Prepare for Christmas by observing Advent. Traditions that help with this preparation are prayers and songs, Advent wreaths and Jesse trees.
We prepare our hearts for Our Lord’s tri-fold coming during this season:
That is why the focus in the liturgy during the first couple weeks are on Our Lord’s second coming.
The best way to prepare your heart during Advent is to do penance and pray. Besides fasting, another powerful form of penance is tending to your daily duties. This can be particularly difficult during this unavoidably commercialized time of year.
Keeping the feast after the fast in mind, remember to be joyful and an example of Christ’s love to all your friends, acquaintances, and relatives. The early Christians made converts because the pagans were impressed by their love. You need to be the type of person that makes others want to share in your joy and peace.
How do you do this? Pray, pray, pray! Pray the Rosary
everyday. Ask for graces. Meditate on the Gospels. Embrace the
inconveniences and sufferings in your life and unite them to Our Lord’s
cross. Imitate Holy Mary and ask her to be your mother.
Drown out the distractions of this world through prayer and spiritual reading. Turn off the news. Play games with your family. Get outdoors. All these things will help you focus on the important things in this life: saving your soul and the souls of those God has put in your path.
Spread some joy this Advent and Christmas season.
Be joyful, patient and loving while you keep your eye on the prize: Heaven!
The following prayers are taken from the collect from the Traditional Mass for the first, second, third and fourth Sundays during Advent collectively.
Father: O Lord, stir up Thy power, we beg Thee, and come, that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and be saved by Thy deliverance. Through Christ our Lord.
Father: O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare the ways of Thine only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with purified minds. Through Christ our Lord.
Father: O Lord, we beseech Thee, incline Thine ear to our prayers and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Through Christ our Lord.
Father: O Lord, we beseech Thee, stir up Thy power and come; and with great might deliver us, that with the help of Thy grace, Thy merciful forgiveness may hasten what our sins impede. Through Christ our Lord.
O Wisdom, Who didst come out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.
O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the Law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.
O Root of Jesse, Who dost stand for an ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall keep silence, and unto Whom the Gentiles shall make their supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not.
O Key of David and Scepter of the house of Israel, Who dost open and no man doth shut, Who dost shut and no man doth open, come and bring forth from his prison house the captive that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O Dawn of the East, Brightness of the Light Eternal and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of them, Thou Cornerstone that dost make both one, come and deliver man, whom Thou didst form out of the dust of the earth.
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the Nations and their Savior, come to save us, O Lord our God.
An Advent Wreath is by far the most common and popular Advent tradition. They are made of evergreens and four candles, three purple and one pink.
The evergreens symbolize the eternal life Jesus promised. They are formed into a circular wreath signifying the eternity of God Who had no beginning. He always was and always will be.
The purple candles represent penance while the pink candle symbolizes joy and is lit on the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday.
On the first week, it is customary for the youngest child to light the first purple candle. Followed by the oldest child lighting the first and second purple candles on week two. The mother lights the first two purple candles and the pink candle on the third week. While the father lights all four candles on the fourth and final week.
Prayers for each week are written above and come from the gradual of the Mass during that particular Sunday's Mass.
The Jesse Tree is another popular symbol used during this season. It is an Advent calendar of sorts which incorporates ornaments and scripture verses. Rich in meaning, make it a part of your Christmas traditions and learning about the Jesse Tree here...
The four weeks of Advent are set apart by the Church to commemorate the ages that intervened between the fall of our first of our first parents and the birth of Christ which we celebrate at Christmas.
It is a Season of special prayer and penance mingled with joyful expectation, and calculated to prepare our souls for a worthy keeping of this great solemnity.
Advent is also the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, and as each succeeding year brings us closer to the Second Coming of Christ as Judge of the world, this holy time is likewise intended to make us ready to meet our Judge.
Such preparation is best achieved by seeking sanctification through voluntary amendment of life, acts of penance, and works of charity.
Do not let this time to grow in holiness pass you by!
Consider the following categories on what we should do for Advent this year.
Give up those things that need to go sooner or later, namely bad habits.Our goal here is to learn to love our souls more than our bodies...to break a bad habit forever and Advent is a good time to do it.
Examples: Gossiping, surfing the web without real need, watching T.V., overeating, eating between meals, eating and drinking junk foods (e.g., soda), bad drinking habits, complaining, saying vulgar words, not getting up on time, using a snooze alarm, wasting time playing video games, going to movies, listening to base music, useless chattering on facebook, blogs, and the like, etc.
In this category I am going to give up_________________.
Perform some kind of penance. Our goal here is to train ourselves to say “no” in little things so that we can say “NO” to big temptations later. We can resume doing the things given up here once Advent is over.
Examples: Avoid eating or drinking something that we enjoy, such as desserts. Give up eating out, taking completely warm showers, drinking alcoholic beverages.
In this category I am going to give up________________________.
Perform some good and holy actions. Our goal here is to strengthen our relationship with Christ and His Church. Ideally, what we start here would continue in some way even after Advent is over. Love God more than yourself!
Examples: Pray the Rosary everyday, attend daily Mass as much as possible, read the Sacred Scriptures _____ minutes a day, spend ________ additional time everyday with my family, read a life of a saint or saints, increase spiritual reading in place of electronic media, make a daily visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament or shrine of Our Lady.
In this category I am going to_________________________.
This checklist is found on ReginaProphetarum.com in the mission materials section of their website and is reprinted here with permission from the author.
Put a manger on your family altar. Next to this altar place some sacrificial straw (real or paper). As children make sacrifices they can place a piece of straw in the crib so the baby Jesus will have a soft place to lay when He is placed there on Christmas.
Reading about St. Therese and her little way may be helpful in teaching children how to make small sacrifices.
The feasts of St. Nicholas and the Immaculate Conception, both occurring during Advent, are occasions to encourage a spirit of self denial in children.
Check out our Christmas activities page here to learn how to observe this holy season during the days following Christmas.
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