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November 11, 2009
What Happened to Advent?
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

As Advent approaches, we catechists need to take a serious look at defending the liturgical season that gets lost in the Christmas rush. How can we do that without acting like Ebenezer Scrooge?
—Jeanne Hunt
Consumas Is Here!
In the secular world, “Consumas,” or, if you like, “Hallowthanksmas” is in full swing. This nonstop feasting begins in September and lasts until December 26th. It is all about spending money and has nothing to do with the holy feast from which it began. As catechists we have a tall order to fill as we march to Advent’s “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”
I would suggest that we teach the lesson of waiting for the feast. Fill your classrooms with Advent wreaths and calendars. Try to save gifting and feasting for the days of Christmas. We can explore the beauty of darkness and the wonder of divine light. Share the prophet Isaiah and talk about the O Antiphons. As a voice for God, the catechist must be here to remind everyone that the season of Advent is the necessary prelude to Christmas.
So, my fellow catechists, let us be voices crying out in the wasteland of consumerism that Advent is a time to wait and reflect, a time to clean our houses and prepare for the feasting. You won’t be as popular as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but you will be a only voice of the sacred your children need to hear.
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Purple vs. Red and Green
If the catechist is to be a keeper of the Advent spirit it is very important to allow that purple grace to radiate in your soul. When we walk into the classroom wearing Christmas sweaters, handing out candy canes for the children on December 14th, we are playing right into the hands of the shopping mall. The best way to nurture your own Advent soul is with a little divine discipline.
Here is an Advent workout for all of us: Read something spiritual each day of Advent. I suggest Daily Reflections for Advent 2009, by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. This lectio divina with the daily Mass readings is a great way to stay grounded in Advent’s message. Next, do your best to seek a quiet time every day. Make time to pray, walk, or work without the clamor of that glittery Christmas world. Finally, take time out to be with those you teach, those you love and those who need help. It’s the best way to find that Divine Babe once again.
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Audiobooks for Advent Waiting
During Advent, we wait—counting the Sundays, weeks, and days until Christmas. Few of us are patient waiters. The spirituality of the season is joyful anticipation—and anticipation involves waiting. Most of us think of waiting as passive, but our attitude about the wait—both the process and what we’re waiting for—makes a big difference.
In Henri Nouwen’s book Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit, he includes a chapter called “The Path of Waiting.” He shares examples of biblical figures who waited—Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon and Anna. He holds them up as models for us because of the way they waited. Their waiting was active and faith-filled because they were waiting for something that had already begun for them.
I’ve selected a clip from the audio book Finding My Way Home to share with you (Real Media | Windows Media). This book contains four chapters: "The Path of Power," "The Path of Peace," "The Path of Waiting," and "The Path of Living and Dying." While this book is not specifically an Advent resource, these themes certainly fit well within the season of Advent. Father Nouwen’s theology of downward mobility resonates with the Christian call to be countercultural, particularly during a season that’s so focused on material consumption. It also reminds us that our God “humbled himself to share in our humanity” and was born in a simple stable.
Reflect on a chapter each week of Advent—for your personal preparation for Christmas, with the pastoral staff or a small group. Keep a copy in your parish lending library for year-round use.
Pay attention this Advent. Wait patiently—being present to the presence of God in every moment.
Franciscan Radio
Advent Surprises
Did Mary have a choice to be the mother of Jesus? Could she have said no?
Advent and Christmas offer opportunities to learn more about Mary’s choice. David Mills’ new book Discovering Mary: Answers to Questions about the Mother God answers this question, and many more, in a straightforward format.
The Advent Catholic Update daily reflections promise to fill us with a “Season of Surprises.” Author Kathy Coffey challenges readers, “We were numb and cozy in our safe routines; how will we ever find the time or the resources to do more?” A new daily Advent Catholic Update for parishes to bring a reflective calm into a busy time.
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