JONATHAN F. SULLIVAN
Keeping an Advent season of attentive and joyful anticipation — amidst the secular celebration of Christmas all around us — is an annual struggle. Fortunately there are resources you can find — or create! — that will help the faithful of your parish keep the Advent season, even in the midst of their busy lives.
Apps and websites
In recent years a wide variety of digital Advent tools have been released online:
Xt3 Advent Calendar app: Xt3, a Catholic media ministry in Australia, releases an annual digital Advent calendar (both on their website and as an app) to help Catholics count down the days to the Nativity. Find it at Xt3.com/Advent/
Naxos Musical Advent Calendar: This popular app features a different piece of seasonal classical music each day! See CATmag.us/2iL1jp9
Busted Halo Advent videos: The Paulist Fathers have developed a number of Advent videos and digital activities collected on their Busted Halo site. Go to CATmag.us/2iJD6Q0
Confession: Many parishes hold special penance services during Advent. This app walks penitents through an examination of conscience and the prayers of the sacrament of Penance, making it ideal for those who have not frequented the sacrament in a long time. Check out LittleIApps.com/confession
Arts & Faith: Loyola Press’ Arts & Faith series features short video reflections on works of art appropriate to the liturgical season. They are perfect for use in catechetical classes or sharing on parish social media sites. Try CATmag.us/2eHuS6r
USCCB Advent resources: The USCCB’s resources include family blessings for Advent wreaths and Christmas trees, lectio divina handouts, and a family Advent calendar with suggested daily activities. Go to CATmag.us/2glMzJ9
Advent Conspiracy: This ecumenical website encourages churches and parishioners to resist the consumer Christmas mentality and focus on worship, giving, and loving others. See AdventConspiracy.org
Thanks to the proliferation of digital tools, create your own digital media to share with your parishioners and communities:
Video reflections: Consider crafting short (3-5 minute) video reflections by having some trusted, well-spoken parishioners prepare reflections on why Advent is important to them, or share thoughts on the Sunday Gospel reading. Use your cell phone’s camera to record them. The resulting video can be uploaded to YouTube and shared on your parish website, email lists, and social media.
Advent music playlist: With the radio and shopping centers playing Christmas carols, it can be easy to forget the Church’s rich tradition of Advent hymns. A service like Spotify can create a playlist of Advent hymns and antiphons. Then share the link with your parishioners.
Liturgical social media banners: Let your social media presence and website reflect the liturgical season. Use a design website like Canva.com to create banners for Facebook or Twitter with appropriate colors and images to remind your visitors of the season we are celebrating!
Jonathan F. Sullivan serves as executive director of evangelization, education, and worship for the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. He blogs on evangelization and catechesis at JonathanFSullivan.com.
Image credit: Dragana Gordic / Shutter Stock 536624023