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Delivering food, shelter, and hope to the poorest of the poor
This guide is intended as a companion to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Liturgical Calendar. It offers reflections and family-friendly activities that align with the Sunday Mass Readings of Advent.
Our prayer is that this guide will help your family grow in faith — giving them opportunities to learn, to discuss Christ’s Gospel of hope, and to work together to share God’s love this Advent season.
We hope each activity reaffirms the importance of Catholic Social Teaching and the Corporal Works of Mercy as we unite through Christ to bless the poor in joyful service.
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus,” which means “coming,” and we Catholics fittingly celebrate the Advent season by preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus! During these weeks, we prepare our hearts for the anniversary of Jesus’ birth, seek ways to receive him into our lives, and reflect on the time our Lord will come again.
Jesus’ first coming
More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem. He was fully God and fully man. He came to teach us his ways, to give us his example of love, and, ultimately, to save us from our sins.
Christ alive in us
After dying on the cross, Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into heaven — but before he left, he said he would send the Holy Spirit to help us. When we put our trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts. The Holy Trinity is alive in us, and we can walk with Christ every day!
Jesus’ second coming
Jesus promised that he will come again! Acts 1:11 tells us: “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” We look forward to Jesus’ second coming with excitement, eagerly awaiting the day that he returns and makes things right.
PRAY AND FAST : Whenever we want to get close to God, praying and fasting are great places to start! By praying both alone and together, we join our hearts with Christ, and by fasting, we make room for the Holy Spirit to do a special work in us.
SERVE THE POOR : In Matthew 25, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” This means that when we serve those in need, we are really serving Jesus himself! Recognizing Christ in the poor is one of the best ways that we can celebrate Jesus and prepare our hearts for him.
BUY OR MAKE AN ADVENT WREATH : The Advent wreath is one of the most popular Advent traditions, and it offers a special way to commemorate each week of the season. (See below.)
1.) Have your children trace their hands on the green construction paper. Once the tracing is complete, cut out each handprint. Repeat this process until each child has enough hands to form the shape of a wreath.
2.) Glue or tape the paper hands together in a circle, making the wreath.
3.) Using glue or tape, wrap three cardboard tubes in purple construction paper, one in pink and a longer one in white.
4.) These tubes represent the Advent candles. Place the colored “candles” on the wreath, with the white candle in the center. Each week, fill each tube with yellow or orange tissue paper to represent the lighting of the candles.
• Green construction paper or card stock
• 1 sheet of pink paper
• 3 sheets of purple paper
• 1 sheet of white paper
• 5 cardboard tubes
• Yellow or orange tissue paper
• Glue or tape
The Holy Family found no room at the inn, so Jesus was born into the humblest of circumstances. Reflecting on this, we believe sheltering vulnerable families is the perfect way to prepare our hearts for Christ’s birth — and for his glorious second coming!
In developing countries such as Guatemala, many children do not have safe homes in which to live, sleep, play and grow. Their families are praying for peace and safety, and by using this activity guide, you can help answer their prayers!
As you journey through the weeks of Advent, work with your family to complete the reflections and activities. Each week, you’ll learn more about the needs of families in Guatemala and take action to change their lives. Then, there will be an opportunity for us to join together as concerned and compassionate Catholics to bless 159 families with safe, new houses!
The families you are helping live in the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Lima and the Diocese of Suchitepéquez-Retalhuleu in southern Guatemala. The stars on this map show you where they are!
1.) What does Advent mean to you?
2.) What do you like best about the Advent season? What are you looking forward to this year?
3.) Is there anything you don’t understand about Advent or our mission to build homes for families in Guatemala? Do you have any questions? (Take some time to answer any questions the children may have.)
Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ: he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples, he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us, he is the Savior of every nation. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation. May he come quickly and not delay. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(2022 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)