Advent calls us to see beyond the limitations of our own hopes and sorrows and to refocus our vision on the cosmic reality of Christ. All of creation will be transformed. God has made that promise and in our midst, it is being fulfilled.
Plan to take advantage of the many ways that you can prepare your heart for the Lord to come in this holy season.
Your Advent Wreath
You can make an Advent wreath very easily with an evergreen wreath, four small candle holders and three violet and one rose candle. If you would like to have a permanent wreath that becomes part of your holiday traditions, look in our Amazon store for a variety of wreaths.
You can buy just the right colors of candles at Waxman at 3044 N. Lincoln Ave. They have what you need, including the perfect shade of violet.
Light the wreath each evening right before your evening meal, even if you are dining solo.
Light one violet candle each evening for the first week of Advent.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are Emmanuel, God with us.
Come and dwell with us.
Fill our waiting hearts and give us your peace.
Light two violet candles each evening for the second week of Advent.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Prince of Peace.
Teach us your ways of peace.
Make us peacemakers and signs of your kingdom.
Come O Lord and set us free!
Light two violet and one rose candle each evening for the third week of Advent.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the joy of every human heart.
Give us the knowledge of your presence
and the strength that comes from you alone.
Keep us in your embrace and bring us to you at the last.
Light all four candles each evening for the fourth week of Advent.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the way to the Father.
Come and teach us your truth.
Word made flesh, Word of God, help us to hear.
Open our ears and our hearts to the promise of new life.
Resources for Prayer
Take a reflection book from church. This year, we are using The Little Blue Book. These short daily reflections are a good way to keep the meaning of the season in your consciousness.
We will also have the “Little Blue Books” available in Spanish.
The Magnificat Advent Companion is also available.
Catholic Mom Resources
Lisa Hendey (sister of parishioner Erin Bartholomy Birks) has publicized O Radiant Dawn – a booklet of short five-minute reflections for personal and family prayer.
Creative Communications has a number of daily devotional books for your e-reader.
Daily Prayer with the Church
A regular rhythm of prayer keeps one close to Christ. These links provide resources for Advent and beyond.
The Angelus is a wonderful prayer to learn during Advent, and to continue afterwards. At dawn, noon and evening, we are invited to meditate for a moment on the miracle of the Incarnation, and our response to God’s grace.
Scripture and Other Ways to Deepen Faith
Many voice the desire to read the Bible, but don’t know where to begin. This guide to the ‘great stories of Scripture’ leads up to the coming of Christ. Read one a day through Advent, and reflect on the story of salvation as told to us in the Old Testament. These passages will give you the outline and ‘flavor’ of the Hebrew Scriptures, which you can fill in with your own reading.
With Advent, we begin Cycle C of the Sunday readings.
More spiritual reading
Check out Advent reading (and listening) selections in the
St. Alphonsus Bookstore
Around the Web
Advent resources from Loyola Press, American Catholic, Catholic.org
Advent is often a time of increased busy-ness rather than prayerful reflection. Many find that a commitment to attend daily Mass helps put some calm in the day. Weekday masses at St. Alphonsus are Monday through Saturday at 8:30 AM and Wednesday at 6:00 PM. Daily mass lasts only about a half an hour. If the times here don’t mesh well with your schedule, check out options near where you work, especially at lunch time. In downtown Chicago, St. Peter’s, Holy Name Cathedral and Old St. Pat’s are all accessible.
One excellent preparation for mass, to make it more meaningful, is to read the Scripture readings ahead of time.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Each Wednesday, after the 6:00 PM mass, we begin a Holy Hour of Eucharistic adoration. People come to spend some time with the Lord, in prayer and meditation. Many enjoy the silence and chance to speak directly to the Lord in prayer. If you have never experienced this form of prayer, this Advent might be a good time to try it.
Penance and Reconciliation
The Sacrament of Reconciliation offers a wonderful opportunity to explore and pray over the ways in which we have broken relationships or have failed. God’s presence assures forgiveness and offers us the grace of a new beginning on the path.
Advent is a traditional time to ‘take stock’ and discover the ways in which we can turn more fully toward the Lord. It is a great season in which to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
The sacrament is Reconciliation is regularly offered twice each week:
Wednesday from 6:30 to 7:30 PM
Saturday from 9:00 to 9:30 AM
You can also make an appointment with one of the priests.
A video guide in two parts: “Preparing” and “In the Confessional”
Print guide to confession
Sign up for a daily Advent Reflection from Fr. Robert Barron.
Online Advent Retreats from Loyola Press, Creighton University, and the Spiritual Exercises in blog format. (Scroll to the bottom to begin.) This retreat helps you focus and journal on the daily readings.
Lunchtime Examen, a way to find God’s activity in your day
Weekly Advent video series from Dot Magis
Online Advent Calendars
A ‘grown up’ Advent calendar From Doxa Web
From St. Margaret Mary in Naperville
An Advent Calendar from Loyola Press
Advent with Children
Planning Advent for your children
It is a bit counter-productive to add lots of new activities to your holiday routine. A way to begin the season would be to inventory what really makes a positive difference in your family and what is just ‘activity clutter.’
De-clutter and then look at the spiritual meaning of the season. Pick one activity that will really be appealing to your children.
Jennifer Fulwiler has good suggestions for 24 ways to keep Advent with children.
Many families recommend Holy Heroes. When you register for their free Advent program, you get a daily email with activities and videos for your kids.
Catholic Culture offers a number of hands-on resources and prayers.
Check out the St. Alphonsus book store for more resources for families.
Here at St. Alphonsus
As a parish, our Giving Tree provides the chance to help ‘make Christmas’ for families and individuals in need. Take a tag from the tree to buy a gift for someone from a family who is being helped by Catholic Charities, for a homeless youth through the Night Ministry, for a client at Lakeview Pantry, or a woman at Deborah’s Place.
Check out other parish opportunities, which are ongoing through the year.
Around our neighborhood
Volunteering for the Greater Chicago Food Depository: Volunteers are needed, especially with high demand! Family friendly volunteer opportunities are also available once a month.
Volunteer at the Women’s Center , a pro-life ministry devoted to helping women in problem pregnancies. They have three counseling offices in the Chicago area. Each year their counselors help approximately 5,000 women and their families.
Lakeview Pantry is on the St. Alphonsus campus. They welcome both donations and volunteer support. Contact Erin.
Aquinas Literacy Center is looking for ESL volunteers to teach English to adult learners. Volunteers tutor for about 90 minutes a week. All training is provided.
Lincoln Park Community Shelter assists those living on the streets in our neighborhood. Their programs meet immediate needs and work toward moving clients to permanent housing. More information about ways to volunteer is available on their web site.
Creative Shopping that Helps Others
Places to buy Fair Trade items and gifts that benefit others
Monastery Greetings – A clearinghouse of goods made by various monasteries of men and women.
When you give Fair Trade goods, you know that the producers receive a fair return and can support their families. You can find beautiful Fair Trade items at the following sites:
Ten Thousand Villages – Beautiful Fair Trade gifts from around the world. They also have a local store at 719 Main Street in Evanston.
Serrv – Gifts from all over the world; an agency of Catholic Relief Services
Tree of Life Imports – Colorful and beautiful crafts from Latin America.
Another option is to make a donation in someone’s name. Two excellent choices are:
Food for the Poor
Heifer – You can ‘buy an animal’ to give to a friend or family member. That animal goes to form a breeding pair in a place in need.