Catholic Activity: Penitential Aspect During Advent
Although Advent does not have a severe penitential aspect as Lent, the Church does emphasize the need for penance in preparation for Christmas. Here are some suggestions on how to stress the positive side of penance in the home.
The Church emphasizes the need for penance to help us to prepare for the coming of Christ on Christmas. The positive side should be stressed. Fr. Westhoff (Cf. Schmiedeler, E. Your Home, A Church in Miniature, I, Family Life Bureau, p. 22) suggests that mother and some of the older girls make clothing or similar articles to be given to the poor. Father and the boys might use their time to produce some simple toys or to patch some old toys for the same purpose. It would be an excellent idea to have your parish priest bless your gifts with the Church's blessing before you give them away.
For the children, the old custom of "making acts" should be re-established in our homes. "Being good" is too abstract for children to understand. Some of these "acts" might be to help mother with the housework, help with the dishes cheerfully, and many other little things. Have the children make little acts of self-denial such as giving up candy, or better, do something they have to do anyhow, but have them do it as a gift to the Christ Child. They might say some extra prayers or go to daily mass (with the family if possible) and receive Communion.
Activity Source: How to Make Your House a Home by Rev. Bernard Stokes, O.F.M., Family Life Bureau, Washington D.C., 1955