I’ve accepted it: Advent is coming. And soon.

Maybe it’s been made easier by how busy I’ve been over the last six weeks. The busy of this coming season will be a calmer version (with food! and song! and family get-togethers!).

I know I won’t succeed trying to use all of these resources, but I haven’t yet picked what we’ll be doing. And don’t they ALL look rockin awesome?

**And yes, I unabashedly considered this a Quick Takes post (6 + 1 = 7, as confirmed by my resident seven-year-old mathematician). You can read more over at Jen’s place.

Advent at Ephesus

From the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles

I heard about it on iPadre. And then I did something I rarely do: I bought music

I’ve already listened to it and I’ve already found myself having the same reaction as I had to the Christmas album.

I’m calmer. I’m peacefuller. I’m…ready for Advent? Could this be?

No, probably not. But this is my soundtrack for the season. And maybe beyond.

Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family

By Kathleen M. Basi (2010, Liguori Publications)

I picked this up when I was checking out selections at my local Catholic bookstore a week or so ago.

“I don’t really need another Advent resource,” I thought, and I actually believed that, until I spent a few minutes with this book.

It is the total “You can do it! Even if you’re Slacker Sarah!” resource. Basi recommends setting up a morning and an evening ritual for Advent. In the morning, she has a simple Advent calendar approach. In the evening, it’s time for the Jesse Tree and the Advent wreath.

Before you go and run like the overwhelmed mini-me you are, let me just say this: I think I can do this. And if not all of it, then some of it, with ideas for the future.

This is the sort of Advent resource I’ll be dog-earing and using later. There are a number of ideas and you could use them all (the Good Deeds Manger spells “mancub eating all the materials, even if they don’t seem edible to normal people” to me, but maybe next year…) or you could do what I’m going to do and pick a few.

The writing is accessible and approachable (which you know I’m a big fan of) and I think this book is going on my “Advent Favorites” list already.

A Catholic Family Advent: Prayers and Activities

By Susan Hines-Brigger (2012, Franciscan Media)

I’ll be honest: many of the review Advent books I’ve gotten have gone in my recent weekly giveaways. I just don’t have time or inclination for them all. (And why not share the wealth?)

This one was headed for that pile, but sorry about your luck…I opened it.

And was astonished.


Possibly even looking forward to using it. (This is saying something, people.)

It’s a full-color booklet, with a page for each day of Advent. The introduction promises, “This little book will help put Advent in a better Catholic perspective” and I would heartily agree.

Each day has a scripture verse and a short reflection. Then there’s a “Talk Together” question, a prayer, and…and these are actually pretty cool…an activity.

Here’s an excerpt from the First Monday in Advent, just to give you a taste:


O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the Light of the Lord!
– Isaiah 2:5


My daughter, Riley, hates the dark. In fact, she sleeps every night with a light on in her room and a flashlight under her pillow. When asked what she’s afraid of, she says she doesn’t know; the dark just makes her feel anxious. She has a point. There is something about the dark that can be scary. Maybe it is the unknown of what could be hidden in the dark. But, as Catholics, we take comfort in knowing that no matter what, we have the light of Christ to keep us safe and lead us where we need to go.


Dear Lord, fill our lives with your light and lead us through the darkness.


Pretend that there has been a power outage. Gather up a bunch of candles, turn off all the lights and spend the evening by candlelight. Light the first candle of the Advent wreath again. Play a board game, read, or just spend the time talking and reconnecting.

A beautiful and awesome resource for Advent. I’m hoping there’s one for Lent, too!

O Radiant Dawn: 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath

By Lisa M. Hendey (2012, Ave Maria Press)

This is the ultimate “aimed at busy people” Advent resource, and written by one of my favorite Catholic moms, no less.

Lisa Hendey has put together a booklet that’s affordable–it’s on sale now for $1 each if you buy more than 10 copies (use the code catholicmom12 and order by 12/15/12).

It’s also easy to use. Period.

What I especially love about this is that it’s one page a day, emphasizing spending time together with your family–if only for five minutes–and that it has options for making it your own (the discussion questions lead to that, as do the options for younger children).

I just popped it open and here’s the Third Thursday of Advent:

Gather your family or household around the wreath.

Leader:Come, Lord, bring us your peace.

Light two purple candles and the rose candle.

All say:That we may rejoice before you with a perfect heart.

All pray in silence or sing a verse of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

Read Luke 7:27

This is the one about whom the scripture says: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.”

Pause for silent prayer. Then reflect on or talk about:

Through the gift of Baptism, God claimed you as a child of the light. What does this mean for your life? How are you striving to radiate the light of Christ this Advent?

With younger children:

Ask your parents to share a memory from the day you were baptized. How do you feel about being a child of God? What do you believe God wants for you now and in the future?

Closing Prayer

St. John the Baptist, you were a voice in the wilderness announcing the promise of Christ’s coming. Pray for us now and help our Christmas preparations purify our hearts for greater love and deeper service. As we follow your example of action and faith, let us be a light to our broken world just as you were for people of old.

While making the Sign of the Cross, all say:

+ Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Amen.

Highly recommended, and if I don’t use it this year, it won’t be because I don’t love it as a highly usable and very applicable resource!

A Mary Christmas

By Kathleen M. Carroll (2012, Franciscan Media)

I decided I was going to read this like a normal book, here on the cusp of Advent. And then, in a struggle to be more like Mary, I’m going to hold its wisdom in my heart, to ponder it and let it lead me to Jesus.

Because this Advent time is about being led to Jesus. It’s about getting ready. It’s

Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families

Yes, this is my book. And no, I haven’t used it with my own family. Last year, after it came out, it was just too weird to try to read my own words to my kids.

This year, though, my seven-year-old is quite a little reader. She can do the reading.

That, and I sorta forget what’s in it. That should make it easier to approach it with less of a critical eye (no one is harder on me than myself, most of the time).

A few people have gushed on about how helpful it’s been and honestly, I want that for my kids. It’s why I wrote it the way I did, after all.

It includes a page a day, except for Sundays, when there are two pages and a little reflection for the candle you’re lighting on the wreath. Each day has a scripture verse, a brief reflection, a prayer, and an action. So you go through Advent using the think, pray, act model.

Each week has a theme and it continues through to Epiphany (I’m a big fan of the Christmas season proper, lemme tell ya!).

If you want to read more about what other people said about it, here’s the page with all the details.

* The Catholics Next Door are giving away a few copies.

In fact, I think I might just give away a copy of Welcome Baby Jesus to some lucky person…

Leave me a comment with YOUR favorite Advent resources…or what you’re going to use this year…or something to point me in another direction, and I’ll randomly pick someone. Contest ends on midnight Tuesday, November 27, so that I have time to pick someone and get it in the mail before Advent actually begins!