It’s no secret that Advent will look different this year than in years past. Take advantage of the extra time at home with your family to intentionally prepare your hearts for the birth of Christ. Below are four ways to celebrate Advent in your home.
We are in the midst of a season that compels us to express our gratitude, and, as Catholics, we are always called to give gratitude to God, especially as we participate in the celebration of the Eucharist. In Scripture, St. Paul exhorts us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18), to give thanks always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20).
In Catholic parishes, the sacraments give rhythm to our lives, along with the days, weeks, months, and years of the liturgical calendar. Yet, even as the liturgical calendar punctuates our daily lives, the forward movement of time can feel deeply impersonal. Parish life, however, offers ways of accompanying universal experiences—even ones as complicated as death and grief—with tender rituals and personal touches. Throughout the month of November, we focus on death and grief as common human experiences through which God and parish companion us. Ministers and fellow parishioners accompany each other through moments that matter, even when those moments are hard.
One of the most captivating stories in the Gospel to me has always been Jesus calling Peter out of the fishing boat, inviting Peter to join him on the rough seas in the middle of a storm (Matthew 14:22–33). The same way the Apostles find themselves on the boat, waiting and watching, lay ministers around the nation are waiting and watching to see what will happen with the Church in the coming months. There have been many phrases—“in this together,” “unprecedented,” or “brick-and-mortar”—that we never really thought we would use in such a way as we do now. The word that I have meditated and prayed with throughout these months—and the driving theme of my Faith Formation team at St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Houston, Texas—has been “opportunity.” Although we have been intimidated these past months by crashing waves, howling winds, and loud thunder, there is an opportunity unlike any other, one that we are being called to walk toward together.
Pastoral creativity is an intentional process that begins with prayer and reflection guiding you to identify a community of concern. Listening with compassion to the members of that community leads you to ponder what you learn in light of the Catholic imagination. The fruits of these movements are put into action through creative pastoral response to the needs you encounter.