Yesterday was the last Sunday of the Catholic liturgical year and we are just days away from Thanksgiving. The reflection at Mass was a call for us to treat this last Sunday of the liturgical year as we would the last day of the calendar year and assess how we met our spiritual goals for the year. What perfect timing as most of us will be taking vacation next week. So hoping all of you will have time to read this and maybe share it.
Even though I work in the vineyard of the Lord it is still a challenge for me to steal away for some substantive time in silence to listen for God's will in my life. Usually, I pattern my #ChurchSocialTips to be about what you can share on your social pages, but this year let this serve as a challenge for you to lay a path of peace for your followers this Advent.
Of course the practice of lighting the Advent candles on the wreath is the most obvious symbol of the season and a great way to carry the spirit of special prayer time with family beyond Thanksgiving. In the digital world capturing the lighting on your phone could serve as a daily reflection to help people focus on the weekly themes of the season. You could also share the candle lighting as a social media post too. #Beadigitaldisciple
For so many the days leading up to Christmas cause anxiety, stress and frenzy - far from the spirit of peace the time is supposed to conjure. That's where technology can really help find pockets of time to plug into simple and short bursts of reflection:
Best Advent Ever - This has become one of the easiest ways for Catholics around the world to take a few minutes out of their busy lives to reflect and fold prayer into their day. You simply sign-up and a daily video will show up in your email inbox. This has become an annual practice that forms an online community that journey together and journal about their feelings on the daily reflections.
Busted Halo Advent Calendar - This one is a little more labor intensive you have to remember to visit the site everyday and click each day on their digital calendar. If you scroll down the page Busted Halo also offers three other ways to experience the journey to Christmas. First of all they have a new 2 minute video that can be shared on your social media pages. The second option is their Instagram Advent Photo Challenge - so fun! Third a virtual retreat experience that is downloadable for individuals or groups to do - great tool for the catechist out there.
Bishop Barron's Advent Reflections - Over 300,000 have signed up to receive a daily email sharing an Advent reflection from Bishop Barron.
Hallow App - My favorite Catholic App, Hallow has created an interactive experience over the twenty-five days of Advent that will include a variety of prayerful practices connected to the themes of hope, faith, joy and peace. It even includes an Examen meditation every Friday and saying the rosary on Saturday meditating on the joyful mysteries. The last seven days the meditation will end with the O Anthiphons.
The Liturgical Calendar is chock full of observances that cause us to reflect on our Blessed Mother Mary. There are also a number of Saints that are true models of the Christmas season and it's the month we celebrate Pope Francis' birthday!
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 9), 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) and St. John of Kanty (December 23) St. Stephen (December 26), St. John the Evangelist (December 27), the Holy Innocents (December 28), The feast of St. Thomas Becket (December 29) is superseded by the Sunday liturgy. St. Sylvester I (December 31). The octave closes on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Lastly, Pope Francis' Birthday (December 17)
The Christmas season sparks a spirit of giving in all of us, whether it's dropping a donation in the kettle for the Salvation Army or participating in a toy drive. A recent article in the National Catholic Register also highlights the trend of #igivecatholic on #givingtuesday on December 3rd. It is being ranked third behind number one Black Friday and number two Cyber Monday for online activity. I have a devotion to Hawaiian Sts. Damien and Marianne and they are listed as DMCC, an organization on the I Give Catholic website seeking donations for their 2021 conference and I will be giving to them. Lastly, many parishes are in the middle of their stewardship campaigns. Create posts on Giving Tuesday to spark reflection on how they should share their time, talent or treasure with your parish. You may also create a giving campaign earmarked for a specific need at your parish on this day of giving.
I've shared some great food for thought on things to share on your social media pages already prepared for you. So here's the challenge how can you customize these ideas at your own parish? Taking a page from Bishop Barron our pastor is sharing a daily reflection via our You Tube channel. Inspired by the Busted Halo Photo Challenge we have chosen a word lifted from the Gospel everyday that will be shared on our page to reflect on. A simple and engaging way to spark giving for families is to ask them to make or donate an ornament to decorate trees in the church or hall. Put up an Jesse or Angel tree. We are also going to engage kids at the school with calling for pictures and articles about St. Nicholas.
Christmas is coming - Peace of Christ be with YOU!