Tag Archives: prayer

Advent Begins

The season of Advent begins today as Christian families prepare for Christmas by reflecting on the circumstances around the birth of Jesus Christ through prayer, repentance, and fasting.

Advent originally began in the 4th century to anticipate the Epiphany, the Christian holiday when the wise men came to see the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. This tradition was changed by Saint Gregory the Great in the 6th century to reflect anticipation over Christmas.

Many families mark the season of Advent by lighting candles on their own Advent wreath. Each week, beginning on November 27 this year, people light one of four candles on the Advent wreath and say special prayers at dinner after they have blessed their food.

This Christian tradition is very similar to the Jewish Hanukkah menorah and the African kinara that is lit during Kwanzaa.

The Advent wreath has four candles and a new candle is lit during each of the four weeks of Advent. The first candle to be lit is purple. This color is meant to symbolize prayer, repentance, and royalty since Christians are anticipating the coming of a king.

The second week, a different purple candle is lit along with the first purple candle.

During the third week, a pink candle, symbolizes joy or rejoicing, is lit along with the first two purple candles. This is Gaudette Sunday, the midpoint of Advent, and a time when Christians turn their thoughts to celebration and rejoicing over the coming of Christmas.

During the final week, a purple candle is again lit, along with the other three candles.

On Christmas Day, a fifth, white candle in the center of the wreath, can be lit. This white candle represents Jesus and the idea that through Jesus sins are forgiven.

In many Protestant churches, four red candles are used instead of the three purple and one pink candle.

The wreath itself is round, symbolizing the fact that God has no beginning or end. The wreath is made from evergreen trees, which stay green year-round and mean continuous life. The holly in the wreath symbolizes the suffering of Jesus on the cross when he was given a crown of thorns.

For more information about the history of the Advent wreath in the Catholic church, read this.

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In the News: Japan

Japanese earthquake and tsunamiThe earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on Friday, March 11 has also led to a crisis with several nuclear reactors in that country.

The news has been full of videos, first-person accounts, and statistics about the situation and children are understandably upset and concerned.

One of the best things parents can do in these circumstances is to turn the TV off. Repeatedly watching the same footage can give children the impression that an event is happening over and over again.

At the same time, it is important to talk to children about what they have seen and heard. They may have questions about what is going on – and whether or not it will affect them, their family, and their friends.

Try to reassure your child that you are prepared for an emergency should it arise close to home. Involve your child in a discussion of what you would do in an emergency. Go over your family plan in cases of an emergency such as a fire, flood, or storm. If you don’t have a family plan, consider creating one.

Enlist their ideas about things you can do to feel more secure. They may suggest storing fresh water and non-perishable food items for your family in case of an emergency.

Talk about ways your family can help the victims of these disasters in Japan. You may want to donate money through the Red Cross or another relief organization. You may have friends or family with connections to Japan who can offer other suggestions. It may help your children to pray for the Japanese people in these difficult times.

It’s understandable to want to shield our children from the sad things in life. But if we talk to them and help them find ways to cope with how they feel we’re actually helping our children become more resilient – and therefore better able to cope with the challenges that life often presents.

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