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Penance for the Whole Family This Advent

posted Dec 1, 2013, 9:58 PM by Noah Moerbeek
"Deny yourself completely to follow Christ; mortify your flesh. Do not seek comfort, love fasting." The Holy Rule of the Poor Knights of Christ, Chapter 4 of Good Deeds.

Please consider this Advent following a special Catholic custom that will help prepare your heart for the Christ Child and help teach children the value of penance.  Put out a nativity crib/manger at the beginning of Advent in a prominent place in your home and each time a family member performs some small sacrifice, a piece of straw is subtly put in the crib.

This practice accomplishes many good works:  it helps us constantly examine our conscience to see if we are "preparing the way for the Lord" by doing penance this Advent; it makes each act of penance into an act of love for the Christ Child, offered to Him for His pleasure and comfort; and it reminds us that our acts without Christ are as worthless as straw, but when offered to Christ are more valuable than gold. 

I have not yet heard of a better way to teach the importance of a penitential Advent to children.  We were so impressed by it that we made this posting to the website and built a bunch of cribs  and handed out bags of straw after Mass so any family that wanted to could do it. 

 "That virtue [penance], as far as we are concerned, is the greatest possible assurance of perseverance in the way of perfection – because it is, when one really looks it, one of the purest forms of love." ~Bl. Columba Marmion; Christ, the Life of the Soul; Bk. 2 Ch. 4 

May the Virgin Mary with her loving Child grant you the grace to have a holy Advent!