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Be Vigilant at All Times / First Week of Advent | The Bread for Nov 29 – Dec 5

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The Bread PDF


This week in The Bread:

  • Happy New Year! It’s the beginning of Advent—and a new church year. Are you ready? We’ve got eight practical ways to get ready for a great Advent.
  • This week, we celebrate the feast day of St. Andrew, St. Francis Xavier, and a boy who left home at a young age to become one of the greatest monks of all time.
  • Mary’s response to being chosen to be the mother of God has something to teach all expecting moms about their own call to motherhood. Read an exclusive excerpt from Susan Windley-Daoust’s forthcoming book, The Gift of Birth.
  • Play the Stump the Parents! game; this week’s category: Who is God?
  • Earn points with the Get Your Grace On game; this week, Pope Francis’s trip to Africa, kicking off Advent with blessings, and making straw for baby Jesus. You’ll find a handy scorecard on page 2 of the PDF version.
  • Find out about one family’s unique approach to making the saints a real part of their family.
  • Plus: Becky Arganbright on kids and confession, and Lynda Marie on what autumn can teach our kids about death..
  • And as always, Jen Schlameuss-Perry brings us Breaking Open the Word at Home, with insights and tools for getting more out of the Sunday Scriptures.


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Introducing Uncommon Wisdom

Thaddeus Jeremiah Wisdom always said he was plain common folk. It’s true that some might have seen nothing more than an ordinary, if kindly, elementary school cafeteria cook . . . but we kids always knew there was nothing common about Wisdom and his “upside, downside, hind-part-before-side, inside Kingdom of God.”

Introducing The Little Flower: A Parable of Saint Therese

Once upon a time, there lived a little girl named Thérèse Martin who lived in Lisieux, France.

Thérèse loved Jesus very much. She loved Him not just a little bit, but with all her heart! Loving God made Thérèse happy.

However, Thérèse was very young. She knew that because she was little, she could not do big things for Jesus.

She could not travel to far-off lands to tell people about Jesus.

She could not serve the poor like the great saints.

And she could not be like her older sisters who went away to the Carmelite convent, spending their days in prayer.

Thérèse wanted to do great things for Jesus, too. But how could someone little do great things?

Jesus often spoke to Thérèse’s heart, and one day, He answered her question by telling her the story of a little flower. . . .

Now through Dec. 14, get 20% off our new children’s picture books using coupon code

Get the book

This offer is exclusive to subscribers to The Bread


Sunday, November 29, 2015
First Sunday of Advent


The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
—Jeremiah 33:14-16


To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
—Psalm 25


May the Lord make you increase and abound in love
for one another and for all,
—1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2


“Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
—Luke 21:25-28, 34-36


Today’s readings have two major themes—hope and vigilance. We hope in the second coming of Jesus and we are vigilant in our efforts to live his love more perfectly in our lives every day.
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.



MONDAY November 30
St. Andrew
One of the first of the apostles to be called by Jesus, and the brother of Peter.

TUESDAY December 1
Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916)
The playboy-turned-monk whose writings and life in the Algerian desert inspired countless others to imitate his way of life.

WEDNESDAY December 2
Blessed Liduina Meneguzzi (1901-1941)
The religious sister who nursed wounded soldiers of every race and creed during World War II, known by all as an “angel of charity.”

THURSDAY December 3
St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552)
The young scholar who helped Ignatius of Loyola found the Society of Jesus; he brought the Gospel to India, Malayasia, and Japan.

FRIDAY December 4
St. John Damascene (676-749)
The monk who was one of the greatest poets of the Eastern Church, and a leading defender of the veneration of images.

SATURDAY December 5
St. Sabas (b. 439)
The boy who sought refuge in a monastery to escape abuse at home, and who became one of the founders of Eastern monasticism.



1 week to the Feast of St. Nicholas (12/6)
1 week to the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (12/8)
1 week to the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy (12/8)



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.


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

Bless your Advent wreath. [10]

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


Set up and bless your nativity scene or manger set;* hide the baby Jesus away until Christmas. Place the wise men far away from the manger. [30]

Go to Sunday Mass and identify at least two new (Advent-related) things in the church. [60]

Decorate your Christmas tree as an Advent tree,* with a minimum of lights and Advent decorations. [30]


Encourage your kids to do “good deeds for Jesus” throughout Advent by allowing them to place one piece of “straw” in the baby Jesus’ bed for every good deed they do.* [80]

Download the Advent calendar at USCCB.org and choose one act of service to do as a family this Advent. [30]

Donate to aid the refugee crisis. [50]


Have your younger children write a letter to Jesus about what they would like to ask him to give them for Christmas. See “Write a letter to Jesus” at pbgrace.com.* [40]

Show your kids a news story about the pope’s pastoral visit to Africa
(go to news.va/en), and try to learn three new things about the Church in Africa. [20]


Stump the Parents! Who is God?

This week’s category: Who is God?

Use the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church #32-40, or the equivalent sections of your favorite youth catechism. Some sample questions:

  • Can you say the Apostle’s Creed? (#32)
  • Can you say the Nicene Creed? (#32)
  • What are professions of faith? (#33)
  • Why does the profession of faith begin with the words, “I believe in God?” (#36)
  • Why do we say we believe in only one God? (#37)
  • What is God’s name that he revealed to us? (#38)
  • Why is it important that God revealed his name? (#40)

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.



8 Practical Ways to Get Ready for Advent
Are you ready for Advent? Here’s a checklist of seven Advent practices you can do with your family, plus a list of important feasts and holidays during Advent.

Turn Black Friday Upside Down and Inside Out
Tired of fighting the crowds for “deals”? Try one of these eight ideas for a more meaningful day-after-Thanksgiving/day-before-Advent instead.

They Turn To Gold Before They Die: Seeing Death Through Autumn’s Lens
How a walk through autumn leaves helped my son (and me) see the death of a dear friend in the light of heaven.
by Lynda Marie

Saints In The House: A Beautiful Way to Make the Saints Part of Your Family
Looking for a beautiful way to integrate the lives of the saints into your family? The Koop family created a beautiful display for their foyer that integrates photos of modern saints with pictures of their family. Here’s what they do.

Choosing Wonder (Part 2): The Call to Motherhood
Pregnancy is many things—exciting, nauseating, joyful, physically challenging—but it is also a vocational reality. As we await the birth of the Son of God through this Advent, we focus upon the maternity of Mary. One thing we can learn from her is what it means to be chosen for motherhood.
by Susan Windley-Daoust

Kids, Confession, and Coming Out of Hiding
My kids don’t like going to confession. That’s okay…I understand their desire to hide from God. But together we’re learning about the wonderful things when we step out from behind the proverbial “bush” into God’s merciful light.
by Becky Arganbright

Preparing Hearts and Homes | Breaking Open the Word at Home
Happy New Year! Today begins the new liturgical cycle, Cycle C, when we focus mostly on the Gospel of Luke. We also begin the Season of Advent, when we prepare our hearts and our homes for Christmas.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry

Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.