Tradition, innovation and charity on the way to Christmas

In the pastoral letter sent to the Austrian faithful, on the occasion of Advent 2022, the Austrian bishops wanted to offer a key to understanding trust and hope for the period of preparation for the birth of Emmanuel: “It is not easy for anyone to bear the current uncertainty and the many unanswered questions. Where does reliable hope come from, where does true joy of life come from? We all know the feeling of helplessness and tiredness. In any case, trust is more than naive optimism.

Those who live with trust have a clear vision of the seriousness of a situation, but they don’t let themselves be paralyzed. Confidence gives courage to act and is contagious to others.

With great gratitude we look to the many people who confront, comfort, accompany, help or support people in need with their donations in their work or volunteering. They are a source of hope for all of us.”
This union of hope and trust, in a serious period of war, the energy crisis, the problems of refugees and the social crisis,

has given rise to a series of proposals for Advent, which both in Austria and in Germany follow the line of historical tradition as well as technological innovation.

You are So Frei the development policy campaign of the Austrian Catholic men’s movement, is focusing its Advent collection on East Africa this year, with the support of the Archbishop of Salzburg, Msgr. Franz Lackner:“Sei So Frei – Be so free” was publicized and supported with collections in the parishes on the second Sunday of Advent.

“The war in Ukraine is affecting many regions of the world. People in the East African region depend on grain deliveries from Ukraine. However, these can only be carried out with difficulty in the current conditions”, says Lackner who therefore invites everyone to support the Advent collection, if possible, “as a sign of our charity”.

The portal of the German Church, instead decided, in agreement with the dioceses and ecclesial and charitable associations, to offer all the German faithful an original “advent Calendar ”: every day until Christmas Eve, a calendar box will open, which will be dedicated to a specific topic, from the war to the reception of refugees, from lonely people to family assistance for the sick, from the homeless to parish priests who roam the many parishes of competence, passing through the climatic upheaval and the economic crisis.

With the motto “Weil du – why you” introducing each theme, the window will tell the faithful what they can do to be actors of peace and hope.

Advent is also a time to make yourself visible and offer testimonies of faith, often hidden: for example, how do nuns celebrate the Advent season in a contemplative religious community? Sister talks about it Maria Johanna Jarma of the Carmelo Mater Dolorosa to Maria Jeutendorf in Austria.

Using the possibilities that the internet today offers to cloistered nuns and monks, in the new episode of the podcast “Order on Air “, platform of Austrian religious orders,

the Carmelite nun also offers suggestions for a more peaceful and contemplative planning of Advent, warning of the danger of commodification.

Because Christmas is not only linked to the value of gifts. “We have our own Advent prayer book. And this prayer book is full of texts of longing and waiting for the coming of Jesus Full of texts of patient waiting, the promise that God will be with us”, said Sister Johanna: her advice is to consciously ask yourself: “How do I want to organize Advent? Every day take time to pray, to be there in silence, to read a book. Or sit down and organize your thoughts, or write down your expectations, hopes, desires.”

This time, according to the Carmelite, would serve for “a moment of self-reflection, so that one can light a candle in the evening and sit in front of this candle for five minutes”.

Still on the subject of monasteries, from 1 December the windows and stained glass windows of the monastery of the Barmherzige Brüder the Brothers of Mercy, and the adjacent church in Vienna’s Taborstraße:the specially decorated windows will gradually be lit up, spreading the Christmas atmosphere to those on their way to the church and a nearby hospital.And while waiting for the shepherds to be called back to Bethlehem by the angelic choirs, the kab the association of German Catholic workers,proposes an Advent journey in the company of 24 contemporary angels, for a human journey of hope and communion: starting from the ceramic works of the artist Sabine Puschmann-Diegel.

It’s about simple, imperfect angels, who have only one wing , and are looking for someone to share the flight with. Kab writes on her website: “In recent weeks we have been looking for angels and we have met wonderful people. Our ceramic angels have only one wing, they fly and work together with our neighbors. Christmas is always when we discover them and help them fly with our wing”. It will be an Advent calendar that will bring to Kab members that certainty of trust and hope that the angels made known to the earth by announcing the birth of Jesus.

Tradition, innovation and charity on the way to Christmas