Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh has launched the 2020 online Advent Calendar, which will go live on www.catholicbishops.ie on the first Sunday of Advent, which this year falls on 29 November.

Now in its seventh year, the unique online Advent Calendar offers resources for the parish, school and for families which can be accessed behind a virtual door each day during the season of Advent.  The Advent Calendar aims to assist people of all ages to pray and reflect on how best to keep Christ at the centre of Christmas preparations. 

Welcoming this year’s Advent Calendar Archbishop Eamon reflected on the impact that Covid-19 has had this past year. He said, “While it is has been a very trying year for all us due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the season of Advent offers a new beginning and a promise of hope for better times. The First Sunday of Advent is actually the Christian Church’s New Year’s Day.  This year  – perhaps more than ever –  we need ideas and inspiration to help us delve deeper during our hours of isolation and restriction, to find that glimmer of light, that note of joy, that promise of consolation.  The virtual calendar offers ideas to help us spiritually prepare for our Lord’s coming at Christmas with thoughtful reflections as well as challenges for change and conversion. Every day of our lives presents a moment to prepare for the coming of the Lord – we continually stay alert and prepared for the unexpected moment when the Lord comes to us in other people, in our daily experiences, including his presence in the sick, the poor and the stranger.” 

Archbishop Eamon said the online calendar is a helpful resource on our ‘journey’ towards Christmas.  By clicking on a virtual door we are inviting people to take just five minutes for reflection so as to find moments of peace and to rediscover the true meaning of Advent and Christmas.  

The archbishop went on to say, “Since the outbreak of the pandemic the people of Ireland have endured testing times with courage, resilience, and compassion.  Individuals and communities have made great sacrifices for the protection of life, health and for the common good.  Many Christians have been reaching out in generous service and support for their neighbours, the lonely, the isolated, the sick and the bereaved. Faith, love and hope – in the home and in church – have been a huge support during these difficult times.  As we continue, in solidarity, to progress together, I invite everyone to be part of #SharingHope this Advent season by availing of the helpful resources on our calendar and through sharing these with others on social media. 

“The seasons of Advent and Christmas occur in the depth of winter reminding us that Christ was born to bring hope to a darkened world. As the prophet Isaiah said “the people that wait in darkness see a great light”. During Advent, let us reflect on the eternal message of Christmas, which is, Christ is alive and that He is our hope.” 

Archbishop Eamon Martin is chair of the Council for Communications of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The Advent Calendar can be accessed on www.catholicbishops.ie/adventcalendar.

ENDS