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First Sunday of Advent – 29th November 2020 – Mums, Dads, Children, Teenagers – Beginning Advent

Why is this important today? Today is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the four weeks we use as Catholics to prepare for Jesus’ birth at Christmas.

What does this mean? Saint John Henry Newman explained Advent in one of his homilies as: “a time of waiting, a time of joy”. And Pope Francis describes Advent as a time of “preparing to welcome not a fairy-tale character, but the God who calls us, involves us, and before whom a choice is imposed”…the choice to believe in Him, love Him, and serve Him

What can we do as a family? We invite you to make your very own Advent wreath as a way of preparing for Christmas. Advent wreaths are circles made out of leaves, with four candles that are lit over the four weeks of Advent as a symbol of the light that the birth of Jesus brings to all of us. Traditionally, an Advent wreath has three purple candles and one pink one, but you can use any colours that you like. And you can light the first candle this week – just once, or each evening as a family.

What we can all do is pray! We invite you to pray this prayer together as a family each time you light the first candle of your Advent wreath.

A special note for First Holy Communion families: This week’s Family Room activity is a good opportunity for you to talk with your children about fasting before receiving Holy Communion. You can explain that, in the same way that we use Advent to prepare us for Jesus being born at Christmas, fasting is something we use to prepare us for receiving Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

Second Sunday of Advent – 6th December 2020 – Mums, Dads, Children, Teenagers – preparing for the Lord with hope

Why is this important today? Our Gospel reading today talks about how we need to “Prepare the way of the Lord”, and our First and Second readings also reflect on being ready for God when He comes.

What does this mean? When we prepare for a special visitor to our homes, we will often clean the house, put on special clothes, and sometimes buy or make something nice – a cake, or biscuits, or other special food. Today’s Readings are about preparing our insides, rather than our outsides – preparing our hearts for Jesus, who will be born on Christmas Day.

What can we do as a family? Have a conversation as a family about how you can prepare for the birth of Jesus. Think about Mary and Joseph, who travelled to Bethlehem, and about how they would have prepared for that long journey with hope for the baby who was to be born. And this week, you can light the second candle of your Advent wreath!

What we can all do is pray! We invite you to pray this prayer together as a family each time you light two candles of your Advent wreath this week. Ask God our Father to bless everyone in your family with hope during this Advent season.

A special note for First Holy Communion families: We encourage you to supplement this week’s Family Room activity with page 102 of the I Belong book with your child (part of Chapter 9, “Do this in memory of me”). Talk together about how receiving First Holy Communion gives each of us “strength for the journey” of our whole lives, and is a sign of God’s great love for us.

Third Sunday of Advent – 13th December 2020 – Mums, Dads, Children, Teenagers – joyfully opening our hearts to Jesus

Why is this important today? Today is the third Sunday of Advent, traditionally known as Gaudete or Rejoicing Sunday. This week, we are invited to consider how this season has helped us “come to realise that so great is Jesus’ love for us that He became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with Him.”

What does this mean? Jesus loved us so much that He chose to born as a human person. Not a rich and powerful person, but a tiny baby, born in a stable and surrounded by farm animals. God’s love and generosity should fill our hearts with joy – the joy we have when we experience something very special.

What can we do as a family? This week, we encourage you to do small things to joyfully prepare for Christmas. Put up your Christmas crib, if you haven’t already done so. Write Christmas cards to your loved ones. Play Christmas hymns in preparation for the birth of Jesus. And talk about how you can share the joy of Christmas with others.

What we can all do is pray! We invite you to pray this prayer together as a family each time you light three candles of your Advent wreath. Ask God to fill the hearts of all your family with joy as you prepare for Christmas.

 


A special note for First Holy Communion families: Chapter 5 of the I Belong book – “Glory to God in the highest” – reflects on the birth of Jesus as the fulfilment of God’s promise to us. When we receive Holy Communion, we are like the shepherds seeing the glory of God. Sometimes we can experience the glory, but sometimes it is hidden. Talk with your child about how special receiving Holy Communion is, as they continue to prepare for the Sacrament.

Fourth Sunday of Advent – 20th December 2020 – Mums, Dads, Children, Teenagers – sharing the peace and goodwill of God with others

Why is this important today? Christmas is now only a few sleeps away!. As we continue our preparations for this Christmas, we remember that it is often described as a “season of peace and goodwill”, and we reflect on how we can share the peace of God with others – to be, like Saint John the Baptist from today’s Gospel reading, “a witness to testify to the light”.

What does this mean? A witness is a person who sees something take place, and who gives testimony – like in court where we have to be truthful. In the context of our Catholic faith, when we witness, we declare our faith in Jesus – not just through our words, but also through our actions. And that means not just talking about the peace and goodwill (kindness) of God, but also acting on His behalf to those around us.

What can we do as a family? Have a conversation as a family about how you can share the peace and goodwill of God with others as you prepare for Christmas. As you put up your crib (if you haven’t already done so), think of what the innkeeper did for Mary and Joseph – he didn’t have room in his inn, but he let them stay in his stable. Think of those who are homeless, or refugees. What can you do for them? You might consider buying a hamper or present for a poor family. Or donating to the Soup Run during the Christmas period. Or donating to Cafod.

What we can all do is pray! We can always pray for others – even those whose names we don’t know. This week, we invite you to pray this prayer together as a family each time you light all four candles of your Advent wreath. Ask God to help your family share His peace and goodwill with others during the Christmas season.

A special note for First Holy Communion families: We encourage you to supplement this week’s Family Room activity with Chapter 11 of the I Belong book, “To love and to serve”. Reflect together on how Holy Communion is a sign of how much Jesus loves us, and consider how you can share His love and peace with those around you.