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User's Guide to Sunday, Nov. 27
BY Tom and April Hoopes
Sunday, Nov. 27, is the First Sunday in Advent (Year B, Cycle II).
Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37
This Sunday the Church calls us to celebrate Advent. Here is our Advent checklist for families:
Confess. “Watch and pray!” says Jesus in the Gospel. There is no better way to do this than confession. Take your whole family to confession on the way to get your Christmas tree or to go Christmas shopping.
Serve the Poor. Before you give gifts to your family, give gifts to the poor. Teach your children that that’s what Christians do. With the prevalence of toy drives and holiday-food collections, it’s the perfect time of year to be generous.
Pray! Gather around the crèche, pass out rosaries, and recommit yourself to the daily Rosary. To add interest: Use the figures around the crèche to illustrate the mysteries. You have an angel and Mary for the Annunciation; turn the crèche around to serve as a house for the Visitation scene; use shepherds for Simeon and rabbis for the Presentation and Finding. If a shepherd or Joseph plays Jesus, you can do the Sorrowful Mystery, too. The crèche could also be a tomb or a hill or a hall for the Luminous and Glorious Mysteries.
EWTN. EWTN offers a number of resources for Advent, from prayers around the wreath to the Jesse Tree. Find ideas at EWTN.com/devotionals/advent.
Holy Heroes. We love Holy Heroes for taking the stress out of special family devotions. Follow the “Advent Adventure” to get a fun daily lesson on the season, and find other resources like their “Glory Stories,” Rosary CDs and Jesse Tree DVD, all at HolyHeroes.com.
Advent Movies. Reinforce the meaning of the season with movies about repentance and reform. Our favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), A Christmas Carol (we like the excellent 1984 George C. Scott version), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and The Little Drummer Boy (1968).
Advent Gift Box. The Advent Gift Box is our own Advent tradition. We keep our Christmas tree bare until Gaudete Sunday (Advent Week 3). But we put a gift box under it with a removable lid. Each morning we pray: “We want to make Christmas last all year, so each morning we kneel beside the Christmas tree with Jesus. He has gifts for each of us under the tree.”
Then we open the box, and each of us picks out a slip of paper. We pray: “This morning, I humbly accept the gifts you have given me, Jesus. Thank you for my time, my things, my talents and my family. During this day, please help me find ways I can give each of these gifts back to you by giving them to others” (of course, you can use any of these ideas for different ages or come up with your own):
God gave me the gift of food, shelter and clothing. Today, I will give that gift back to him by: no complaining between meals (little kids), offering up a sacrifice during a meal (big kids), and setting aside food to give away (adults).
God gave me the gift of my family. Today, I will give that gift back to him by: playing nicely with a sibling (little kids), complimenting each of my family members (big kids), and spending some special time with my kids (adults).
God gave me the gift of my faith. Today, I will give that gift back to him by: saying a Hail Mary at the Advent wreath (little kids), writing a letter to Jesus to put in the manger (big kids), and meditating on the Gospel (adults).
God gave me the gift of my health. Today, I will give that gift back to him by: offering up a special treat (little kids), offering up dessert or TV time (big kids), and exercising or taking a walk (adults).
God gave me the gift of my country and peace. Today, I will give that gift back to him by: praying for our troops (little kids), finding Afghanistan or Iraq on a map (big kids), and reading a story about sacrifice to kids, such as the Book of Virtues (adults).
God gave me the gift of my community. Today, I will give that gift back to him by: praying for the firefighters or police (little kids), saying “thank you” to my teacher, and bringing food or clothing for donation (adults).
God gave me the gift of priests and religious. Today, I will give that gift back to him by: learning what priests do for us (little kids), writing to a priest or religious (big kids), and making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament (adults).
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.