Advent is a season of grace in the life of the Church and in our own personal lives and the life of our family. It is the appointed time to draw near to God as a family. Advent as a time of joyful anticipation for the coming of Jesus should be a family affair.
We can make Christmas more meaningful especially for our children by engaging in certain Christian practices that will focus on Jesus and rekindle in the hearts of all family members a deeper love for Him. These Christian practices will not only help make our Christmas preparation and celebration more meaningful this year but will also bind joyfully together the entire family, setting a Christian tradition that hopefully will be passed down to the third and fourth generations of BCBP families.
The circular wreath symbolizes the everlasting nature of God. He has no beginning and no end. |The four candles stand for the four weeks of Advent. The light from the candles represents Christ as the Light of the world. The three purple candles show that Advent is a time of repentance. The pink candle which is lighted on the third Sunday or “Laetare” Sunday reminds us to rejoice for Christ, our Saviour, is coming soon.
The family lights the first candle on November 27, the first Sunday of Advent this year, and everyday of that week before dinner time. Advent prayers, or the Scripture passage for the day, or the Reflection for the day in the Word Among Us, Companion, The Anawim Way, or other liturgical guides, can be read. On the second Sunday, two candles are lighted, and so on. The Advent wreath can be a daily reminder to the family of the sentiments of the Church during the Advent season.
Setting Up The Belen
The Christmas tree has become traditional in many Filipino homes. However, no Catholic home and, for that matter, no BCBP home should be without a Belen. The whole family can help set up the Belen at one time or in stages. On the first Sunday the stable and the empty manger can be set up. The animals, the shepherds and the angels can be added on succeeding Sundays. On Christmas Eve, the family in a procession brings the figures of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to the manger scene. The three kings can appear on the feast of the Three Kings.
Warming The Manger
Each day every member of the family can place straw or strips of paper in the empty crib to represent their offerings to the Christ Child. Each straw or strip of paper represents a particular offering like a rosary, Christmas prayer, Holy Mass, visit to the Blessed Sacrament, sacrifices, visits to the sick, alms for the poor, good deeds at home, in school or in the office, giving up smoking, the movies or TV. The more straw and strips of paper in the manger, the warmer the Christ Child will be when He comes.
Advent Banner or Poster
The family may cut out letters from felt paper/cloth and glue them on a board, felt, cartolina or illustration board. Suggested words are: “Maranatha!”, “Come, Lord Jesus!”, “Rejoice”, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!”. This banner poster may be hung in a conspicuous place in the house. Better yet, make several banners, one for each family room.
Packages For The Poor
The whole family can go shopping and put goodies in a plastic bag ready for needy neighbors, orphanages, etc. Don’t just give the gift packs, talk for a while with the receiver to let them know that you and your family cares.
Receiving The Sacraments As A Family
Going to confession and being reconciled with God and others, and participating in Holy Mass as a family is particularly pleasing to the Infant Jesus not only at Christmas time but on every possible occasion throughout the year.
MAY GOD BLESS OUR FAMILIES WITH THE GRACE OF ADVENT AND THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS!
Edited and reprinted from an article in the KAPATIRAN, Dec-Jan 1993, authored by Rose Padre, BCBP Alabang.