To coincide with this Sunday, 3 December, the first day of Advent, Archbishop Eamon Martin will launch the annual online Advent Calendar on catholicbishops.ie. 2023 marks the tenth year of this popular seasonal resource. As a door opens each day, viewers will experience brief personal video reflections on the Advent season from lay women and men, young people and clergy.
Welcoming this year’s Advent Calendar Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “Advent is often described as a journey. Over the next four weeks we will journey towards Christmas while reflecting on the big themes and the personalities of the Advent season. Some of the major themes of Advent are: waiting and preparation, darkness and light, and the promise of comfort and hope.
“The Advent calendar invites each of us to make space for God in our lives every day over the next four weeks. It guides us along an Advent journey, pausing each day for a few moments to pray, reflect, and take some practical steps to enrich our experience of Christmas.
“Our Advent journey is more significant than ever this year as it takes place against a tragic backdrop of war, terror, death and destruction in various parts of the world. Our minds are troubled and our hearts are saddened. We watch and listen to the world news, often feeling powerless to do anything except pray and hope.
“In particular, our thoughts, prayers, readings and carols at this time of the year turn to the Holy Land in which the Christ child was cradled. Since early October that sacred place seems to have become an unholy cauldron of division, blame and recrimination. In this atmosphere of “sadness and pain”, the patriarchs and other church leaders in Jerusalem recently asked that Christians in the troubled region might refrain from their usual joyful celebrations, bright lights and decorations. Instead, they encourage their priests and the faithful to focus more on the spiritual meaning of this holy season as a gesture of solidarity towards all those who have been killed, injured, bereaved or displaced from their family homes.
“Although we are many miles from the devastation that war is causing nowadays – especially in Ukraine and the Holy Land – we might consider making some small sacrifices this Advent in recognition of, and in solidarity with, our brothers and sisters who are suffering so much. Participating in the Advent calendar, and following its reflections and challenges, is one small way of doing this. We all need ways of keeping our minds turned towards Christ, the Prince of Peace, and of renewing our hearts in the ways of love, forgiveness and healing.”
Archbishop Eamon concluded, “The Advent season speaks loudly of hope, promise and peace and, of course, the message of the Christmas angels: do not be afraid! I thank all the contributors to the 2023 Advent calendar, and I encourage all to set out, as the Magi did, and grow closer and closer to that moment when we experience the joy of beholding Christ our Saviour, born for us on Christmas Day. During this season we also journey inwards to prepare in our hearts, as Mary did, for the light of Christ. Over the next four weeks, let us walk together with family, friends and community so that everyone can experience the good news of this holy season, and in particular those less fortunate than ourselves.”
- Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop or Armagh, and Primate of All Ireland.
- Along with personal testimonies, the calendar’s digital content will include short videos and audio messages, seasonal crafts and prayers to assist keeping Christ at the centre of our Christmas preparations. All are welcome to participate and enjoy the contents of the Advent Calendar by clicking: https://catholicbishops.ie/adventcalendar
- What is Advent? Advent (from, ad-venire in Latin or “to come to”) is the season of spiritual preparation consisting of the four weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas. This is a prayerful time for renewing our experience of waiting and longing for the Lord. It is a time of preparation that directs the heart and mind to Christ’s second coming, and to the upcoming celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord at Christmas. Similar to Lent, the liturgical colour for Advent is purple since both are seasons that prepare us for great feast days. Advent also includes an element of penance in the sense of reflecting and preparing our hearts for the full joy of Christmas.