The first day of Advent heralds the beginning of the Catholic Church’s new year.  Advent (from ‘ad-venire’ in Latin or “to come to”) is the Church season encompassing the four Sundays and weekdays leading up to the celebration of Christmas.  Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas.  Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time.

We are delighted to be bringing you the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference Digital Advent Calendar again this year.  It went live on the First Sunday of Advent on 28 November 2021.

Now in its eighth year, the  Digital Advent Calendar is offering resources for the parish, school and the home which are available behind a virtual door each day during the Season of Advent.  Behind each door there will be content aimed at assisting people to pray and to reflect on how best we can keep Christ at the centre of our Christmas preparations during this special liturgical season.

The theme of the Advent Calendar this year is Hope. It has been a difficult year for so many people as we faced the ongoing consequences of a global pandemic. We are inviting people to journey with us this Advent Season by #SharingHope through acts of kindness and charity that all of us are encouraged to undertake during the month of December.

Welcoming this year’s Advent Calendar Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland said, “After another difficult year of living with the Covid-19 pandemic, the season of Advent arrives and offers us a new beginning and a promise of hope for better times. The First Sunday of Advent is actually the Christian Church’s New Year’s Day.  This year  – perhaps more than ever –  we need ideas and inspiration to help us delve deeper, to find that glimmer of light, that note of joy, that promise of consolation. I am very conscious that in troubled parts of the world the message of Christian “peace and goodwill to all” needs to be heard above the noise of war, the cries of the poor and the agony of the displaced and oppressed.  Our digital advent calendar offers ideas to help us spiritually prepare for our Lord’s coming at Christmas so that we are more aware of the suffering of our brothers and sisters throughout the world and of the things that we ourselves can easily take for granted.  Every day of our lives presents a moment for change and conversion and a reminder to look out for the presence of the suffering Christ in the sick, the poor and the stranger.

“Our digital Advent calendar is a helpful resource on our ‘journey’ towards Christmas.  By clicking on a virtual door we are inviting people to take just five minutes for reflection so as to find moments of peace and to rediscover the true meaning of Advent and Christmas.

“The seasons of Advent and Christmas occur in the depth of winter reminding us that Christ was born to bring hope to a darkened world. The Covid-19 virus may have struck at the very heart of our outreach and ministry to the sick, the dying and the bereaved; but, it could not, and did not, and will not destroy our hope and our conviction that God remains especially near to people who suffer, and God is close to those who are broken-hearted. As the prophet Isaiah said “the people that wait in darkness have seen a great light”.  During Advent, let us reflect on the uplifting promise of Christmas, that Christ is alive and that He is our hope.”

We hope you will join us again this year through the Season of Advent by clicking on the digital calendar doors here.

Note: The virtual doors above cannot be opened ahead of their actual date. All content will go live in the early hours of each morning.

ENDS