The Online Advent Calendar launched by Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Chair of the Council for Communications of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, to coincide with the beginning of Advent is available to dioceses, parishes, schools, religious orders and anyone who want to use technology and the convenience of their smartphone to follow and keep Advent.
Launching the calendar, Archbishop Eamon said, “The season of Advent marks the beginning of the Catholic year and the time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas. It is a time of waiting, conversion and hope. Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time. As Christians, we must always be prepared for the coming of the Lord – ‘You must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do no not expect’ [Mt 24:37-44]. Preparation does not happen at once but over time and so each day of Advent amounts to a period of time which allows us to journey and reflect on the joy of the Gospel. Our online calendar is a helpful resource in this journey.”
Archbishop Eamon continued, “This year, the beginning of our Catholic new year coincides with the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy which we celebrated as a universal Church at the invitation of our Holy Father Pope Francis. Across Ireland, in parishes, schools, religious communities and places of pilgrimage, hundreds of special gatherings and events took place to mark the Jubilee Year and to emphasise its key message – that the name of God is mercy; that God’s mercy is available to all, and we are, in turn, called to be merciful as our Heavenly Father is merciful.
“I invite everyone during the Advent season to visit and to reflect on the information provided on our online calendar, especially the themes of love in the family as well as mercy and peace.”
Archbishop Eamon concluded, “As Advent is the season of preparation for the coming of our Lord, I encourage the faithful, notwithstanding our hectic schedule over the coming weeks, to make time to pray – alone and with loved ones – and by so doing to draw nearer to Christ.”
A popular feature on the Advent Calendar is the audio thought for the day. Contributors this year will include Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin; Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin; Anna Keegan and Clare McEvoy from Trócaire; Mary Johnson from Accord Catholic Marriage Care Service; Father Bryan Shortall, OFM Cap; Brother Richard Hendrick OFM Cap; Junior Infant student Eliza (5), Sixth class student Cathal (12); Transition Year Student Joe (15) and University Student Emma Tobin (19). These Thought for the Day audio recordings are available on the pages of the Advent Calendar as well as on our podcasting and on-demand Audioboom platform.
The 2016 Advent Calendar also includes:
- The words of Pope Francis taken from his 2016 Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), his letter marking the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy Misericordia et Misera, his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Si’ (Praise be to you), his daily homilies from Casa Santa Marta and his Twitter feed;
- Mass Readings and Saint of the Day;
- Advent videos: blessing of the crib in the home, blessing of the advent wreath in the home, prayer when lighting the lights on the Christmas tree, family table prayer;
- Advent music;
- Information on saints during the Advent such as Saint Nicholas;
- Video and text reflections from Pope Francis and Irish bishops
- Family prayers (mother and child, children, grandparents, parents and godparents);
- Prayers for the season: for families in need, for those suffering neglect and violence, for Irish emigrants, for those in prison, for those who are sick, for refugees and migrants; for Christians suffering in the Middle East and Iraq and for those in difficulty here in Ireland;
- Faithbytes: Short snippets from the Bible, the Catechism (including the Adult Catechism published by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference) and Share the Good News.
- Resources for Advent and Christmas from Veritas, including a book of the day recommendation;
- Advent events in dioceses and parishes;
- Information on Trócaire’s Global Gifts for 2016;
- Food Bank appeals from around the country such as Crosscare in Dublin and information on the work of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul;
- Advent and Christmas messages from Irish bishops in preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord.
To access this year’s Advent Calendar please see www.catholicbishops.ie/advent-calendar. An accompanying Facebook page is also available and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/AdventSeason2016.
Please note that the virtual doors of the Advent Calendar will not open ahead of time – they will open on the day assigned to them and the first door will open on Sunday 27 November.