Advent is only a few weeks away. As the rest of the world buys into the frenzy of preparing for Christmas, I’m trying to prepare our family for a slower, more prayerful liturgical season.
Advent buoys between days of prayerful waiting and joyful anticipation. There are days of fasting and emptiness, but also many fun feast days that give a taste of the Christmas season to come.
By planning and preparing now, I’m hoping to avoid some of the stress and panic that always seems to creep up on me at this time of year.
Kendra Tierney’s book, The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living For Real Life has inspired me to find ways to bring our Church seasons to life for our family. As I started reading through her wonderful ideas, I was excited to try out many of her traditions, as well as retaining many of my own.
All of these ideas can quickly lead me into the sense of overwhelm I’m trying to avoid this year, so I started putting together a liturgical binder with a section for each month of the year and a (hopefully) realistic plan for maintaining a vibrant, living faith within our domestic church.
My binder starts off with a December “title page,” followed by a timeline page with all of the dates our family wants to highlight during the month. These include the Feast of St. Nicholas, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe, the Feast of St. Lucy, Gaudete Sunday, the O Antiphons, and Christmas Day. Alongside each of these dates, I briefly outlined ideas for how our family can celebrate them. Kendra’s book gives many other ideas for celebratory days, so your family can pick and choose the feast days that are especially close to your hearts. Of course, holy days of obligation should always at least be celebrated by attending Mass!
The timeline page also includes traditions our family will follow throughout the Advent season, like the Advent wreath and Jesse Tree.
After the timeline page in my binder, I’m including all prayers, recipes, craft ideas and instructions, coloring pages, and other information that apply to the feast days and traditions our family will be celebrating. One idea in Kendra’s book that I especially love is to use feast days as an excuse to bake treats for that day, as well as some extra to stash in the freezer for the upcoming Christmas season. Our family loves peppermint bark. I’m planning to make some for us to nibble on the Feast of St. Nicholas, then we’ll put the rest in the freezer for later and return to more penitential eating on December 7.
By keeping each prayer, craft, and recipe on separate pages in sheet protectors in my binder, I can add or remove elements as needed to fit with our family’s ages and abilities. I’m looking forward to being able to look through my binder while planning grocery lists and weekly schedules rather than panicking on the actual feast day and thinking, “We should do something to celebrate, but what?!?” And, of course, there is always room for an intentional decision to keep things simple or eliminate a fancy dessert or complicated craft completely.
My liturgical binder is just in the beginning stages, but it is already putting my mind more at ease as I look ahead to the joyful but often stress-inducing season that is approaching. Most importantly, I hope it will help me establish the richness of our Catholic faith as my children learn to truly live it throughout their daily lives.
Copyright 2019 Charisse Tierney