December Liturgical Resources 2021
November 28th / Mí na Samhna
First Sunday of Advent /An Chéad Domhnach den Aidbhint
The first day of Advent heralds the beginning of the Catholic Church’s new year. Advent (from ‘ad-venire’ in Latin or “to come to”) is the Church season encompassing the four Sundays and weekdays leading up to the celebration of Christmas. Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas. Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time.
The Irish Catholic Bishop’s Conference have an excellent resource for advent. In the form of an online interactive Advent Calendar, they ask you to journey with them through the season and offer daily reflections, audio clips, readings and ideas to help you prepare and guide your students in spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas. The theme of the Advent Calendar this year is Hope.
Now in its eighth year, our Digital Advent Calendar is offering resources for the parish, school and the home which are available behind a virtual door each day during the Season of Advent. Behind each door there will be content aimed at assisting people to pray and to reflect on how best we can keep Christ at the centre of our Christmas preparations during this special liturgical season. To click onto the daily Advent Calendar just click here: https://www.catholicbishops.ie/adventcalendar/
To add this year’s Advent Calendar to your website or social media pages please use the following link: www.catholicbishops.ie/adventcalendar. You can also follow updates on a special Advent Facebook page [Advent 2021] and on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #SharingHope and #LivingAdvent
Teacher: I have attached a copy of Day 4 of the Advent Calendar. It is such a rich resource that it will give you a sense of what is available each day throughout Advent. It would be lovely to make a folder for yourself for next year by just downloading each day as they come.
The Holy Father’s Intentions for the Month of December
Let us pray for the catechists, summoned to announce the Word of God: may they be its witnesses, with courage and creativity and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- There is an accompanying Group Reflection Sheet which can be downloaded from here: http://popesprayerusa.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/PWPN-December-Group-Reflection-1.pdf
Pope Francis’ Monthly Video
Each month the Pope provides a short video normally around 2 minutes and this month it is on the theme of Catechists.
Do you remember when you went to catechism? Perhaps at that time you didn’t realize it, but—as the Pope tells us in his video for December “catechists have an invaluable mission for the transmission and growth of the faith.” In the words of Francis, “Being a catechist means that you ‘are a catechist,’ not that you ‘work as a catechist.’ It’s an entire way of being, and we need good catechists who are both companions and teachers.” In many places around the world, “evangelization is fundamentally in the hands of a catechist.” Truly, it is an important mission. This video is for you and for the catechists you know.
December 1st / Nollaig 1 ú
Saints of this Day
Blessed Charles de Foucauld / Séarlas Beannaithe de Foucauld
Blessed Charles Eugène de Foucauld was a French Catholic religious and priest living among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria at the turn of the 20th century. He was assassinated in 1916 outside the door of the fort he built for the protection of the Tuareg and is considered by the Catholic Church to be a martyr. His inspiration and writings led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus among other religious congregations. He was beatified on November 13, 2005, by Pope Benedict XVI.
- For a lovely 9-minute review of Blessed Charles life and how it can be relevant to our own lives today see https://youtu.be/fbPFYIuuxq8
St. Edmund Campion / Naomh Éamann Campion
One of many Catholics to suffer at the hands of the English government in the wake of Henry VIII’s separation from the Church of Rome, Saint Edmund Campion could have led a privileged life as a renowned scholar but could not follow the newly founded Anglican faith.
He was forced to flee Britain because of his beliefs and, when he returned to his homeland less than a decade later as a missionary, he was executed for them.
Campion was eventually arrested by a spy while at Lyford in Berkshire and was taken to the Tower of London.
He spent more than four months imprisoned there, during which time he was offered freedom should he renounce his faith and, when he refused, was tortured on the rack. He was tried in court and found guilty of treason. As punishment for his crime, Campion, together with two other priests, was hanged, drawn, and quartered before a crowd. He was only 25 years old. He was beatified in 1886 and canonised as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970.
- Excerpt from https://www.jesuit.ie/who-are-the-jesuits/inspirational-jesuits/saint-edmund-campion/
- Enemies of Edmund Campion (1540-1581) disparagingly referred to his apologia as “Campion’s Brag,” the title by which his “Challenge to the Privy Council” is most commonly known today. It is perhaps the earliest defence of the faith to appear in English during the Reformation. The apologia can be found here: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/campions-brag-5297
- A 2-minute video on Edmund Campion can be found here: https://youtu.be/gxmCA7vDvZw
St. Eligius / Naomh Eligius
St. Eligius was a seventh-century saint who lived in France. He was born around 588 AD in France, near Limoges. Eligius founded the monastery of Solignac, which followed the joint rules of St. Columban and St. Benedict. He began missionary work into central Europe and cared for the poor and sick wherever he went. St. Eligius died on December 1, 660. St. Eligius was a widely venerated saint during the Middle Ages throughout Europe.
He provides an admirable model of how a Christian can work in and with the material world and yet continue to always serve God.
Excerpt from: http://faith.nd.edu/s/1210/faith/interior.aspx?sid=1210&gid=609&pgid=43531&cid=84209&ecid=84209&crid=0&calpgid=61&calcid=535083
December 2nd: International Day: Abolition of Slavery
The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, 2 December, marks the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949).
The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.
Did you Know?
Three cartoonists from Portugal, Turkey and Uzbekistan have won top prizes in an international cartoon competition aimed at raising awareness about modern slavery. They were chosen by a panel of judges and the general public, out of 460 entries from cartoonists in 65 countries, who responded to the challenge “What if your pencil was a tool against forced labour?”, Portuguese cartoonist, Gargalo Vasco was awarded the top prize.
December 3rd: Memorial of St. Francis Xavier / Cuimhneachán ar Naomh Proinsias Xavier
Saint Francis Xavier’s Story
Jesus asked, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matthew 16:26a). These words were repeated to a young teacher of philosophy who had a highly promising career in academics, with success and a life of prestige and honour before him. Francis Xavier, 24 at the time, and living and teaching in Paris, did not heed these words at once. They came from a good friend, Ignatius of Loyola, whose tireless persuasion finally won the young man to Christ. Francis then made the spiritual exercises under the direction of Ignatius, and in 1534, joined his little community, the infant Society of Jesus. Together at Montmartre they vowed poverty, chastity, obedience, and apostolic service according to the directions of the pope.
Reflection / Machnamh
“All of us are called to “go and preach to all nations—see Matthew 28:19. Our preaching is not necessarily on distant shores but to our families, our children, our spouse, our co-workers. And we are called to preach not with words, but by our everyday lives. Only by sacrifice, the giving up of all selfish gain, could Francis Xavier be free to bear the Good News to the world. Sacrifice is leaving yourself behind at times for a greater good, the good of prayer, the good of helping someone in need, the good of just listening to another. The greatest gift we have is our time. Francis Xavier gave his to others”.
- For more information see: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-francis-xavier
December 3rd: International Day of People with Disabilities
The Disability Federation of Ireland are throwing a purple spotlight on persons with disabilities this December 3rd. This year’s theme is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.” They have created a social media press pack which can be sourced here: https://thesocialpresskit.com/httpsthesocialpresskitcom
Second Sunday of Advent / An Dara Domhnach den Aidbhint
“As the journey of Advent continues, as we prepare to celebrate the nativity of Christ, John the Baptist’s call to conversion sounds out in our communities. It is a pressing invitation to open our hearts and to welcome the Son of God Who comes among us to make divine judgement manifest. The ‘voice’ of the great prophet asks us to prepare the way for the coming Lord in the deserts of today, internal and external deserts, thirsting for the water of life which is Christ.” — Benedict XVI
Check out: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2020-12-06
St. Nicholas of Myra / Naomh Nioclás as Myra
Not much is known about this 4th century bishop, but that does not diminish his popularity around the world, both in the East and West. It is known that Nicholas was born in Lycia in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and died in 352 A.D. as the Bishop of Myra. All other stories that surround Nicholas illustrate that he practised both the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. He was generous, strove to help the poor and disadvantaged, and worked tirelessly to defend the faith. St. Nicholas provided for the poor and sick and is the basis for the popular character of Santa Claus.
Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra, is undoubtedly one of the most popular saints honoured in the Western world. He is primarily considered as the patron saint of children.
- For more information: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2019-12-06
- And here: https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=371
- A clever short film by National Geographic on St Nicholas and how he became Santa can be found here: https://youtu.be/3jLO6A2NpPU a bit old but still interesting.
St. Ambrose / Naomh Ambrose
St. Ambrose (340-397) was born at Treves in Gaul, a territory which embraced modern France, Britain, Spain, and part of Africa. He studied in Rome and later became governor of Liguria and Aemelia with residence at Milan. While supervising the election of a new bishop of Milan in 374, he himself was suddenly acclaimed the bishop. He was only a catechumen at the time and was ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop on December 7. He wrote much on the Scriptures and Fathers, preached a homily every Sunday, resisted the interference of the secular powers with the rights of the Church, opposed the heretics, and was instrumental in bringing about the conversion of St. Augustine. He composed many hymns, promoted sacred chant, and took a great interest in the Liturgy.
Ambrose exemplifies for us the truly catholic character of Christianity. He is a man steeped in the learning, law, and culture of the ancients and of his contemporaries. Yet, in the midst of active involvement in this world, this thought runs through Ambrose’s life and preaching: The hidden meaning of the Scriptures calls our spirit to rise to another world.
- Click here for more information: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2020-12-07
Ambrose is the patron Saint of beekeepers, and I came across a lovely little video of the Saint. Although which would be ideal for 1st years as it is animated and provides a little insight into why he is patron Saint of beekeepers! Click here for the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N12o05wuVH0
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception / Solúntas Ghiniúint Mhuire gan Smál
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated today and is a holy day of obligation. The Immaculate Conception means is that God filled Mary with grace and preserved her free from all stain of original sin. Many people believe that the feast celebrates Jesus’ conception, but in fact it celebrates Mary’s Immaculate Conception; the fact that Mary was, from the very first moment of her existence (her conception), without sin, and chosen to be the Mother of Jesus.
- 8 Things to Know About the Immaculate Conception can be found here:
December 10th : International Day of Human Rights / Lá Tiomanta do Chearta Daonna
2021 Theme: EQUALITY – Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights
This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to ‘Equality’ and Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights. Equality is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and with the UN approach set out in the document Shared Framework on Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies.
Teacher: Bishop Ger is available and delighted to visit schools and meet with your senior students, in particular 6th years. In the year of the Synod, he is actively engaging in a listening process that enables our young people to discuss their faith and what they want or need from the Church at this time. If you would like to enable this to happen in your school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
December 12th : Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe /Féile in onóir do Mhuire Guadalupe
In 1910 Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared Patroness of Latin America, and in 1945 Pope Pius XII declared her to be the Empress of all the Americas. She appeared to an Indian convert named Juan Diego on December 9, 1531. She left a marvellous portrait of herself on the mantle of Juan Diego. This is such an incredible story as a lot of scientific research has been recorded in relation to the mantle.
This miraculous image has proved to be ageless and is kept in the shrine built in her honour, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In these days when we hear so much about God’s preferential option for the poor, Our Lady of Guadalupe cries out to us that God’s love for and identification with the poor is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself.
This is such a great story as it lives on today in the mystery of the mantle exists today and so many scientific studies are available as proof of its mysterious existence. What a project this could be for our young people to research the Mantle. There is a wonderful documentary (with subtitles) that tells the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe which can be found here https://youtu.be/uuLn3GUfGCA (20 minutes long) it becomes quite captivating. There is also a video on the miraculous aspects of the mantle (Tilma) which demonstrates the proof of its miraculous existence. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds7nD_QNeKA it is truly amazing.
December 12th :Third Sunday of Advent / An Triú Domhnach den Aidbhint
“Rejoice: The Lord is coming.”
Today, the third Sunday of Advent is called ‘Guadete Sunday’ which means ‘Joy’ or Rejoice. The opening antiphon for today’s liturgy asks us to Rejoice is the Lord always. Indeed, the Lord is near.
Today, on our Advent Wreath we light our pink candle to mark this day of joy. As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasises the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Saviour means for us.
Many examples can be named, to illustrate God’s blessing in our lives: reasons to be joyful. Like the northern Irish writer C.S. Lewis, we too can be “surprised by joy,” and re-discover gladness and meaning in life.
Ask each student to divide a page into six boxes i.e., one line down the middle of the page and two lines across. Ask each student to draw a symbol to represent 6 things they are grateful for in their lives. Some examples are family, friends, food, health, warmth, faith, grandparents, etc. It is always a positive exercise to take time out to realise all the reasons we have to be joyful and thankful.
December 14th : Memorial of St. John of the Cross / Cuimhneachán in onóir d’Eoin na Croise
St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) was born and died in Spain. In 1563 he offered himself as a lay brother to the Carmelite friars, who, however, perceiving his unusual talents, had him ordained a priest. When he was about to join the more severe Order of the Carthusians, the saintly Teresa persuaded him to remain and help her in the reform of the Carmelite Order. This reform of his order caused him such sufferings and brought him many trials. However, his sufferings served only to detach him from creatures. He had a great devotion to Our Lord’s Passion and voluntarily sought out humiliations. When Our Lord asked him, what reward he would ask for his labours, John answered: “To suffer and to be despised for Thee.” He died of a cruel disease, embracing the crucifix. Because of his profound treatises on mystical theology Pope Pius XI proclaimed him Doctor of the Church.
December 18th International Migrants Day
On September 19, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of commitments during its first ever summit on large movements of refugees and migrants to enhance the protection of refugees and migrants. These commitments are known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (NY Declaration). The NY Declaration reaffirms the importance of the international protection regime and represents a commitment by Member States to strengthen and enhance mechanisms to protect people on the move. It paves the way for the adoption of two new global compacts in 2018: the global compact on refugees and the global compact for safe, orderly, and regular migration.
One of every ten migrants is under the age of 15.
December 19th: Fourth Sunday of Advent / An Ceathrú Domhnach den Aidbhint
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” / “‘Sé do Bheatha, a Mhuire! Tá an Tiarna leat.”
This is the last Sunday of our preparation for Christmas, the anniversary of Christ’s birth. The story of the Annunciation calls to our attention God’s wondrous action in human history. God chose a human person to give birth to his Son so that all humanity would know God’s salvation. Mary, already full of God’s grace, was able to cooperate in this great plan for our salvation. Thus, Jesus was born as one of us, fully human and also fully divine. This is the mystery we prepare to celebrate at Christmas, the mystery of the Incarnation. In the model of Mary, we pray that we will be people of faith who recognise God’s saving plan for us and are able respond with obedience.
“Today is a suitable occasion to look right into our hearts, to see how we stand with God. During the week we shall be keeping the feast of Christmas. The Baby in the manger will remind us of what God has done and is still doing for us. What are we doing in return? Have we shown our gratitude by living as true followers of Christ? If most of us must answer: “no,” this is the time to change our course and return to the right road once more. God is asking this of us today. Will our answer echo Mary’s: “behold here I am Lord, your humble and grateful servant, let it be done to me according to your word”?
December 21st St Peter Canisius
St Peter was born in Holland in 1591. He intended to become a lawyer but joined the Jesuits. Through courtesy and learning he promoted the Catholic revival after the Council of Trent. His greatest work was a catechism of 2111 questions and answers published in 1555. He died in 1597. If you have too much to do, with God’s help you will find time to do it all. —Peter Canisius
Introduction to Christmas
Christmas is surely the most loved season of the Liturgical Year. Throughout this
wonderful time there will always be much hustle and bustle, shopping and baking and
gift giving. But precisely because of these human joys and preparations, it is important
to learn to keep Christ in Christmas, to remain rooted in the fundamental spirituality of
the Christmas Season. This is the joyful celebration of the coming of Our Lord and
Christmastide extends from First Vespers on Christmas Eve to the Baptism of Our
Lord, which usually falls on the Sunday after Epiphany. The mystery of the Incarnate
God is one so marvellous that Holy Mother Church celebrates it for eight days, each day
of the Octave being considered a “little Christmas”. For the Eucharistic Liturgy, the
Church is exultant in her finest vestments of white or gold, making use of incense, as
well as extra flowers and candles, to underscore the festal observance of the Lord’s
Nativity. The Gloria—that Christmas hymn of the angels—is sung once again. With
uncontainable joy the faithful raise their voices in numerous carols; and with humble
gratitude, they bend their knees during the Creed at the mention of the Incarnation.
There are four different Masses on Christmas—the Vigil Mass, Masses at Midnight,
dawn and during the day—each with its own distinct Propers and Readings. The message
of all the Readings is the same: ‘Today is born for us a Saviour, God-with-us, the Light
that the darkness cannot overcome.’ Only at the Midnight Mass, however, will the
faithful hear chanted the Proclamation of the Birth of Our Saviour according to the
It is fitting that the Christmas Octave closes, and the civil year begins with the
celebration of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary under her most exalted title, the
Mother of God. Other feasts celebrated within the Octave include: the feast of the Holy
Family, the feasts of St. John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents and St. Sylvester, and, in
vestments of red, the feasts of the martyrs St. Stephen and St. Thomas Becket.
The magnificent feast of Epiphany is celebrated with the same degree of solemnity as
Christmas. However, the Feast is not a repetition of the Christmas mystery, but rather the
manifestation of Christ, the light to the nations. On this feast the Church proclaims the
date of Easter thereby connecting and orientating all feasts to the greatest Christian
Solemnity. With the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Theophany) the season of
Christmastide comes to a close.
Excerpt is from www.catholicculture.org
I have attached a free liturgical eBook from catholicculture.org which can also be sourced here: https://www.catholicculture.org/ebooks/view_ebook.cfm?id=101
December 24th : Christmas Eve
December 25th : The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
December 27th: The Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph.
May God bless you all with Joy and Peace during this wonderful Christmas season.
All of us can be like John the Baptist,
Preparing the way for Jesus Christ in our families,
Among friends, in schools and workplaces,
Preparing a space in our hearts for love.
Allow time these days for prayer, for moments taken in a busy day,
Like stopping in the heavy traffic,
And just remembering that Jesus is near.
Take time for friendship, for love, for care,
For those activities that grow our friendship and love,
With the people that mean a lot.
Take the time these days for the poor,
For ensuring that someone’s Christmas will be better because of your generousity.
Then the songs will be full,
And the gifts will be reminders of love,
And Santa, the friend of children, will be like the Christ-child.
The love for God and others, will come to birth at Christmas.
(Daily Joy edited by Anne Holton/Prepare the Way of the Lord: author unknown)