Advent is the beginning of our new liturgical year, so it is a great time to start building new habits or revisiting ones you’re already doing. It is a time of waiting and expecting. Advent, roughly translated, means “coming.” We are preparing for Christ’s coming. People often think Advent means preparing for Christmas—when he first came into the world, but it also marks an opportunity to prepare for when He comes again.
What are we doing as families to bring us closer to God?
Prayer is the place to begin. Whether you pray regularly as a family or are just starting this practice, there is always an opportunity to grow closer to God.
The beauty of our Catholic faith is that there are a variety of prayer styles. Each member of your family may have a particular style that draws them closer to the Lord—devotions, journaling, adoration, daily Mass, music, art, meditation, and so on. Advent offers specific opportunities to draw us closer to God through types of prayer unique to the season—times of silence, the O Antiphons, a Jesse Tree, and the Advent wreath.
The form of prayer you prefer is not as important as the acts of prayer. The season of life you are in, family schedules, and other factors may influence how and when you pray together. Listen to God, asking him what he is asking your family to do in this season of Advent.
What are some ways to do this?
- Listen to what the needs are and what the best movement is for your family. You may desire to have an involved prayer experience at bedtime, but that might not work if everyone is grumpy at that time because they are overtired. Consider where your family has energy and excitement to try a new or more involved prayer experience.
- Use different prayer resources. These will help you learn new prayer styles, as well as explore Scripture. 52 Sundays, The Little Blue Book, or Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers can each help your family grow closer to one another and the Lord during Advent and beyond.
- Pray together. Try praying this simple prayer together each day of Advent:
Heavenly Father, help direct our thoughts and actions toward you, allowing us to imitate those who helped share Jesus with the world.
May we be open to your will, just as Mary was when you asked her to be the mother of your Son.
May we be guided like Joseph to listen and follow your directions, even at unexpected times.
May we proclaim your goodness and share your Word with others, even when it is not easy or popular to do, just as John the Baptist did.
Open our eyes and our hearts to “prepare the way of the Lord” in our home and beyond. Amen.
- Take time to reflect on your time in prayer. Family prayer isn’t just about doing; it is also about understanding what you experienced. Take time to ask questions as a family: Where did you feel God in that experience? What part meant a lot to you during prayer? What was difficult about that prayer? (This can give you insight into possible adjustments to make, such as the best time to pray.) What did you hear God say?
Advent isn’t about just doing one more thing. In this new liturgical year, take time as a family this Advent season to reflect on what is helping you prepare for Christ in your lives and how to grow closer to him through prayer.