Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, primate of All Ireland, has launched a specially commissioned 2015 Advent calendar on the homepage of the Irish Catholic bishops’ website www.catholicbishops.ie to coincide with the beginning of Advent which starts this Sunday.
Archbishop Eamon said, “I am delighted to launch this year’s online calendar which each day will reveal Advent information and prayer resources by clicking on a virtual numerical door. For many years we have provided online resources to assist with our Advent preparations, and this year we once again offer the faithful our novel online calendar for this purpose.
“The season of Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas. Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time. As Christians, we must always be prepared for the coming of the Lord ‘You must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do no not expect’ [Mt 24:37-44]. Preparation does not happen at once but over time and so each day of Advent amounts to a period of time which allows us to journey and reflect on the joy of the Gospel.
Archbishop Eamon continued, “This year, the beginning of our Catholic new year will coincide with our preparations for a Jubilee Year of Mercy which Pope Francis has invited us to celebrate from 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016. As Pope Francis said during his presentation of the Year of Mercy, ‘God forgives all, and God forgives always. Let us never tire of asking forgiveness’. I welcome the inclusion of materials for the Year of Mercy in this year’s Advent Calendar and I invite everyone during the Advent season to visit and to reflect on the information provided on our online calendar, especially the themes of mercy and peace”.
A popular feature from last year’s Advent Calendar was the audio thought for the day and this feature which will feature again on this year’s calendar will be voiced by a different contributor each of the days of Advent and will reflect themes of the Advent season. Contributors this year will include Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin; Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin; Father Michael Drumm, Chair of the Catholic Schools Partnership, as well as seasonal reflections by staff from the councils, agencies and offices of the Bishops’ Conference for example ACCORD and Trócaire and by individual students from Catholic primary and secondary schools. These audio recordings will be available on the pages of the Advent Calendar on catholicbishops.ie as well as on http://audioboom.com/IrishCatholicBishops.
The 2015 Advent Calendar will also include:
- The words of Pope Francis taken from his 2015 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si (Praise be to you), his 2014 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), his daily homilies from Casa Santa Marta and his Twitter feed;
- Mass readings and Saint of the day;
- Advent videos: blessing of the crib in the home, blessing of the advent wreath in the home, prayer when lighting the lights on the Christmas tree, family table prayer;
- Advent music;
- Video and text reflections from Pope Francis and Irish bishops
- Family prayers (mother and child, children, grandparents, parents and godparents);
- Prayers for the season: for families in need, for those suffering neglect and violence, for Irish emigrants, for those in prison, for those who are sick, for refugees and migrants; for Christians suffering in the Middle East and Iraq and for those in difficulty here in Ireland;
- Faithbytes: Short snippets from the Bible, the Catechism (including the Adult Catechism published by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference) and Share the Good News.
- Resources for Advent and Christmas from Veritas;
- Advent events in dioceses and parishes;
- Information on Trócaire’s Global Gifts for 2015;
- Food Bank Appeals from around the country such as Crosscare in Dublin and information on the work of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul;
- Advent and Christmas messages from Irish bishops in preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord.
<li>Information on saints during the Advent such as Saint Nicholas on 6 December;
Archbishop Eamon concluded, “As Advent is the season of preparation for the coming of our Lord, I encourage the faithful, notwithstanding our hectic schedule over the coming weeks, to make time to pray – alone and with loved ones – and by so doing to draw nearer to Christ.”