Archbishop Eamon Martin recently launched the 2021 interactive digital Advent Calendar, which will go live on www.catholicbishops.ie on the first Sunday of Advent, 28 November next.
Now in its eighth year, the unique digital 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 content is aimed at assisting people of all ages to pray and reflect on how best we can keep Christ at the centre of our Christmas preparations during this special liturgical season.
Welcoming this year’s Advent Calendar Archbishop Eamon said, “After another difficult year of living with the Covid-19 pandemic, the season of Advent arrives and offers us 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, to find that glimmer of light, that note of joy, that promise of consolation. I am very conscious that in troubled parts of the world the message of Christian “peace and goodwill to all” needs to be heard above the noise of war, the cries of the poor and the agony of the displaced and oppressed. Our digital advent calendar offers ideas to help us spiritually prepare for our Lord’s coming at Christmas so that we are more aware of the suffering of our brothers and sisters throughout the world and of the things that we ourselves can easily take for granted. Every day of our lives presents a moment for change and conversion and a reminder to look out for the presence of the suffering Christ in the sick, the poor and the stranger.
“Our digital Advent 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.
“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. The Covid-19 virus may have struck at the very heart of our outreach and ministry to the sick, the dying and the bereaved; but, it could not, and did not, and will not destroy our hope and our conviction that God remains especially near to people who suffer, and God is close to those who are broken-hearted. As the prophet Isaiah said “the people that wait in darkness have seen a great light”. During Advent, let us reflect on the uplifting promise of Christmas, that Christ is alive and that He is our hope.”
A popular feature on the Advent Calendar is the audio thought for the day. Contributors this year will include bishops, priests, religious, laity, staff of the councils and agencies of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, as well as primary, secondary and college students.
The 2021 Advent Calendar will also include:
– Mass Readings and Saint of the Day;
– Family prayers;
– Advent videos: blessing of the crib in the home, blessing of the advent wreath in the home;
– Words of hope and consolation from Pope Francis;
– Acts of kindness in the family, school and parish;
– Suggestions to make Christmas more sustainable so as to care for our common home;
– Seasonal prayers;
– Resources for Advent including books and music;
– Advent events in dioceses and parishes;
– Information on Trócaire’s life-changing Gifts of Love for 2021 as well as special appeals to help families in need.