By Sarah Mac Donald - 02 December, 2013
The online resource is aimed at helping the faithful in their preparations for Christmas.
The new venture was launched on Sunday by Archbishop Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh and Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Communications.
In his statement announcing the launch of the calendar, Archbishop Martin encouraged the faithful, notwithstanding their hectic schedules over the coming weeks, to make time to pray alone and with loved ones and draw nearer to Christ.
“Advent is the season of preparation for the coming of our Lord,” he said.
The word Advent is derived from the Latin ‘ad-venire’ or ‘to come to. It is the Church season encompassing the four Sundays and weekdays leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
The use of the Advent wreath is a traditional practice in the Church to remind the faithful of the penance and preparation which characterise the season.
In his statement, Archbishop Martin said he was “delighted” to launch the new calendar each day of which reveals Advent information and prayer resources by clicking on a virtual numerical door in our online calendar.
“For many years we have provided online resources to assist with Advent preparations, but this year we offer the faithful our novel online calendar for this purpose,” he explained.
Responding to the question of why an Advent calendar is useful, the Archbishop said the season of Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas.
“Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time. As Christians, we must always be prepared for the coming of the Lord as reflected in today’s Gospel reading at Mass, ‘You must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do no not expect’ [Mt 24:37-44].”
“Taken together then, each day of Advent amounts to a period of time which allows us to journey and reflect on ‘the joy of the Gospel’.”
The Archbishop has invited everyone, during the season of Advent, to visit and to enjoy the information provided on the Bishops’ new calendar.
The calendar provides details on:
– Mass readings of the day;
– Excerpts from Pope Francis’s new Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), published on 26 November last;
– Advent videos: blessing of the crib in the home, blessing of the advent wreath in the home, prayer when lighting the lights on the Christmas tree, family table prayer;
– Advent music;
– Information on saints during the Advent such as St Nicholas on 6 December;
– Video and text reflections from Pope Francis and the Irish bishops (The Creed, the Liturgy etc)
– Family prayers (mother and child, children, grandparents, parents and godparents);
– Prayers for the season: for families in need, for those suffering neglect and violence, for Irish emigrants, for those in prison, for those who are sick, for those in difficulty;
– Tweets from individuals, parishes, Irish Church agencies and from the Vatican;
– Resources for Advent and Christmas from Veritas;
– Information on Trócaire’s Global Gifts for 2013 campaign;
– Crosscare’s Dublin Food Bank appeal;
– Work of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul;
– Christmas messages from Irish bishops in preparation for the Nativity of our Lord.
The online Advent calendar can be accessed here: http://www.catholicbishops.ie/advent-calendar/