Day 22: Sunday 24 December 2017 (Fourth Sunday of Advent)

A special thank you to all those who have followed our Advent Calendar this year. We appreciate all the feedback on our resources and we hope that you will continue to find some of the content we shared useful all the way into next year. 

As preparations accelerate for the 9th World Meeting of Families in Dublin next August, the WMOF2018 is spreading a message of joy and love this Christmas through a special Christmas card that has been made available for family homes. 

The card is based on the official WMOF2018 ‘Icon of the Holy Family’ which is currently journeying to each of the 26 dioceses of Ireland – to encourage reflection and prayer in preparation for the World Meeting of Families. The ‘Icon of the Holy Family’ is accompanied by petition boxes, enabling families to write intentions and prayers. Contemplative communities around Ireland will pray for the intentions collected during the coming year.  

Due to unprecedented demand more than 700,000 of the Christmas Icon cards have been distributed to parishes for distribution to families at Christmas Masses. The cards have also been made available to religious orders and missionaries in Ireland through AMRI. WMOF2018 has also linked in with the chaplaincy to the Defence Forces to send 700 copies of the card to Irish men and women serving overseas. More than 35,000 copies of the card were distributed to dioceses in England and Wales. 

Commenting on the Christmas card initiative, Father Tim Bartlett, Secretary General of WMOF2018 said, “Pope Francis has asked that in the lead up to WMOF2018, families would be offered an opportunity to reflect on his document Amoris Laetitia(The Joy of Love). We currently have a programme of preparation in place for parishes and for families and our Icon is part of that programme. 

“Our Christmas card is a replica of the beautiful Icon of the Holy Family that we have commissioned for use as part of our reflections on Amoris Laetitia. When the doors of the Icon are closed, it looks like a house with front doors. When the doors are opened we see inside the Holy Family sharing a meal, and to left and right, the Raising of Jairus’ Daughter and the Wedding Feast of Cana. On the base of the Icon is the inscription ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (The Joy of Love), the title of Pope Francis’ exhortation on love in the family, the source of our reflections during WMOF2018.”

Father Bartlett continued, “The Icon card also includes the official prayer for next year’s WMOF2018 and is designed in such a way that it can be set up on the mantelpiece and used throughout the year or used as the prayer before the family sits down to Christmas dinner this year.

“Every home in the country will have the opportunity to receive one of our family Icon Christmas cards which parishes will make available at Masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are delighted with the demand for these cards which is unprecedented. 

“My hope is that families will take the card home from Masses over Christmas and use it as a source of family prayer and reflection as we continue our preparations for WMOF2018.”

You can find out more about the Christmas Icon Card initiative here

Readings for Sunday 24 December 2017 (Fourth Sunday of Advent) 
2 Sm 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16. Ps 88: 2-5, 27, 29, R/ cf. v 2. Rm 16:25-27. Lk 1:26-38.

Audio: Advent Thought for the Day

Each day during Advent we are bringing you an audio Thought for the Day. Today’s audio piece is a little bit special as it comes from Eliza aged 6. Eliza is a Senior Infant pupil from Dunboyne, Co Meath.

In this piece Eliza shares a medley of well known Christmas favourites. She also shares a special Christmas greeting with all those who have been following this Advent Calendar. Happy Christmas to you too Eliza!

Click below to listen to the audio.

The Words of Pope Francis 

Pope Francis believes that in a world where humanity is often wounded, mistreated, and dominated by a lack of love, the family is the “yes” of God as Love. In spite of all the pressures and difficulties it faces, Pope Francis believes that the family is still good news for today’s world.

In 2016, he wrote Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), a document about love, marriage and family life, and now he has given Ireland a special responsibility. He has asked Ireland to host the World Meeting of Families in 2018 and to prepare for that event by offering families, parishes and groups a way of thinking about and sharing his message in The Joy of Love: that the Gospel of the Family continues to be a Joy for the World.  

The Amoris: Let’s Talk Family! Let’s Be Family! programme is a response to Pope Francis’ request. The programme aims to support families and parishes as we set out on the journey of preparation to the World Meeting of Families, taking place in Dublin from 21st to 26th August 2018, and to continue that journey in the years ahead. 

During Advent we have reflected on some of the themes from Amoris Laetitia and we invite you to continue reflecting with us as we journey towards the World Meeting of Families 2018 in Dublin next year. You can check out the special Amoris programme on a new dedicated website

Let’s Talk Family – Thought for the Day 

Our family thought for the day for today is from Pope Francis. Please feel free to save this image and to share it across your social media pages. 

Let’s Talk Family – Pope Francis writing in Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)
The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will. But the indispensible contribution of marriage to society transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple. As the French bishops have taught, it is not born “of loving sentiment, ephemeral by definition, but from the depth of the obligation assumed by the spouses who accept to enter a total communion of life”.[60] – Evangelii Gaudium, 66.

Let’s Be Family – Random Act of Kindness 

 Say thank you to all those who have worked hard to make your Christmas special. 

Let’s Be Family – Act of Charity 

Make a promise to sign up to help out with some local charity in the New Year and carry your acts of charity into 2018. 

Let’s Be Family – Our Prayer Intentions for the Day to Pray Together as a Family

1. For the poor, the hungry, the unemployed, for people without homes,
and all those still struggling to recover from natural disasters.

2. For the Church: that this Advent and Christmas may be a time marked by simplicity, calmness and quietness
as we wait in hope and wonder for Jesus who is present in our lives now and whose future reign is coming.

Prayers for peace for our fellow Christians in the Holy Land
As we approach Christmas, the time when we celebrate the coming of Christ into our world, Bishops ask for prayers for peace for those in conflict anywhere in the world. Bishops prayed for, and extended solidarity to, our fellow Christians in the Holy Land. Bishops ask for prayers for all Christians around the world who are persecuted and murdered because of their faith.


christmas music 5
A psalm setting by Marty Haugen Lord Let Us Turn to You (Psalm 80 vs 1-3). Click here to listen to this piece.


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