(Editor’s note: Cut out the Advent calendar on Page 3 of the print edition this week so you can follow along each week in The Messenger as the calendar comes to life.)
By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
“If we resist rather than embrace the cultural commercialization of Advent and the early celebration of Christmas, Advent can be a wonderful season of longing, hoping, yearning, waiting, watching and preparing for the coming of the Messiah.” – Bishop Thomas Zinkula
Come along on an ADVENTure this December, as The Catholic Messenger shares insights and ideas from people and parishes in the Diocese of Davenport.
Sunday, Dec. 3
Today is the day to get out your Advent wreath! Light your violet candle or electric votive today.
Each year during Advent, Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine involves parishioners in the lighting of its Advent candles. “Each Sunday of Advent we invite a different family to come up in the entry procession and light the Advent wreath,” said pastor Father Troy Richmond.
Today, St. Ambrose University in Davenport will celebrate the feast day of its patron saint. Each year, the university celebrates Mass for the Feast of St. Ambrose and presents McMullen Awards to honor those who have made a difference for the university. This year’s Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m. in Christ the King Chapel, with the awards and a social to follow.
Monday, Dec. 4
Focus your mind on the spirit of Advent today and every day leading up to Christmas.
Bishop Zinkula recalls, “As a parish priest, I used to enjoy arriving at church early in the morning before Mass, lighting the Advent wreath candles, and spending time in prayer, reflection and meditation in the silence, solitude and darkness.”
One of his favorite Advent reflections is this poem by the late Sister Jessica Powers, a Carmelite nun from Wisconsin:
I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
with hope’s expectance of nativity.
I knew for long she carried and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
Someone is hidden in this dark with me.
Tuesday, Dec. 5
Make confession a priority this Advent season.
Father David Brownfield, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Riverside, was commissioned by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy in 2016. Fr. Brownfield offers the following reflection on confession during Advent: “Advent is about preparing for Christ’s return as well as preparing to celebrate his birthday. Confession helps with both preparations. A good confession requires humility needed for heaven. Humility helps us appreciate God’s mercy as a gift and not an entitlement. In humility, we appreciate that mercy of God doesn’t damn us for our sins but offers another opportunity for salvation. By seeking reconciliation, we recognize our equality with everyone as sinners dependent upon God’s mercy. During Advent, reconciliation can help us begin life afresh with greater zeal for Christ.”
Wednesday, Dec. 6
Feast Day of St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas was known for his abundant generosity to the poor. The generosity of St. Nicholas has often expressed in the giving of gifts. When making your Christmas list this year, consider asking loved ones to make a donation to a favorite program or charity on your behalf.
Thursday, Dec. 7
Feast Day of St. Ambrose
St. Ambrose was a bishop and doctor of the Catholic Church known for his pastoral skills and his love for the poor. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says Catholics can follow his example “just by witnessing the faith through your everyday life lived with love, honesty, hope and faith.”
Friday, Dec. 8:
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Take this day to honor Mary and pray for all women who are dealing with unplanned pregnancies. “Mary had an unplanned pregnancy as a teenager,” said Vicki Tyler, executive director of the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf. “She had many obstacles and yet she chose to be obedient to God.”
Contact your local Right to Life organization, pro-life crisis pregnancy center or Birthright to see how you can help women and families dealing with unplanned pregnancies.
Saturday, Dec. 9
Set up a nativity scene as a way to remind guests to your home, as well as your family members, of what is really important this holiday season. Don’t put baby Jesus in the crèche yet!
At St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty participates in a unique Nativity tradition – one the pastor, Father Joseph Sia, brought to the parish a few years ago. “Beginning the first Sunday of Advent, I bring out our Nativity statues of Saints Joseph and Mary and ask parishioners from each Mass (English and Spanish) to bring home a statue and let it stay in their home for a week. I invite them to pray at home with the statue as a preparation for Christmas. They are to bring back the statue the following Sunday for another parishioner to take home. On the last Sunday of Advent, both statues are back in church and I bring out the baby Jesus statue in time for Christmas.”