Day 23: Environment/Nature
1. Spend at least 30 consecutive minutes outdoors today. Acknowledge the beauty of God’s creation. IT IS GOOD.
2. DO SOMETHING KIND for the environment today.
3. Begin a life avoiding trash. Use dishes not disposables. Avoid paper prints, read online. Borrow things from friends and family instead of buying new. Shop second hand stores to recycle.
Day 24: Neighborhood/Community
1. Show gratitude for your neighbors. Bake simple loaves of bread and hand them out to neighbors.
2. Plan a block party. Provide an opportunity for neighbors to meet and greet. This is create a sense of community and safety for all who attend.
3. Help lessen the load of a struggling neighbor. Offer to carpool or run errands for them.
Day 25: Eucharist
Did you know that the Greek translation for Eucharist is Thanksgiving. This means centuries ago when Greek was the main language, Catholics were attending every mass participating in the Thanksgiving of the Eucharist. Go to mass today and listen carefully for all the terms used to describe this hour as a thankful time with God.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. While you are busy preparing your meal or your home what have you done to help a stranger? You could try something little like letting someone go ahead of you in the grocery line. Or pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line. Or go BIG by donating food to the many parish Thanksgiving dinners around the Diocese (Pep, Idalou, etc.) or signing up for a service event for tomorrow.
Take a moment in the hectic preparation to spend time with Jesus today. Stop by Christ the King, Holy Spirit or St. John Neumann for their perpetual adoration. Spend at least 30 minutes with Jesus in this quiet joy-filled experience. If you haven’t had confession in a while, schedule a confession with your parish priest so you can receive the Eucharist in a state of grace.
Day 26: Food and Family Have a Happy Thanksgiving and remember those with no food or family today.
While around the Thanksgiving table, encourage each person to share at least one thing they are thankful for this year.
Bring a meal and visit with the homebound, work at a soup kitchen, or visit the hospital today when people may feel the most lonely.
This next challenge may be a HUGE challenge (please modify as you see fit). While you have a captive audience at Thanksgiving, begin evangelizing them. Speak of your own positive experience in the Church. Clarify any misunderstood Church teachings your family may have. Say the rosary together as a family (try one decade at each commercial break during the game). Don’t break out the dessert until you have shown your family the love of Christ that is within you. And remember, Christ was persecuted so don’t be surprised if you get eye rolls, crossed arms, etc. But if your message is one of love you can’t go wrong.
Day 27: Gifts Today you may be thinking about what gifts to buy this Christmas. Put that thought aside and think of the gifts you already have. The non-purchasable gifts you can give to family, friends and strangers alike.
1. Acknowledge the blessing of your many gifts. Write down every non-purchasable gift you have that you can share with others. (Can you sing? Can you tell stories? Can you listen?)
2. Give each of these gifts away to a different person. Sing at a nursing home. Tell stories to children. Listen to hospital patients.
3. What would your family Christmas look like with no purchasable gifts? How could you give more of yourself this Christmas as an example to your family. Be an example to your family by choosing to give
Day 28: My Catholic Faith What is Advent all about? Why do we use the colors purple and pink instead of red and green? What is the point of an advent wreath?
1. Learn the answers to these and any other questions about the Catholic Faith you may have. Visit: usccb.org,
2. LIVE CATHOLIC. Pray around your advent wreath each day. Attend daily mass. Say grace before meals – even meals out at restaurants. Don’t get lost in the world. Be the light of the world!
3. Look for moments of evangelization. When a friend asks you “Why do you make the sign of the cross?” Instead of the cop out answer “It’s a Catholic thing” explain WHY!! This is your evangelization opportunity. I recently heard a story about an elderly Lubbock woman in an ARISE group who finally confronted her friend about her Buddha statues (and how they shouldn’t be in her home and she needs more Jesus) and her friend has now begun attending daily mass and studying the Catholic faith while encouraging her family to do the same. It took one conversation and one open heart to receive it. Don’t miss the open hearts around you!
Day 29 First Sunday of Advent The Reason for the Season
1. While praying this Advent participate in the anticipation of the coming of Jesus. It is easy to mirror the anticipation towards a new baby in your life. But He is so much more than that. He is the Savior of the World. We know His life story (so far). Pray in thanksgiving for everything He does for us in this world and the next.
2. How can you spread the Joy of Christmas this year? Do you participate in caroling in hospitals or nursing homes? Do you buy gifts for orphaned, fostered, sick and under privileged children? **I will never forget participating in a gift exchange with YCP in Dallas. My boyfriend (now husband) and I went to deliver the gifts to the family. We drove up to a shady looking apartment complex and knocked on a door not knowing what was on the other side. A black man answered the door and inside there were two little boys. There was a box television on the floor and no furniture. Not even a table to eat on. The little boys were ecstatic we were there with wrapped presents for Christmas. While I’ve donated gifts, I had never delivered them. That was an amazing experience. I pray you can have a similar one.
3. Write down your Christmas traditions and assess which are secular and which are religious. Remove the secular traditions from your Advent and Christmas and add more religious traditions. Religious traditions can be fun! Like baking a cake and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas day. Attending or participating in a live nativity scene.