Friday, December 5, 2014

Advent Booklet 2014

Last week marked the beginning of Advent when we prepare, through prayers and contemplation, for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. As mentioned in my earlier blog, we had a very blessed first week of Advent as we were chosen to participate in the Offertory during mass. A week before that, our parish church has already started giving out advent booklets (which I collect annually). This year's theme is "Bearers of the Good News".

What I like about the advent booklet is that:

  1. it has the archbishop's advent message which is usually full of inspiring words relating to what's happening to our world these days and how we, as religious followers, can help bring others closer to God in our own small ways. 
  2. it guides you on what prayers and reflections are recommended for every week of Advent
  3. it provides list of hymns for the family to sing during the weekly reflections
  4. it has projects for families to do, have fun and learn from
  5. it give suggestions of activities to do for the whole month of advent, in case you don't have a list of your own yet
The Advent/Christmas family project for this year is the Christmas treasure hunt. I have learned a lot from the information given in the booklet. The treasure hunting activity has the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as its featured Christmas song. Did you know that this song originated in England between 1558-1829, a time when the Catholics had to disguise their faith? I didn't know that it was sort of a criminal offense during those years for Catholics to practise their faith privately or publicly. This gave way to the creation of this "catechetical song" as a way to help young Catholics learn and be familiar with the principles of Catholicism. "The song contained hidden meanings on the teachings of the faith." 

Some of you may already know of this but for those like me who don't (yes, this is actually the first time I am reading about this, shame on me), let me share with you what I have learned by reading this year's Advent/Christmas family project. 
  • my true love = God
  • a partridge in a pear tree = Christ
  • 2 turtle doves = The Old Testament and The New Testament
  • 3 French hens = the theological virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity)
  • 4 calling birds = the four gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke and John)
  • 5 golden rings = the pentateuch / first 5 books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy)
  • 6 geese-a-laying = the 6 days of creation 
  • 7 swans a-swimming = the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, counsel, understanding, piety, fortitude, knowledge, and fear of the Lord) and the 7 sacraments (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders and matrimony)
  • 8 maids a-milking = the 8 beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10)
  • 9 ladies dancing = the 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control)
  • 10 Lords a-leaping = the 10 Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Exodus 20:2-17)
  • 11 pipers piping = the 11 faithful apostles (Peter, Andrew, James son of Zebedee, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Cananaean)
  • 12 drummers drumming = the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed (catechism of the Catholic Church)
What a very creative way to learn about our faith, isn't it? I'm definitely going to read this to and with my boys as we go through the Advent/Christmas season.

For the Advent/Christmas treasure hunt family activity, here is what you should do:
  • draw or print pictures of the gifts from the song
  • print out words or pictures of the hidden gifts or further details of the gifts (optional)
  • hide all the pictures in the house for the children to find
  • once the children have found all of the gifts, place them in order according to the song
  • ask or talk to the children about what the symbols mean. You can give out clues based on the details given above
This is an activity that the whole family can enjoy and learn from, and you can add to your Advent countdown activities list. I sure did.

* Source: Advent 2014. Bearers of the Good News. Office of the New Evangelisation.

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