By Susan Ciancio

He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. – Luke 1:32-33

Advent is almost upon us! And we know that Christmas isn’t far behind. But let us not rush through the season of Advent. Instead, let us savor it and the time we are blessed to spend in preparation for the coming of the Christ Child.

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus and literally means “arrival” or “coming.” So the four weeks leading up to Christ’s birth should be weeks during which we contemplate God becoming man, His love, His sacrifice, and His gifts.

This preparation not only directs our minds and hearts to when Christ came as a baby but also to when Christ will come again—something we should look forward to with joyful anticipation rather than fear, for as Scripture tells us, we should not weigh ourselves down worrying, wondering, or trying to predict when this will happen. If we live our lives according to Christ’s teachings and the teachings of the Church, we will not fear the end of days.

Yet, many maintain that it’s difficult to feel joy in a world fraught with political unrest, violence, a disregard for human beings, and more. But we know that these reasons are exactly why we need joy!

Our Advent preparation can include many things, including prayer, fasting, the giving of our time, and even visible evidence of the season, such as an Advent wreath or calendar. These tangible reminders encourage us to spend time each day in reflection on the immense gift God gave us when He sent His Son. So, as we prepare, let us do things that bring out joy, not just in ourselves but in others.

To help with your preparation this Advent, the Culture of Life Studies Program has created a very special booklet.

“Calendar” booklet

At the CLSP, we understand the importance of daily prayer and meditation—especially as a family and especially during Advent. But prayer alone is not enough. It’s not only important for families to pray together but for children to become involved in the prayer, to feel that joy of growing closer to Christ, to learn about their faith, and then to act on that faith.

That’s why we created a downloadable family Advent “calendar” booklet. Arranged like a reflection booklet, and with reflections and activities for each day, this unique “calendar” will help you along your journey toward receiving the Christ Child. Not only that, but it will bring you closer to Him and will offer ways for your family to strengthen its faith as you build a culture of life in your home.

Each day, you will read a Scripture verse pertaining to Christ’s birth. We then offer a short reflection of this verse. Next, we feature the saint of the day and give a brief biography of this person, explaining how he built a culture of life within his own community. We also offer suggestions for how you and your family can emulate this saint. Finally, we close with a fun activity you can do as a family. This varies each day and could be anything from a few scrambled words, to a Christmas vocabulary lesson, to instruction for a way to reach out in charity to people within your community, to a special baking activity, or something else exciting. Each activity will be a fun way to extend the lessons you learned in the reflection or in the reading for the day. And each day’s reflection will strengthen your bond as a family as you come together to share in your faith.

The greatest gift we have ever received is Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection. So, as we prepare for Christ’s coming, let us take action to ensure our readiness. We will not be ready if all we do for the weeks leading up to Christmas is listen to Christmas carols, fret about logistics, and think about gifts. Indeed, we must focus on Christ’s presence not Christmas presents.

Taking the time to pray and learn as a family will enrich our Advent season and help us see what’s truly important. Further, it will bring us the joy Christ wants us to have as we look forward with childlike anticipation to His birthday.

To order this downloadable booklet, visit culture-of-life-studies.myshopify.com/products/waiting-for-christ-with-joyful-anticipation-2021.