Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to focus on the Season of Advent. For so many we get caught up in the parties, shopping and the overall Christmas rush. Our Catholic faith teaches us though, that our focus should be on reflecting on the coming of Christ into the world and what that means for our individual spirituality.
Advent is a time of accompaniment with Christ through our four week journey to Christmas day. When employing the five things every parish should post strategy this season is ripe with possibilities.
Let’s start with the saints who celebrate a feast, memorial or solemnity in December. The main Feasts of Advent are St. Francis Xavier (December 3), St. John Damascene, (December 4), St. Nicholas(December 6), St. Ambrose (December 7), Immaculate Conception (December 8) A Holy Day of Obligation, St. Juan Diego (December 9), St. Damascus (December 11), Our Lady of Guadalupe(December 12), St. Lucy (December 13), St. John of the Cross (December 14) and St. Peter Canisius (December 21), St. John of Kanty (December 23)
After Advent there are still three more saints to reflect on in the month of December St. Stephen (December 26), St. John the Evangelist (December 27), St. Thomas Becket (December 29).
Sharing a livestream of the Pope celebrating Christmas Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Square from the official Vatican News, USCCB, or EWTN Facebook pages is a great piece of content to spark engagement. With the time difference for instance in California the Holy City will be celebrating Midnight Mass at 3pm my time and 6pm EST. Having your pastor, associate priests or deacons share messages about what they do during Advent is a great way to inspire members of the parish to reflect on the true reason for the season. Maybe each week one can share a message focused on one of the traditional themes, hope, faith, joy or peace.
There are a variety of resources available to share content from to provide followers with daily devotionals to reflect on during the journey to Christmas. One of my favorites is the Best Advent Ever series from Dynamic Catholic.
Courtesy: Dynamic Catholic Website
Many parishes share a little blue book to help parishioners to focus daily on a message that strengthens their relationship with Christ. The USCCB offers an online Advent Calendar that shares a daily reading, reflection, prayer and an action that can be shared with your followers. Loyola press has a plethora of resources to share from family activities to reflections for the season. You can create a daily graphic with a custom message from your pastor or create a daily video message like my pastor at my parish American Martyrs Church.
Courtesy: American Martyrs Catholic Community
Sharing behind the scenes of the way your parish decorates the liturgical environment should be captured in pictures or video. These kinds of posts create anticipation of the Christmas celebration. Of course the most liturgical environment decoration is the Advent wreath and each candle that will be lit each week of the season should be shared on your pages. It is also a wonderful way to involve members who want to be a part of the decorating ministry. There are many aspects of the preparations for Christmas that happen at a parish, like the change in priests vestment colors from Green to Purple. The placement of Christmas trees in the sanctuary, nativity scene or exterior decorations. Choir practice for the annual Christmas performances or school Christmas play preparations.
The parish community will experience a number of seasonal events that should be shared too. First and foremost is the schedule for Christmas Eve and Day. Share the schedule on your website and cover photo on Facebook as soon as possible. When will you host your communal penance service - share the date(s) and times of the day. Does your parish school host a Christmas play - share the date and time. Does your geographic location hold special community events that your members generally attend - share them on your pages and provide a spiritual connection.
Lastly, inspire your followers to undertake a challenge of some sort. Whether it is taking on a spiritual practice during the four weeks of advent, keeping a journal of ways they reflect daily on the gift of Christ coming into the world or simply selecting an app or podcast to listen to each day of the season to feed your soul during this fertile season!