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In the Company of Mercy and Justice / Second Week of Advent / Immaculate Conception + Jubilee Year | THE BREAD for December 5-12

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This week in The Bread:

  • In this second week of Advent, we mark the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. We’ve got ideas for both occasions.
  • We also celebrate the life of St. Nicholas, the fascinating fourth-century bishop who inspired the legend of Santa Claus. We’ll share some traditional ways to celebrate his life, plus some cool resources for telling his story.
  • Tired and discouraged? Becky Arganbright and Heidi Indahl have been there, too, and this week they offer a bit of encouragement.
  • Play the Stump the Parents! game; this week, we ask: What is the central mystery of the Christian faith? (Stumped yet? We’ve got your cheat sheet.)
  • Earn points with the Get Your Grace On game; you’ll find a handy scorecard on page 2 of the PDF version.
  • Speaking of the PDF version, we’ve tightened up page 2 to make room for you to record your family’s prayer intentions for the week; we’ve got a few prayer prompts to go with it.
  • 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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Sunday, December 6, 2015
Second Sunday of Advent
» Feast of St. Nicholas


. . . for God is leading Israel in joy
by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.
—Baruch 5:1-9


The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
—Psalm 126


I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
—Phillipians 1:4-6, 8-11


A voice of one crying out in the
desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths. . . .”
—Luke 3:1-6


This Sunday, we are reminded of God’s promise to restore us to right relationship with him, and our role in that restoration. When we invite Jesus into our hearts, God begins to remove anything that would stand between us and God.
—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 December 7
St. Ambrose (340-397)
The bishop who stood up to emperors, composed new hymns, ddeveloped Christian doctrine, and converted Augustine.

TUESDAY December 8
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception*
Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy Begins*

WEDNESDAY December 9
St. Juan Diego (1474-1548)
The humble Mexican Indian to whom the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared on this date in 1531.

THURSDAY December 10
Blessed Adolph Kolping (1813-1865)
The shoemaker-turned-priest who ministered to young working men in the cities of Germany; founder of the Young Workmen’s Society (now the Kolping Society).

FRIDAY December 11
Venerable Fulton Sheen (1875-1979)
The American archbishop who became the premiere Catholic evangelist of his time, via award-winning radio and
television programs.

SATURDAY December 12
Our Lady of Guadalupe
The “beautiful lady” who appeared to Juan Diego as an Aztec princess who called herself “mother of the true God.”


1 week until Pope Francis’s birthday (Dec 17)




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]

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

Pray the Jubilee Year of Mercy Prayer for family prayer this week. [10]



Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6) by having kids leave their shoes by the door (possibly filled with hay or carrots). Fill the shoes with appropriate treats (chocolate “coins” and candy canes, both symbols of St. Nicholas). Tell the story of the “real” Santa Claus. See pbgrace.com.* [25]

Go to Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation in the U.S. [60]

Tell the story of Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe on her feast day (Dec. 12); print out her image and place it on your prayer table during family prayer. [25]



Mark the Jubilee Year of Mercy by making a family commitment to practicing one or more of the works of mercy, either at home or elsewhere, this week.* [80]



Make simple Jesse Tree ornaments with your kids to hang on your Advent Tree—or make them ahead, and use them to teach salvation history. [30]

Explain the meaning of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception* to your kids on Dec. 8. Hint: It’s about Mary’s conception, not Jesus’. [15]


Stump the Parents! Who is God?

This week’s category: Who is God? (Round 2)

Use the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church #41-50, or the equivalent sections of your favorite youth catechism. Some sample questions:

  • In what way is God truth? (#41)
  • How does God reveal himself as love? (#42)
  • What does it mean to believe in only one God? (#43)
  • What is the central mystery of Christian faith? (#44)
  • What did Jesus Christ reveal about the Father? (#46)
  • Who is the Holy Spirit revealed to us by Jesus? (#47)
  • How does the Church express its trinitarian faith? (#48)
  • How do the three divine persons work? (#49)
  • What does it mean to say God is almighty? (#50)

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.



Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas
The fourth-century bishop did more than inspire the tradition of Father Christmas and Santa Claus. Here are some ways to celebrate the life of this saint.

How Habits of Intentional Living Carried Us Through Our Season of Grief
When a medical crisis threw our family into chaos last year, intentional family living was sidelined. And yet, it was the goals, priorities, and habits that we had practiced for so long that helped get us through that turbulent time intact.
by Heidi Indahl

Take Heart, Tired and Discouraged Parents: God Is Sending You His Smile
Managing three small children in the back of a crowded Easter Sunday service left me in tears, But then God sent me an understanding smile from across the room.
by Becky Arganbright

Being Restored in Christ | Breaking Open the Word at Home
This Sunday, we are reminded of God’s promise to restore us to right relationship with him and our role in that restoration.
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.