Archbishop Eamon Martin has launched a specially commissioned 2014 Advent calendar on the homepage of the Irish Catholic bishops’ website www.catholicbishops.ie to coincide with the beginning of Advent on Sunday next, 30 November.
Each day on the calendar will reveal Advent information and prayer resources by clicking on a virtual numerical door.
A new feature on this year’s Advent Calendar will be an audio “Thought for Today’”which will be voiced by a different contributor each of the days of Advent and will reflect themes of the Advent season. Contributors include Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin; Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin; Father Michael Drumm, Chair of the Catholic Schools Partnership, as well as seasonal reflections by staff from the councils, agencies and offices of the Bishops’ Conference for example ACCORD and Trócaire and by individual students from Catholic primary and secondary schools.
Archbishop Martin said: “For many years we have provided online resources to assist with our Advent preparations, and this year we once again offer the faithful our novel online calendar for this purpose.
“The season of Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas. 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]. Why is the Advent calendar useful? Preparation does not happen at once but over time. Each day of Advent amounts to a period of time which allows us to journey and reflect on ‘the joy of the Gospel.’
“As we begin our Catholic new year, I invite everyone during the Advent season to visit and to enjoy the information provided on our online calendar.”
Archbishop Martin 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.”
The audio recordings will be available on the pages of the Advent Calendar on catholicbishops.ie as well as on http://audioboom.com/IrishCatholicBishops.
The 2014 Advent Calendar will include:
• The words of Pope Francis taken from his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), his daily homilies from Casa Santa Marta and his Twitter feed;
Mass readings 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;
• Information on saints during the Advent such as Saint Nicholas on 6 December;
Video and text reflections from Pope Francis and Irish bishops (The Creed, The Liturgy etc)
• 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 Christians suffering in the Middle East and Iraq and for those in difficulty here in Ireland;
• Tweets from individuals, parishes, Irish Church agencies and from the Vatican;
• Resources for Advent and Christmas from Veritas;
• Events in dioceses and parishes;
• Information on Trócaire’s Global Gifts for 2014;
• 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;
• Christmas messages from Irish bishops in preparation for the Nativity of our Lord.