Welcome to the First week of Advent! What is the real meaning of Advent? What can you do as an individual or community for Advent?
Here are some great ideas to help bring our families into a deeper experience of ADVENT and truly celebrate the reason for the season.
Advent prayers from Fr. Gerry:
The Advent Wreath
The Advent wreaths a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity. Set on the branches of the Advent wreath are four candles; 3 purple candles and one pink candle. A more modern tradition is to place a white candle in the center of the wreath. As a whole, the candles represent the coming of the light of Christ into the world.
Each week of Advent on Sunday, a particular Advent is lit. Catholic tradition states that the four candles, representing the four weeks of Advent, each stand for one thousand years, to total the 4,000 years from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of our savior.
On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ.
The leader prays:
"Stir O'Lord,Your might, we pray you come, that defended by YOU, we may deserve rescue from approaching dangers brought on by our sins, and being set free by you, obtain our salvation. Who lives and reigns, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen"
This first candle represents hope or expectations the coming Messiah.
The Bethlehem Candle
On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the "Bethlehem Candle,"symbolizing Christ's manger.
The Leader prays: "Stir up our hearts O' Lord, to prepare the ways of your only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be worthy to serve you with purified minds. Who lives and reigns, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, word without end. Amen"
The Shepherds Candle
On the third Sunday of Advent the pink or rose colored candle is lit. The pink candle is primarily called, "the Shepherd's Candle, and it represents JOY."
The Leader prays: " Incline your ear to our prayers O' Lord, we beseech you; and make bright the darkness of our minds by the grace of your visitation. Who lives and reigns, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen"
The Angels Candle
The fourth and last purple candle, often called the "Angels Candle" represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.
The Leader prays: "Stir, O' Lord, your might, we beseech You, and come and with your great power come to our aid, that by the help of your grace, that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by your merciful forgiveness. Who lives and reigns, with God the Father , in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.Amen"
On Christmas Eve, the white candle is lit. This candle is called the Christ Candle. and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world. The color white represents purity, Christ is the sinless, spotless,pure Savior. Those who receive Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and are made whiter than snow.
Music is a profound way to pray but we can’t forget the value of silence. Here is one more worship song to pray for ADVENT.
For Families with children k-6:
For Kids in grades k- 5:
For Kids in grades 6-7:
What do you know about ADVENT? What traditions does your family have during this time? How do you remember the true meaning of the season?
So.......... after watching those videos-who are YOU waiting for? How will you be ready for ADVENT? Some ideas to help... one way is to find ways to use the gifts that God has given you to help others.......for a example click the link below.
For YOUTH in Grade 8-12:
It's the first Sunday in Advent.... Let's remember what this is really all about.. Not even a pandemic can stop us form preparing the way.
I invite you to pray for a special experience of Advent in your heart this year. Pray for God to help you see all the ways that even in the middle of new challenges facing each of us that we receive the gifts that Jesus has for us , if only we accept him to work miracles that we can't even expect. Behold the wonder and grace that is born of every day and especially in a heart that is open to Jesus finding a home in you.
This week's scriptures are some of my favorite passages. In the first reading from Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17 we are reminded of God's care for all his people, even the ones that are away from him. The passage mentions sheep and the tender care of the shepherd.
The responsorial psalm is perhaps the the most widely committed to memory.... Psalm 23 "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want." The Second reading is from 1 Corinthians 15:20-26,28. This passage should give us reassurance that God sees it all and will handle all of it with justice, mercy and love. The Gospel is from Matthew 25:31-46. This is when Jesus discusses the when the Son of Man will come in his glory... as Christ the King sitting on a throne with angels at his side. We will have to account for our actions on earth. Jesus calls people who have ministered to the people of the earth saying whatsoever you did to the least, you have also done to me. When we take actions to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, or visit the in prisoned we are doing this to and for Christ.
We can probably all agree that the year 2020 has been challenging but packed with opportunity to serve each other. There are many ways we can serve the people around us. Pray that God opens your eyes to the needs so you can act.
A classic song mediation ," Whatsoever you do" hits home the idea that every action we take towards others... is what we take towards God. Something to remember.
From Fr Gerry to everyone:
Thanksgiving Day Blessing:
In the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
We gather today to give thanks to God for his gifts to this land and its people, For God has been generous to us. As we ask God's blessing upon the food we will share with our families, may we be mindful of those in need.
Response: I will give thanks, O Lord with all my heart.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth;
In the presence of angels I will sing your praise:
I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name.
Response: I will give thanks, O Lord with all my heart.
Because of your kindness and your truth; for you have made great above all things your name and promise.
When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me.
Response: I will give thanks O Lord with all my heart
All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth;
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord:
"Great is the glory of the Lord."
Response: I will give you thanks, O Lord with all my heart.
Prayer of Blessing:
God most provident, we join all creation in raising to you a hymn of Thanksgiving through Jesus Christ your son.
For generation upon generation peoples of the land have sung of your bounty; we too offer praise for the rich harvest we have received with grateful hearts.
Continue to make our land fruitful and let our love for you be seen in our pursuit of peace and justice in our generous response to those in need.
Praise and glory to you, now and forever. Amen.
May each of us enjoy healthy and happy "Thanksgiving."
Family Activities for THANKSGIVING:
For the young kids:
Children Grades k- 4:
This week we celebrate Christ the King of the Universe! In the Gospel we hear that what ever we do to others we do to Christ. So how we treat others is very important. When we help others, we help Jesus.
When we are mean to others, we are mean to Jesus.
For Grades 5-7:
This Week's Gospel emphasizes how important our actions are as followers of Christ. Jesus says whatsoever you do to others that you do unto me. What we do matters. Would you ever be bully to Christ? Would you ever not help Christ if you saw him carrying a stack of books and struggling to open a door? Whenever you help someone, it is as if you are helping Christ. Whenever you are unkind to someone it is as if you are unkind to Christ.
Watch the video below and discuss who was like Christ and who was not.
Actions often speak louder than words. Kindness and compassion can be contagious. How can you start a chain reaction of kindness? What would the world look like if everyone was treated as if they were Christ in disguise?
For Grades 8-12:
This week's message is full. It has so much in it for us to reflect on. Here are some key thoughts... Jesus is like a shepherd. We are the sheep who follow him but sometimes get lost. Our actions count. What we do and say matters. What we do and say to others is what we do and say to Christ the King!
Jesus gave us many clues how to follow him.... he taught us that service to others is key. What kinds of service can you do during this pandemic? How can you help your family, your neighbors, your community, and the world? What would Jesus do?
One last thought on the impact of our actions........YOU ARE A CHILD GOD, let your actions reflect this truth. When you fall and you will, begin again.
Happy Thanksgiving..... remember it is the simple things in life that remind us... Let this be your prayer this week.
In this week's Gospel , Jesus is sharing the parable of the landowner that gives his servants "talents" and some go to good use and multiply and some are hidden and do not. He is pleased with the servants that make good use of what has been given to them and they show their gratitude by helping it grow. The servant that keeps it to himself does not please the landowner. We could say at least he didn't lose it, but the landowner gave to him so he could make something out of what was given.
Bishop Barron gives us food for thought on what Jesus was actually trying to teach us.
Worship has the ability to lift our prayer, change our moods and help us to remember that we are not alone. I love the prayer in the following song by Matt Maher. I hope it touches you as well.
For Children k- 4th grade:
This week Jesus reminds us that we all have been given different talents and gifts. He wants us to find ways to grow our gifts and share with others what God has given to us. He does not want us to hide them and keep them for only ourselves.
For GRADES 5-7:
This week the Gospel gets us to think about all the gifts and talents that God has given us. Take a moment to name and claim 3 gifts you recognize that you have been given. Some people find this hard. (If that is you , ask your parents). Sometimes we don’t always know what they are yet. Ask God,in your prayers, to reveal them to to you.
This week’s prayer:
THANK YOU for blessing us in so many ways. THANK YOU for your love and forgiveness. Lord, this week, help us to recognize and use our gifts for your glory. Please reveal to us things that we might be missing. We know you made us all unique and for a special purpose.
Help us to trust in your plan. Show us how to make good use of your gifts to build heaven on earth.
For Grades8-12 :
This week’s focus is on our gifts and talents. God has given us so much and we should be grateful for all God’s goodness and blessings. How do we show God we are GRATEFUL?
Some people start a gratitude journal taking time each day to pick out things they are grateful for in their lives. Try it and you will see how your perspective changes. Take time to thank God for the big and small gifts. If you are struggling to find your gifts, ask God to help you to recognize them. A challenge ..... take time this week to recognize the gifts God has given others and tell that person you have noticed that they have a gift for whatever it is that you notice. Be sincere.
For all the Star Wars fans.... remember when Rey was discovering her gifts with the Force. Here is a clip from her training scene. It reminds us how each of have gifts within us but sometimes we need to put time and effort into it. God gives us these gifts always to use for good. May we find,develop and strengthen our gifts so that we too can make the world a better place. May God be with us!
This Week's Gospel is Matthew 25:1-13. Jesus shares the parable of the 10 virgins waiting for the Bridegroom with the lanterns. Five were prepared for his arrival with lamps that were ready with oil to light the way. Five were not prepared and their lamps were empty of oil. He took the five that prepared to the wedding feast. The last line in the passage is "Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know the day nor the hour."
This is a reminder to all of us. We will never know when God will call us home. We need to be living our lives ready and not take things or people forgranted. The following is a reflection written by Fr. Gaetano Piccolo.
For those who have had the experience of keeping watch over a sick person through the night, especially if it was a very close loved one, you know what it means to fight off sleep. You do everything in your power to stay awake; you use every ounce of strength; you draw on all your resource, but even so you fall asleep, perhaps only briefly, moments that escape your control. The same happens in life: though we try with all our might to stay alert, sometimes we just fall asleep.
We fall asleep out of tiredness or out of distrust. We fall asleep because we are disappointed or because we don’t want to see the truth of things around us. We fall asleep because we are superficial or because we have lost the courage to hold out a little longer.
This passage of the Gospel describes the sleepiness that spreads through the community that tires of waiting for the Bridegroom. It should be a night of celebration and joy because He that we have been waiting for is finally returning: the Bridegroom, the one that brings the fullness of life. But instead, the night becomes frustrating: things don’t happen as we had hoped. God doesn’t work according to our schedule and the Bridegroom does not arrive when we want him to.
According to the parable, everyone falls asleep: both the wise virgins and the foolish ones. It is as if to say that falling asleep is inevitable, a fact of life. It is not avoiding sleep that differentiates the wise from the foolish.
The parable centers on different symbols: the lamp and the oil. They are common symbols throughout the Bible. The lamp reminds us of Jesus’ invitation to be the light of the world, that the lamp cannot be hidden under a bushel. It reminds us that life should not be wasted and that we can’t hide from life. It also reminds us of the City on a Hill that shines for the wayfarers, so that they can see their goal, just as our lives should shine for others and help them find their way.
The ten virgins with their lamps especially remind us of the community invited to dance for joy and celebrate the coming of the Bridegroom. It is the symbol of the Church called to wait joyfully for the coming of Christ. This symbol could remind us of the Jewish interpretation of the chorus of virgins in the Song of Songs: the disciples that carry the light of the Law (the Torah) and keep watch for the Messiah.
The lamp however needs oil to continue to shine: it is the oil used to keep watch for and welcome the Bridegroom, the oil of welcoming. But oil is also what the Good Samaritan uses to heal the wounds of the man beaten down by life. And above all, oil is what is used to anoint and consecrate the Messiah, He for whom our hearts continuously hope.
Therefore, oil is the symbol of very deep and very personal gestures. Perhaps it is for this reason the foolish virgins have little luck at the marketplace. There are things in life that we must do alone, things that no one else can do for us. There are situations that we must be prepared for because there won’t be another opportunity.
What is the difference then between the foolish virgins and the wise ones? It’s not in their ability to stay awake but in how they’ve prepared their lamps. Sometimes our lamp can even go out but if we know how to light it again and to use it, in dark times we will know what to do.
The problem of the foolish virgins is not sleepiness but something more fundamental. The never took care of the lamp that they were given. The Bridegroom even says that he does not know them. In their lives they have never cared about the Bridegroom and that is why they are unprepared now.
In the middle of the night, even in the deepest darkness, a cry of joy will wake us. The night cannot last forever; the Bridegroom will return. Do not put your lamps away in a closet but have them on hand and lit, even if the world says that it’s foolish and pointless.
Questions for personal reflection:
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
This Reflection was written by Fr. Gaetano Piccolo
This week's prayer......
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank you for all the blessings you have bestowed on us. Help us to live lives awake and ready for your glory. Help us to remember to keep our lamps filled with oil so we will always shine in the darkness and point to you.
In the name of Jesus we pray.
For Children k-3rd grade:
This week's lesson is about being prepared. The video below is loaded with adorable songs and a very important lesson for the young and old!!
For Grades 4-7:
This week's lesson is about remembering to be ready for when Jesus comes to meet us. The following video is a modern version of the the Gospel this week. The Bridesmaids did not have flash lights and batteries but lamps with oil....(LOL) Questions to discuss:
How is my family keeping ready?
How am I keeping ready?
What does it mean to be ready?
For Grades 8- 12:
If you play a sport, play an instrument, or schoolwork, you need to have a sense of being prepared. You want to be ready for the game, the concert or the test. We are always willing to be prepared for things that are important by doing our best.
This week's Gospel is about being prepared for the day when we meet Jesus face to face. He tells a parable bout some bridesmaids waiting for a bridegroom. ( the bridegroom is actually Jesus)
We do not know the day or the time but we hope to be ready. We hope to be at our best. We hope to be living a good and holy life.
Jesus knows when we are doing our best. Do we help each other do our best? Do we encourage one another? The following video is taken from a Lenten reflection but the message reigns true for any time of the year. Let's all work on being prepared.
The song below has lyrics that touch on what we can do while we are waiting. I know that all of us are waiting on this period of covid to be over as well. It isn't an easy time. Just close your eyes and let this be a prayer.