Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

So I’ve recently started listening to The Catholic Feminist Podcast, and one of her episodes this month had the catchy title of “How I Advent”. I am minority obsessed with this liturgical season, and in addition to loving her thoughts on Advent, I wanted to take the time to share a bit about how I celebrate Advent at school, at home with my family, and also for myself.

For a prayer table, I tend to keep my Advent set up pretty simple. I have a peg doll crèche set that occupies the center of the table, with Jesus somewhere else until Christmas. I have the wise men placed somewhere else in the classroom, making their way slowly around the room until Epiphany. A purple table cloth and an Advent wreath complete our simple prayer station for Advent.

I also take the time to teach my students some of the old Advent hymns: The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns, On Jordan’s Bank, Lo How a Rose, O Come O Come Emmanuel, and Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. Because I love chant so much, I may teach my 8th graders a setting of the O Antiphons this year. I am trying to add to my celebration of Advent with the 8th graders, so this year we will be learning all about the O Antiphons. (Stay tuned for more about those coming soon!)

The seventh graders will learn and present the stories of the Jesse Tree for class prayer at the beginning of religion class each day. With the 8th graders, in addition to learning the O Antiphons, we often make Advent bookmarks or party poppers that follow the themes for each week: hope, peace, joy and love.

I know all of these things can sound like a lot, and I haven’t gone into great detail on any of them, but all of the links will take you to posts from previous years. These posts will be much more in depth as to how to accomplish any of the ideas I’ve listed here. Again, each year I pick and choose what activities will work in my classroom and with my students, so I can’t always do it all. But I’m really encouraged by the trend I am seeing towards more liturgical living. I think these types of prayer experiences are what make our faith so beautiful and fun.

My plan is to go in to school this holiday weekend and set up all of my Advent prayer areas so the students are surprised when they come in on Monday, Decemeber 2nd. I’ll post pictures on instagram @faiththatworksea and in the Facebook group for the blog if you want to see them. Happy Advent!

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