Dear Religious Education Families,

Happy Advent to all of you! 

Advent is one of my favorite times of year. There is something beautiful about a season of the year devoted to the concept of waiting. As someone who can sometimes be a bit impulsive and impatient (especially at the supermarket and in traffic), a whole month dedicated to sitting in silence and stillness is a welcome concept. Advent helps train us to wait, but not without purpose. We wait with joyful anticipation, and over time we begin to realize that the act of waiting forms us just as much as the realization of our hopes. I hope that this Advent can be a time of joyful anticipation for all of us, as we await the coming of Christ.
Included in our newsletter this quarter are a number of articles and ideas to help you celebrate the Advent season. Read the thought-provoking reflections from Fr. Nathan, Director of Adult Faith Formation, Michael Rubbelke, and Seminarian Sam. There is also a calendar of events for the Advent season, and a list of activities for you to do at home with your family to celebrate the Advent season (revised and updated from last year!). Kim Slott also gives us a short reflection on Mary and the Annunciation that we can do at home as a family. 

We hope you find these resources helpful to celebrate this new Church year!

Happy Advent! 

We prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Israelites for a Messiah. This is a small way of remembering and praying with the extremely long journey of the Israelites as they awaited a Savior. 

In Advent, we're reminded of how much we also need a Savior and look forward to our Savior's second coming, even as we prepare to celebrate His first coming at Christmas. The word "Advent" comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming" or "visit." This special time of preparation also keeps in mind both "advents" of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come. In one sense, the Catholic-Christian observance is a bit like childhood Advent calendars, though it has a much more serious spiritual purpose for our hearts. It's meant to get us ready, not for a present-opening party, but for a time of conversion and celebration of the birth of Jesus!
The readings of Advent reveal a series of promises, full of powerful images that remind us of God's promise to send a Savior. The simplicity of Advent frees our imaginations to see and experience the Savior's coming with drama and joy - a banquet with "choice wines and rich, juicy food." They invite us to imagine when "a time will come for singing." They give us the opportunity to hope beyond our wildest hopes that "the lion will lie down with the lamb" and "they will prepare for war no more."
Please look at your schedule and add our 7:00 p.m. Advent Tuesdays of prayer to your calendar:

Lessons and Carols, December 3
Taize Prayer, December 10
Advent Penance Service, December 17

We will offer your children an opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Penance Services on Monday, December 2. You are more than welcome to join us!
Remember and practice the Savior's call of renewal this Advent, continuing to share the conversion of our lives with the God who made us.
Fr. Nathan Maskal
Greetings Religious Education families! 

December has always been memorable during my wife's pregnancies. I cannot forget the December night when my unborn daughter scissor-kicked me awake, or the holiday party where my recently-conceived son first announced his presence through my wife's surprise nausea. My children's hidden, dependent existence helped me see how Advent uniquely reveals Christ's presence in us.

The British Catholic writer, Caryll Houselander, describes this mystery beautifully:

"By His own will Christ was dependent on Mary during Advent: He was absolutely helpless; He could go nowhere but where she chose to take Him; He could not speak; her breathing was His breath; His heart beat in the beating of her heart. To-day Christ is dependent upon [us]. [...] During this tender time of Advent we must carry Him in our hearts to wherever He wants to go, and there are many places to which He may never go unless we take Him to them."

This Advent, pray about this: where is Jesus depending on me and my family to bring Him? Our Adult Faith Formation ministry will be offering many opportunities to help you answer this question. Please take an Advent devotional for you and your family to spend some time with the Lord this season. 

Our Parish Book Program will present a wonderful opportunity to find Christ hidden in Scripture through Dr. John Bergsma's accessible and helpful book, Bible Basics for Catholics.

In the spring, our parenting series on evangelization can give you some practical ways to bring Christ to where He is most needed in and through your family.

 Finally, our series on evangelization, "The 99" with Mark Hart, will help you experience Christ's love and share that love more profoundly with others.

Friends, I pray this season of Advent will help you to find Jesus in your life and bring Him where He is needed most. May the hidden and dependent Lord find a generous witness in you and your family!
Happy Advent everyone!
As you have probably noticed at Target and in every TV commercial since Halloween, it's almost time for Christmas. We begin the season with the beginning of our liturgical calendar and season of preparation for Christmas known as Advent. This is the first of two seasons of waiting and preparation that we experience in the Catholic Church, the second being Lent.
During this four-week season, we are being called to actively prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus Christ, the "word made flesh." It is a time we remember the promises that God made in the Old Testament and see our Hope come to life. Because of that it is a joyful time, and joy does not breed idleness.
This year look for ways to welcome the coming of our Lord. We remember how the Magi traveled far to see Christ and pay him homage. We too should be aware of the physical signs of our preparation (an advent wreath, a Jesse tree, or nativity), but especially our spiritual preparation. Maybe we start reading along during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass. Maybe we use and Advent daily devotion booklet, The Little Blue Book, or some other form of daily devotion. Let's be like the manger in a nativity before Christmas, and open a space in our own hearts to receive the Lord when he comes.
During the month of December, we are waiting for the birth of Jesus on Christmas. There are many preparations to be done during that time. As we are waiting, let us reflect and think about how Mary must have felt. The angel Gabriel came to her and told her that she was going to give birth to a baby boy who would be King, the Messiah the world was waiting for. That she had found favor with God and thus would carry and give birth to his Son, and she would name him Jesus.
Annunciation Scripture: Luke 1:26-34 & 38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
I wonder how we would feel to be visited by an angel, sent from God? If God asked you to do something so amazing as he asked Mary, could you say "yes"? Think about how hard it is to do the right thing each and every day. Mary never sinned and she found favor with God. Today we still pray with Mary and ask for her to help us.
Ask Yourself
1). During Advent, we prepare for Jesus. How can you prepare to receive Jesus this Christmas?
2). How would you feel if an angel visited you and asked you to be brave and do something for God?
3). Do you think that Mary knew that her baby was going to be the son of God? Did she know that he would die on the cross?
4). If Mary asked you what do you think she should do to answer God, what would you say to her?
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Looking for a creative way to celebrate Advent as a family? Below are some ideas for family prayer, devotions, activities, and more!

Create a Jesse Tree
Instead of putting up your Christmas tree on Thanksgiving, consider decorating a Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree was created to help people link the custom of decorating trees to the events leading up to Jesus' birth and the prophecies about him in the Old Testament as the Jewish people awaited their long-foretold messiah.  Each day an ornament is added to the tree beginning with Creation and then representing events through the biblical timeline to Christ's birth. Check out this link, or see us in the Religious Education office for more information on the ornaments used in this tradition.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 12
While not a saint, the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, remembers the appearance of Our Lady to San Juan Diego in 1531 and is an important holiday in Mexico filled with dancing and feasting.  (Think taco bar!) This miraculous event brought Catholicism to an entire continent and is a fascinating and illuminating miracle.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the subject of a film entitled 
The Blood & the Rose, and is featured in a number of documentaries available on YouTube.

Saint Lucy
December 13

Saint Lucy's feast once coincided with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year before calendar reforms, so her feast day has become a festival of light.  This would be a great day for a candlelit meal!

Read the Magnificat Together - Both an adult and a family version of the Magnificat will be distributed at the beginning of Advent to all parishioners. The Magnificat contains daily readings and reflections or prayers and can be a great way for families to bring communal prayer into your daily life.

Participate in a Community or Parish Service Project - The opportunities to help needy causes abound during the holiday season.

Click HERE for more ideas.
December 1
First Sunday of Advent 

December 3, 7 pm
Advent Lessons & Carols

December 6
Feast of St. Nicholas

December 8
Second Sunday of Advent

December 9
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary-Holy Day of Obligation

Holy Day Masses:
6:45 a.m.
8:45 a.m.
6:30 p.m.

December 10, 7 pm
Parish Taize Prayer

December 12
Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 13
Feast of Saint Lucy

December 15
Gaudate Sunday
Third Sunday of Advent

December 17, 7 pm
Parish Reconciliation Service

December 19
Last Day of CCD/CGS

December 22
Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 24
Christmas Eve

December 25
Christmas-Holy Day of Obligation

January 6
CCD/CGS Classes Resume
Saint Pius X Catholic Church | (574) 277-5760 | rkiley@stpius.net | http://www.stpius.net
52553 Fir Road
Granger, IN 46530