Are you looking for a way to keep the penitential spirit of Advent, but aren’t sure where to start? Try this Works of Mercy Printable Advent Calendar, with 24 gentle, easily-adaptable suggestions for Advent prayer, sacrifice, and service, suitable for all ages and stages of family life.
Three weeks ago, I broke my phone.
We were running late for Shakespeare club. I had my bag, my phone, three books, two water bottles and a writhing toddler in my arms. The car door slammed, the toddler bucked, and my phone hit the ground – hard.
Three hours later I stood in the lobby of the Verizon store, staring out the window as I pulled the same toddler from an iPhone 10 display. It was 77 degrees outside and two weeks before Thanksgiving. Workmen stood on lifts in the parking lot, hanging holiday snowflake banners from the light poles. Harry Connick Jr.’s graceful voice crooned about roasting chestnuts, courtesy of the strip mall speakers outside.
I was mad I didn’t have my phone.
I was irritated about the unseasonable weather.
And I resented – highly – the idea of Christmas being shoved down my throat.
My father was in many respects a liturgical hardliner: Advent was Advent – not Christmas – and if he had had his way, we wouldn’t have decorated the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve. But my sister and I were experts at the annual tradition known as “Tannen-beg,” in which the two of us would whine, complain, and harass him until he relented and put up the tree.
As a child I thought he was rather grinch-like. As an adult, I see his point. To the secular world, Advent isn’t Advent. It’s a pre-emptive Christmas celebration, with a focus on material things.
We are blessed with a wonderful pastor, and for years he’s referred to Advent as a “mini-Lent.”
He encourages us to use these four weeks as a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as we make room for Christ’s birth in our hearts.
It’s an intimidating challenge, isn’t it? The world is dressed up in baubles and bows, baking cookies and drinking champagne. How are we supposed to tune out the noise and keep the spirit of Advent when the rest of the world doesn’t seem to know it exists?
The answer rests in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
If we are mindful of their calling, we can keep that spirit in our hearts. Yesterday, I came up with the idea to create a Works of Mercy Printable Advent Calendar – 24 gentle, easily-adaptable suggestions for Advent prayer, sacrifice, and service, suitable for all ages and stages of family life.
Works of Mercy Printable Advent Calendar
The Works of Mercy Printable Advent Calendar is a simple way to help your family stay focused on the penitential aspects of Advent. I’ve included one activity for each day of Advent centered on a Corporal or Spiritual Work of Mercy:
- Feed the hungry and Give drink to the thirsty
- Go through the cabinets and donate extra food
- Give up a favorite snack for the day
- Offer hot cocoa or cider to the garbage or mail man
- Clothe the naked
- Choose five items to donate to the poor
- Visit the sick
- Make cards for children in the hospital
- Inquire about visiting hours at nursing homes and take a plate of treats
- Shelter the homeless
- Call your parish office and find out which families could use help around the house
- Visit your parish and pick up trash around the grounds
- Bury the dead
- Take flowers to the local cemetery
- Lay a wreath on the grave of a veteran
- Visit the Imprisoned
- Sign up for Project Angel Tree
- Counsel the doubtful
- Talk about your hopes and dreams. Make a plan to put them in action.
- Pray that God will grant you the grace to be a faithful witness
- Instruct the ingorant
- Learn one new thing about the Catholic faith
- Memorize a favorite Scripture verse
- Admonish Sinners
- Set a kind, good example for the people in your home
- Comfort the Afflicted
- Write a letter to someone you haven’t talked to in a long time
- Leave a special treat on the doorstep of a neighbor who could use cheering up
- Forgive Offenses
- Let go of a grudge you’ve been holding
- Make a date to go to confession at the next possible opportunity (today if you can)
- Bear Wrongs Patiently
- Refrain from saying anything negative about anyone today, yourself included
- Instead of criticizing someone today, say something nice about them
- Pray for the Living and the Dead
- Go through your Christmas card stack and pray for each family
- Offer a rosary for those who have recently died
Assembling our calendar was quick and easy
It took me less than 15 minutes, even with a bossy three year old underfoot.
Gather your supplies
You’ll need blank cardstock, yarn or twine, scissors, and a glue stick
Download and print
You can access the file here; check your email if you’re already on my list!
Assemble the pages
Glue together the blank sides of the corresponding number pages (with stars) and calendar pages (with text). Make sure the date on the number page matches the date on the calendar page. Cut along the purple lines (you’ll have 24 double-sided cards) and fold your cards in half
Hang your calendar
String your length of twine or yarn wherever you would like the calendar to hang. Use the fold to hang your cards in numerical order, or attach with clothespins if you like.
Use like a regular Advent calendar to count down the days!
I don’t excel in living liturgically, and I know we’ll probably miss a few days. But I’m excited to embark on this journey during Advent.
I look forward to making lots of room for Our Lord.
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