. - A religious order in southern California is kicking off Advent with a digital calendar that allows Catholics to go more in-depth as they prepare for the Christmas season.
The virtual calendar was launched on the first Sunday of Advent by the priests of the Norbertine order from St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, California.
The website, advent.theabbotscircle.com, will include daily reflections, videos, music, and commentaries.
Each day, the calendar will delve into a different Advent-related topic, such as the meaning behind Advent candles and wreaths, historical information about the magi and shepherds, and a brief biography of St. Nicholas.
The calendar also includes Christmas music performed by the Norbertine Fathers, and explores questions such as “Should Christmas be only for Christians?”
The goal of the project is to offer a “different way of engaging the faithful, and … help them prepare their hearts and minds for Christmas,” according to a press release.
“We hope that this Advent calendar will help Catholics around the world learn more about their faith, grow in their faith, and help them prepare themselves for Christ’s coming at Christmas,” said Fr. Charbel Grbavac, one of the members of the community.
“We hope and pray that this Advent calendar will be a source for good, faithful fruits,” he added.
As canons regular, the Norbertine Fathers are religious priests who live in community and share a charism and common life of prayer. During the week, they are teachers and preachers in area schools, colleges, and catechetical programs. On weekends, they preach in more than 30 local parishes.
Last year, the Norbertines launched a digital library called “The Abbot’s Circle” to provide video, audio, and written resources on the Catholic faith beyond the bounds of their abbey and apostolates in southern California.
The Abbot’s Circle website is available to subscribers and includes video, podcasts and written reflections, as well as chant recordings and audio lectures and a documentary on the fathers called “City of Saints.”
St. Michael’s Abbey recently completed a $120 million capital campaign to support the construction of a new abbey. With nearly 50 priests and more than 30 seminarians, the order is running out of space for its new members.
Grbavac said the community is enthusiastic about the new digital Advent calendar, which they see as a means of furthering their mission to evangelize and renew the Church.
“Our order was founded by St. Norbert, a Catholic reformer who sought to renew the Church in difficult times and to preach to the faithful,” he said, “and we have been working recently to use digital media as a new way to fulfill his mission and engage the faithful and renew the Church.”