Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, and Primate of All Ireland, has launched a 2017 virtual Advent calendar, saying that the online prayers and reflections will help parishioners spiritually prepare for this Christmas season.  

“The season of Advent marks the beginning of the Catholic year and the time of spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas. It is a time of waiting, conversion and hope.”

“Our online calendar is a helpful resource in this journey,” Archbishop Martin told Derry Now.

The online calendar will include virtual “doors” which can be opened daily for prayers and reflections. In preparation for the 2018 World Meeting of Families in Dublin, the calendar will also provide prayers for the entire family and suggested acts of charity.

The calendar will be available online on Dec. 3, the first Sunday of Advent.

“Pope Francis has described the family as the first school, the nearest hospital and the best place to grow old,” he said, noting that specific attention this Advent should be given to Amoris Laetitia.

This season, he said, is a greater opportunity to reflect on the gift families are to their communities, and applauded an Amoris based program - Let’s Talk Family, Let’s Be Family - also available online.

Archbishop Martin said that “as Christians, we must always be prepared for the coming of the Lord” but that the process takes time and efforts to set aside the busy holiday schedule.  

“Preparation does not happen at once but over time and so each day of Advent amounts to a period of time which allows us to journey and reflect on the joy of the Gospel,” he said. “I encourage the faithful, notwithstanding our hectic schedule over the coming weeks, to make time to pray — alone, and with their family.”