Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

Happy November all!

After All Saints Day, I think Advent is my very favorite time to be Catholic.  (I think that come Holy Week, I might say that is my favorite time to be Catholic- hmm, maybe I just really like being Catholic…)  This month will feature a series of ways to prepare for, celebrate and pray through the season of Advent.

What is Advent?  Advent is the Catholic season which precedes Christmas, a time of waiting and preparation for the great celebration of Christ’s birth.  I’ve always loved Advent, but it wasn’t until I became a religion teacher that I really understood some of the beautiful symbols and traditions of the season.  Here are some of my favorites.

The first two weeks of the Advent season help us to focus on our preparation for Jesus’s second coming at the end of time.  The readings at Mass are apocalyptic and highly symbolic.  The last two weeks of Advent help us to focus on our preparation for the celebration of Jesus’s first coming at the first Christmas.  We get to hear the beautiful prophecies of Isaiah and the other prophets and follow the story or Mary and Joseph as they prepare for the arrival of their son.

The Advent wreath is probably the most recognizable and beautiful symbol of the season.  An evergreen wreath with four candles, one for each week of the season, the Advent wreath reminds us of the four themes of Advent: hope, love, joy, and peace.  Two of my ideas for celebrating Advent with your class will focus on these for themes.  Stay tuned for Advent party poppers and paint chip bookmarks.
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The music of Advent is another beautiful way to celebrate the season.  While it’s no shock to anyone who knows me that music is one of my favorite ways to pray, most students (and maybe Catholics in general) don’t know some of the beautiful music that accompanies this season.  In that vein, there will also be a post about the O Antiphons, the inspiration for the classic Advent hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

I’ve posted before about the Jesse Tree, but this year I will share about how a group of friends and I did a Jesse Tree ornament swap with tips and tricks for setting up your own.IMG_2799

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