This year the Jesuit Institute, in collaboration with Mariannhill Mission Press, have published an Advent book for children entitled Journeying to Jesus’ Birthday. The book, which was written by Paulina French (who works at the Institute part time), is meant to be a conversation starter between children and parents.

Advent begins for us in South Africa at the end of the academic year, just before long school holidays.. This time of year is marked by increased commercialisation, frantic holiday preparations and endless year-end functions.  It is easy for children and families to lose focus and for the meaning of Christmas to be obscured.

This little book has a simple reflection for each weekday of Advent. The idea is that parents read one (or all) of the scripture texts listed at the beginning of each day and then the reflection with their children. The text, and the reflection, will hopefully generate a discussion between parents and children. The book facilitates a way for parents to share their faith with their children, for children to talk to their parents about what strikes them in the reflection, and for families to spend 10-15 minutes every day of Advent praying together.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis urges families to spend time praying together daily. He writes “A few minutes can be found each day to come together before the living God, to tell him our worries, to ask for the needs of our family, to pray for someone experiencing difficulty, to ask for help in showing love, to give thanks for life and for its blessings… With a few simple words, this moment of prayer can do immense good for our families.”  This book is a way of putting Amoris Latetia into action. It is meant to be a springboard which helps families share faith together.

The book ends with a competition. Children are asked to a draw a picture and email it to the Institute by the 25 January. The winners will receive a children’s bible signed by Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM, Archbishop of Durban.

The book is available in English and Zulu and can be purchased from the Jesuit Institute for R60 excl. postage. To order email admin@jesuitinstitute.org.za