Catholic Activity: Advent and the Year of the Eucharist
Some suggestions for Advent during the Year of the Eucharist, 2004-2005.
The season of Advent prepares us for properly celebrating the birth of the Redeemer. We remember the birth of Christ over 2000 years ago, but unless Christ is also born in our own souls the event will mean nothing to us. This Advent falls during Pope John Paul's declared "Year of the Eucharist." The Pope encourages the focus of this Year to be on a deeply spiritual level, with the Year being "intensely Eucharistic; in the Sacrament of the Eucharist the Saviour, who took flesh in Mary's womb twenty centuries ago, continues to offer himself to humanity as the source of divine life." (Mane nobiscum Domine).
The Eucharist is a mystery of Light. Throughout the season of Advent the Church points to the coming of the Light of the World. We are awaiting the birth of the Messiah. The Liturgy commemorates salvation history, the prophets and the people of the Old Testament, waiting in darkness to see the Light. Mary was the first tabernacle, carrying Christ in her womb. She is "woman of the Eucharist" and our model. By putting Holy Mass and the Eucharist at the center of our lives, and being "taught" by Mary, we will enter more deeply in Christ's coming, and God prepares our souls for the coming of His Son.
During Advent, add some spiritual activities, such as attending Mass, visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and keeping Sunday holy. To help reinforce the Year of the Eucharist in teaching the children in our home, here are some other highlighted activities and recipes.
- The Advent Wreath This is the most popular Advent tradition, with a strong emphasis on the coming of the Light of the World. More candles are lit the closer we come to Christmas, and the closer we are to receive Him in our hearts and in Holy Communion.
- Jesse Tree, Old Testament Salvation History The Jesse Tree is one way to commemorate the memorial of salvation history, prefigured in the Old Testament, including types of Christ and prefigures of the Eucharist. Here is an alternative set of Jesse Tree symbols, which include symbols of the Eucharist, such as Bethlehem, "House of Bread", Manna, and the Ark of the Covenant.
- December 13: St. Lucy, Feast of Light Lucy, or Lucia means Light. Her feast originally coincided with the winter solstice, which marked the shortest day of the year. With her feast day we watch for the Light of the World to come, and many of these feastday customs bring home the mystery of Light.
- Christmas Wheat Also known as "St. Lucy's Wheat" is a Hungarian custom of planting wheat seeds. The symbolism points back to the Eucharist, the Bread of Life.
- Lebkuchen or Lifecake An excellent recipe that points back to the Bread of Life. Read about the history of Lebkuchen.
- Breads of Christmas Bread always points back to the Eucharist. The baking for these Christmas breads occurs during Advent, reminding us of the expectation of Jesus, the Bread of Angels.
- Oplatek or Bread of Angels This is an old Polish custom of exchanging large oval-shaped wafers with figures imprinted on the front reminds us of our daily bread and the Bread of Life who came into the world.
Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2012 by Jennifer Gregory Miller