Now is the time to make time to prepare the heart and mind for Christmas.
“If we don’t plan ahead and commit to finding meaningful ways through all of the busyness of the season to ‘ponder these things and treasure them in our heart,’ the meaning of Advent will be lost,” cautioned LeAnn Korsmeyer, the Jefferson City diocese’s director of parish and charitable services.
Designed specifically for this diocese, Dominican Sister Janet Schaeffler created a four-part weekly program to be taken up by small, faith sharing groups this Advent. It also has adaptations so that families and individuals can use it in their homes.
Titled “Prepare Ye,” it is a resource in English and Spanish for praying, reflecting, discussing and putting into action the reading for each Sunday of Advent.
It includes a special section of activities for families with younger children.
Advent is the Church’s four-week season of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. It begins on Sunday, Nov. 28.
“Prepare Ye” is available in booklet form from the diocesan Chancery offices as well as online at diojeffcity.org.
“Small group faith sharing is how we build-up lasting communities of faith in our parishes,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
She noted that “Prepare Ye” draws upon important elements of the diocese’s pastoral plan, “A Steward’s Journey,” including collaboration, co-responsibility and welcoming.
She said the inevitable noise and distractions of the season, amplified by polarization, uncertainty and the COVID pandemic, will make this Advent a particularly ideal time for people to stop, gather, pray and set their minds and hearts on something greater.
“We really want people to take the time, especially this year, to reflect together on what Advent really means,” she said.
With help from the Holy Spirit, participants will prayerfully ponder such questions as: “What does Advent mean? What is the message behind Advent — the preparation and the expectation of Christ’s coming, the gift that Christ Jesus is to us? The gift that God gave to us through His Son Jesus Christ?”
Mrs. Korsmeyer emphasized that while the program is ideal for everybody, it’s particularly helpful for families.
“It’s a way to push lovingly back at things that tend to distract us as we prepare for our promised Savior and ponder the significance of His coming,” she said.
“Prepare Ye” includes a section for each week of Advent — three focusing on Jesus’s birth, the last one focusing on His Second Coming.
“We begin with a Scripture reading, followed by a reflection and questions for conversation,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “Then we move into a real-life story that helps illustrate the theme for the week.”
Personalities range from St. Teresa of Kolkata to Ed Mitchell, who traveled to the Moon aboard Apollo 14.
“Each section closes with an Advent action,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
There’s also a family corner, with simple, age-appropriate questions and discussion topics parents can spend time sharing with their children.
“There’s even an image for children — or adults! — to color each week,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
“What we need”
Sr. Janet, the program’s author, is faith formation director for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
She has written hundreds of articles and several publications.
She leads retreats and days of recollection, online classes for the University of Dayton and Boston College, and serves as a pastoral services team member for Renew International.
She helped prepare the draft of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ pastoral plan for adult faith formation, “Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us.”
“She is excellent,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “What she has given us is just too good to pass up.”
“Prepare Ye” promotes experiencing the congregation as a community, not just as individuals.
“It ties into the notion that we work better in community, that we grow stronger in community, and that’s one of the things we’ve been lacking since the pandemic started — the ability to spend time together and build each other up,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
“That’s really what we need. That’s really what this program is intended to do,” Mrs. Korsmeyer stated.
For one and all
People who follow the Diocese of Jefferson City on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will see excerpts and discussion questions from “Prepare Ye” throughout Advent.
While “Prepare Ye” can work as a weekly devotional for individuals, it’s designed to stoke lively conversations.
Some people might prefer to organize Zoom meetings with other participants if they can’t leave home.
“If you’re unable to able to meet in a group, try the resource on your own, and then think about picking up the phone to discuss something you read with someone you care about,” Mrs. Korsmeyer said.
Booklets cost $3 apiece at the Chancery, 2207 W. Main St. in Jefferson City.
The online version is free of charge.
Contact Mrs. Korsmeyer at email@example.com 573-635-9127, ext. 222, for information.