter if you suspect everyone else is only giving 15%? Why spend hours studying for a test when no one else is taking it that seriously?

Our lives of stewardship should never be measured against that of others. Even though we are all called to give all we are and all we have to God, each one of us is unique in our response to that call. Instead of any type of comparison that may temper our generosity, we should hold to the truth that the more we give of ourselves the more fulfilled we will feel. Also, as we grow in our relationship with God, the more we will want to glorify him. Stewardship is not a competition. It is a call to serve a God without counting the cost.