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Lord, Let Us See Your Face / Fourth Week of Advent + Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

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The Bread PDF

 

This week in The Bread:

  • It’s the fourth week of Advent…and the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (better known as Christmas) is coming up. We’ve got a handful of simple yet meaningful ways to celebrate.
  • What two Christ-related constellations appear on opposite sides of the night sky on Christmas night? What does the name “Bethlehem” mean? Who started the tradition of the nativity scene? We’ll answer those and other questions in a special Christmas trivia edition of Stump the Parents.
  • Heidi Indahl tells about the insights into Advent she gleaned from the time she spent in the NICU with her newborn son these past few weeks.
  • This Sunday, we anticipate the coming of the Lord with Mary, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist. Jen Schlameuss-Perry has a reflection for us.

Plus, we’ll be putting out another special edition of The Bread this weekend with a complete roundup of Christmas traditions you might want to try in the coming week!

 

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THE WORD THIS SUNDAY

Sunday, December 20, 2015
Fourth Sunday of Advent

FIRST READING
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel…
Micah 5:1-4

PSALM
Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Pslam 80

SECOND READING
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“
Hebrews 10:5-10

GOSPEL
“Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Luke 1:39-45

REFLECTION
Today’s Gospel treats us to the meeting of two impossible mothers.… This is a beautiful moment between these cousins as they each share their particular miracle, and as they recognize the miraculous in one another.
—Jen Schlameuss-Perry

This reflection continues in Breaking Open the Word at Home has more Sunday Scripture resources, including reflection questions for kids and adults; by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry.

 

THE CHURCH THIS WEEK

MONDAY December 21
St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)
The great Jesuit theologian, Catholic reformer, preacher, and Doctor of the Church who wrote a hugely popular catechism.

TUESDAY December 22
Blessed Jacopone da Todi (d. 1306)
The lawyer-turned Franciscan penitent mocked as “crazy Jim” for his austere lifestyle; composer of many hymns, including Stabat Mater.

WEDNESDAY December 23
St. John Kanty (1390-1473)
The Polish priest and theologian who served the poor and lived a humble, penitential life.

THURSDAY December 24
Vigil of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

FRIDAY December 25
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
The day we celebrate God’s Word made flesh.

SATURDAY December 26
St. Stephen (1st century)
The deacon who became the first Christian martyr.

THE WEEKS AHEAD
1 week until the Jubilee of Families and the Feast of the Holy Family (Dec 27)
1 week until the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the World Day of Peace (Jan 1)
2 weeks until the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan 3)

 

THE GRACE THIS WEEK

Try out a handful of these ideas this week . . . and if you want to “play for points,” record your points in the Get Your Grace On game in the PDF version of The Bread. You can add up your points at the end of the week, and give your kids an appropriate prize. Points are roughly equivalent to minutes, so adjust your points for extra time spent on family faith formation.

PRAY

Preview this Sunday’s readings with your kids. [20]

Pray an Advent prayer service with your family, lighting the fourth candle on your Advent wreath. [20]

Continue to pray or sing the O Antiphons.* [50]

Bless your nativity scene and Christmas tree using the prayer services available at the USCCB.org Christmas page. [40]

Begin Christmas morning with a short prayer before the baby Jesus in your nativity scene. [50]

 

CELEBRATE

Attend Mass on Christmas Day or, if possible, attend the beautiful Christmas Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. [90]

Light a Christ Candle (a large white candle decorated with symbols of Christ) on Christmas Eve and every night until Epiphany. [25]

Walk (or drive) around town viewing holiday light displays; sing Christmas carols as you go. [20]

Decorate your home oratory with a white covering for the Christmas season. [20]

 

SERVE

Use part of Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to help your kids make homemade Christmas cards for friends, relatives, or neighbors. [60]

 

TALK

Read a Christmas story from a favorite book; O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” and “When the Animals Talk” are available online; or visit the St. Nicholas Center for many appropriate folk tales and stories. [30]

 

Stump the Parents! Christmas Trivia Fun

It’s Christmas trivia time! Let your kids ask you one or more of the following questions…you can find the answers below.

  1. What does the name Bethlehem mean?
  2. What two Christ-related constellations appear opposite one another in the night sky during the week of Christmas?
  3. When does the liturgical season of Christmas end?
  4. Which saint began the tradition of the nativity scene?
  5. What are the three gifts that the wise men brought?
  6. How is every celebration of the Eucharist like Christmas?
  7. Who composed the hymn “Silent Night”?
  8. In what month is the Feast of the Annunciation celebrated? (Hint: This is when Mary learns that she will bear the Son of God.)
  9. What feast is celebrated forty days after Christmas?
  10. How many gifts in total are given in the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas?

Answers:

  1. The name Bethlehem means house of bread
  2. At about 8 p.m. on the 25th of December (and throughout the week of Christmas) the Northern Cross stands upright on the western horizon, just about to set, but directly opposite on the eastern horizon is Praesepe, the Manger, just rising. See more about the Noel Sky.
  3. Christmas ends on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
  4. Saint Francis began the tradition of doing a “mystery play” featuring the Holy Family on Christmas Eve.
  5. Gold, frankincense and myrrh.
  6. “Every Eucharist is like Christmas where the bread and wine are transformed into His flesh, His Body and Blood, and, in a sense, He is born anew on the altar.”
  7. Father Joseph Mohr composed “Silent Night” in 1816, and first performed it at a Christmas Mass at St. Nicholas parish in Austria in 1818.
  8. The Annunciation is celebrated on March 25, nine months before Christmas.
  9. The Feast of the Presentation, commemorating the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, falls forty days after Christmas.
  10. A total of 364 gifts.

How to play: Older kids and teens skim the text to come up with questions to ask their parents. Parents score 10 points for correct answers; kids score 20 points for stumping the parents. All points get added up for the Get Your Grace On game. See “Stump the Parents” at pbgrace.com for more ideas.

 

EVEN MORE FOR YOUR WEEK

Advent Reflections from the NICU
I was anticipating a restful, traditional Advent as a prelude to my son’s birth sometime around New Year’s Eve. But all of that changed when he arrived early, requiring a stay in the NICU—and a change in the way I approached my Advent. by Heidi Indahl
Impossible Mothers | Breaking Open the Word at Home
A reflection on this Sunday’s readings, by Jen Schlameuss-Perry.
Look for our wrap-up of Catholic Christmas traditions this weekend!

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