Friday, December 14, 2012

A Prayer To the Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents, you died before you were old enough to know what life means, pray for all children who die young that God may gather them into His loving arms.

Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love.

Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love.

Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them.

Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope.

Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us that one day we may join you there to bask in God’s love forever.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Second Week of Advent - Video Reflection

Here's the second week's video reflection from the University of Notre Dame.  The author this time is a student.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Week of Advent - Video Reflection

For the past few years, the University of Notre Dame has released a series of video reflections to coincide with Advent.  Below is the video for the First Week of Advent.  May it help us be patient and learn to wait!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent at St. Mark, Vienna, VA

Below are some Advent events at St. Mark you may be interested in:

  • Sunday, December 2: Youth & Family Mass, 6:00pm in the Church
  • Friday, December 7: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Vigil Mass; 7:30pm in the Church
  • Saturday, December 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Masses at 8:00am and 11:00am in the Church.
  • Saturday, December 8: Ticket Distribution for 3:45pm AND 6:00pm Christmas Eve Masses; 10:00am in the Activities Center
  • Wednesday, December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mass at 7:30pm in Church; Fiesta in Activities Center afterward
  • Saturday, December 15: First Penance celebration, 11:00am in the Church
  • Thursday, December 20: Advent Taize Prayer, 7:30pm in the Chapel; Blessing of the Creche afterward
  • Sunday, December 23: Advent Parish Penance Service, 7:00pm in the Church.
image credit: aharden on flickr

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Four Family Advent Ideas

Wondering how you can celebrate Advent in your home? Here are four ideas for your family to use this Advent.

Use an Advent Calendar
A custom, non-chocolate Advent calendar
Advent is a season of waiting in joyful, expectant hope.  An Advent calendar helps pass on this idea by creating a time of day everyone looks forward to because something that's hidden becomes seen.  Many calendars in department stores feature chocolate treats (and everyone looks forward to chocolate treats).  There are even wacky, specialized Advent calendars you can buy, like the Lego calendar, for those with a particular interest.

Another approach is to create your own calendar as a family.  Buy a reusable Advent calendar online or create one yourself using 24 small containers (one for each day from December 2 to Christmas).  Inside the containers, write and place one small activity for your family to do together

Simple Creche
Set Up a Creche
At the manger scene, you can gather each night for prayer. An old, but good, custom is to invite your children to place one piece of straw in the cradle for good deeds they or the family did that day. The more good deeds, the softer the cradle becomes for Jesus. My family has a tradition of placing baby Jesus in the cradle when we come back from Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve.  Do that, or create your own tradition.

Pray with an Advent Wreath
Advent wreath
Light candles corresponding to the candles lit at Mass on Sundays and pray around the wreath each Sunday (here's a guide for praying with the Advent wreath on Sundays) and/or each day during your normal family prayer time.  After you assemble your Advent wreath, say a few words of blessing as a family.  Use the family Advent wreath blessing from Loyola Press or this blessing from our own US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Make a Jesse Tree
Jesse tree in progress
What is a Jesse tree?  The Diocese of Eerie explains:
In the month before Christmas, the church anticipates the coming of Jesus through readings that span from the Old Testament creation story through Jesus’ birth. Jesse, for whom the tree is named, is the first person in the genealogy of Jesus. At the top of this family tree are Mary and Jesus. Depicted in church windows and artwork for hundreds of years, this visual tree of life may even have been a forerunner of today’s Christmas tree.
Simply put, the Jesse tree is sort of like an Advent calendar, except biblical.  It's a way to pray through the stories from the Old Testament to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus.
To create a Jesse tree, you can follow the instructions on the Diocese of Eerie webpage, or from a blog called Catholic Style.  Those links also have instructions for praying with the Jesse tree.

image credits: Patrick Q on flickr; Jose M. Vazquez; usedcarspecialist on flickr; Silly Eagle Books on flickr

What's Advent About?

Advent is the first season in the liturgical year.  It's meant to help us focus on Jesus' coming.  It's a season of waiting, preparing, hope, praying, and joy.  Watch this two-minute video for more information: