Advent is a time of expectant waiting, a time for preparing our hearts and minds for a special presence, for the celebration of the coming of Christ at Christmas. It is a chance to step back and prayerfully reflect and take stock of our relationships, with God, with the people around us and with the world we live in. Jesuit school communities around the world are living out this season by preparing in their hearts; organizing special prayer times and retreats; and in their acts by participating in social justice activities that express and deepen their Christian faith.
These words by Fr. Brian Grogan SJ express a deep Christian sense of being “men and women for others”:
When you allow yourself to be caught up into the divine dream for yourself and for the world, your reality is that of being-in-love — and you know it! As the three divine Persons are totally for-one-another and for-us, you become for-God and for-all-others.
The simple word ‘for’ carries a wealth of meaning: God is reaching out to me and I am reaching out to God and others. We are ‘for’ one another.”
Each month Pope Francis entrusts prayer intentions to his Worldwide Prayer Network, the Apostleship of Prayer. These intentions express his great concern for humanity and the mission of the Church. His monthly prayer intention (one month is universal and the next month is for evangelization) is a global call to transform our prayer into “concrete gestures” of service. It is a monthly action plan mobilizing us to work together to build a more human and caring world (popesprayer.net)
The 2018 December prayer intention is for evangelization and more concretely on the transmission of faith.
Evangelization: In the Service of the Transmission of Faith
That people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith, may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time.
Jesuit schools might find this prayer intention very relevant especially at this time of Advent, the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year.
A recent publication from the Jesuit Institute in the UK “The Jesuit Pupil Profile Booklet” has a section called “Faith-filled and Hopeful” where faith and hope are highlighted as being crucial to human growth and well-being. Here are some reflection questions from the booklet that may help us to examine how our school communities help pupils on their faith journey.
Questions for reflection . . .
- Does your school give hope by persistently building up the faith of pupils in themselves and in others? How do you build community?
- Does the school faithfully pass on the living Christian tradition? Does it really put Christ at the centre of everything it does?
- How do you notice when pupils lack faith and hope? And what do you do about it?
The Jesuit Institute (UK) also offers some very useful resources for schools as they prepare for Christmas. There is a short presentation that explains the meaning and symbols of Advent, a blessing for the Advent Wreath, downloadable images, some inspiring short texts, prayers and Advent videos.
There are many other Jesuit prayer resources that could guide us through the Advent journey.
JRS/USA produced an Advent Calendar with the hope that this will allow you to make this liturgical season a pilgrimage by accompanying refugees on their journey.
Prayer sites Pray as You Go, run by the British Jesuits, and Sacred Space, run by the Irish Jesuits, are collaborating this Advent on the theme “God With Us: An Advent Retreat with the ‘O’ Antiphons”. Available in English and Spanish.
Ignatianspirituality.com has a great collection of Advent resources, including weekly Video Reflections and offers links to other sites on the web. Its dotMagis blog offers a series of reflections filled with spiritual depth and wisdom but also practical suggestions on how to prepare for Christmas.
Creighton University’s Online Ministries have a great collection of texts, audio and video resources offering simple ways to enter into this Advent season, week by week, in the midst of our everyday lives.
Georgetown University’s Office of Mission and Ministry is offering an Advent daily devotional. Sign up online to receive the daily emails. Some devotional booklets form past years are also available to download.
Sacred Advent is a daily prayer break, received through email, that invites you to a step-by-step way of praying with a Scripture reading and related reflection points.
Share your ideas and school activities with others in Educate Magis Conversations
Carlos, a teacher in Galway, Ireland is asking for ideas for school Advent liturgies. “I was wondering what does your institution do to mark this liturgical time of the year. Particularly, I like to hear ideas for short Advent liturgies (20-30 mins) with small class groups (20-30 students).” Click here to share your ideas with Carlos.
Join this conversation by Ciara and let the global community know what your school is doing this Advent.