As churches close, share hope and mark Advent with online calendar
THE first day of Advent heralds the beginning of the Catholic Church's new year.
Advent - from 'ad-venire' in Latin, meaning 'to come to' - is the Church season encompassing the four Sundays and weekdays leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
The season is a time of spiritual preparation for the Lord's coming at Christmas and also points to the second coming of Christ at the end of time.
The Catholic Church in Ireland has developed a tradition - now in its seventh year - of offering an online interactive Advent Calendar, with the 2020 edition due to go live on November 29, the First Sunday of Advent.
Although the online Advent Calendar includes resources for parish and school use, it has also been developed with family and private use at home in mind - perhaps particularly relevant as Covid-19 restrictions mean churches will be closed as Advent begins.
There is a virtual 'door' for each day of the season; behind each, can be found content aimed at assisting with prayer and reflection on how to keep Christ at the centre of Christmas preparations.
The theme of the Advent Calendar this year is 'hope' - apt in this difficult year of global pandemic.
People are also invited to use the hashtag #SharingHope on social media and highlight the acts of kindness and charity that are encouraged during Advent.
The online Advent Calendar can be found here from Sunday.