Season of advent

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Advent reflections for every day of the season

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The environment of the children with disabilitiesfmsi.jpg


First and foremost, we would like to thank all those people who contributed to the creation of this booklet of reflection for the season of Advent. And those people are many: first of all, the children who have shared their experiences with us; secondly, their parents for allowing us to publish their children' stories; thirdly, all the contacts that the FMSI has in the provinces, for without them this would not have been possible. We do not want to forget the many others who supported us, joining their efforts to those of the people who needed them. We would like to thank the translators.

Likewise, we thank all those who have sent us their answers to the questionnaire to evaluate the Advent booklets published in the past. We believe that the contributions and the modifications we have introduced this year will serve to further focus our reflection during this time.

This year the theme of the brochure is children with disabilities, whether physical or mental. Our collaborators have sent quite a few testimonies and since the stories outnumbered the days of Advent, we decided to share all of them and have included some in the appendix. The stories have not been selected, we have included them all.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities indicates that this group of people includes those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. We hope that these reflections will help us get a little closer to these people who suffer when a form of disability prevents them from participating fully in activities that others can do normally. Let us include them in our prayers and thus seek to better understand their lives.

Because of this theme, this year we will use two UN international conventions for the purpose of our reflection: the Convention on the Rights of Children and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We propose some of their articles for our knowledge and reflection.

We also hope that the testimonies offered will help us consider these people with disabilities even more, be able to respect, help and be closer to them, as well as share our lives with their own, and especially to help them be integrated in society.


Manel Mendoza.

Note. Source of the Psalms: the New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).


The word "Advent" comes from Adventus, which means coming. This liturgical season, which lasts four weeks, ends on December 24, and is linked to Christmas and Epiphany. The meaning of Advent is to revive Catholics while waiting for the Lord to come.

Advent can be divided into two phases:

  • from the first Sunday to December 16, a distinctly eschatological phase, looking at the Lord's coming at the end of time;

  • from December 17 to 24 - some say this is the "Holy Week" of Christmas - this phase aims at preparing more explicitly the coming of Jesus Christ.


It is not possible to determine exactly when the Advent celebration was first introduced in the Church. The preparation for the feast of Christmas could not be before the celebration of Christmas was introduced, and there is no evidence of this existing before the end of the fourth century, when it was celebrated within the Church, for some, on December 25, while for others, on January 6 (Duchesne). In the Acts of a synod of Saragossa (A.D. 380), the fourth canon prescribes that from December 17 to the feast of the Epiphany everyone should be present in the Church. There are some homilies, probably most of them by St. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles (502-542), in which a "preparation before Christmas" is mentioned. However, judging from the context, seems that there is no general law on this matter. A synod that took place in Mâcon, Gaul in A.D. 581, in its ninth canon stated that from November 11 until Christmas, the Sacrifice be offered according to the Lenten rite on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the week. The Gelasian Sacramentary indicates five Sundays for the season. That number was reduced to four by Pope St. Gregory VII (1073-85). The collection of homilies of St. Gregory the Great (590-604) begins with a sermon for the second Sunday of Advent. Several synods have created canons on the fast days to be observed during this time. Some began on November 11 or 15, and others with the autumnal equinox. Other synods forbade the celebration of marriages. (Francis Mershman)

Time of Advent: Time of Mary

In the liturgical year, Advent is the Marian time par excellence. Paul VI had expressed that with great authority in his Marialis Cultus, nn. 3-4. Historically, the memory of Mary in the liturgy has emerged with the reading of the Gospel about the Annunciation the Sunday before Christmas, which has rightly been called Marian Sunday. Today, Advent has fully recovered this meaning with a number of Marian elements in the liturgy, which can be summarized as follows:

From the earliest days of Advent there are elements that recall the expectation and reception of the mystery of Christ.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated as a "radical preparation for the coming of the Saviour and happy beginning of the Church without spot or wrinkle." (Marialis Cultus 3)

On weekdays from 17 to 24, the liturgical role of the Virgin is a major characteristic of the biblical readings; the third preface of Advent reminds of the Mother waiting.

I. Calabuig points out some of the titles we give to Our Lady of Advent:

"Full of grace"; "Blessed among women"; "Virgin"; "Servant of the Lord"; “Daughter of Zion”; “The Virgin of the Fiat”; “Fecund Virgin”; “The Virgin who listens and embraces”.
The Advent Wreath

It originated in a European pagan tradition of lighting candles during the winter to represent the fire of the sun god, to have him return with its light and heat during the winter. The wreath has a variety of symbols:

Circular shape: the circle has no beginning or end. It is a sign of God's eternal love, which has no beginning or end; and it is also a sign of our love for God and our neighbour, a love that should never end.

Green branches: green is the colour of hope and life, and God wants us to wait for his grace, for the forgiveness of sins and the eternal glory when our lives are over.

Four candles: they remind us of the darkness that comes from the sin that blinds man and pulls him away from God. The wreath has four candles and they are lit one at a time, during the four Sundays of Advent to pray in the family.

Red apples can be added, representing the fruits of Eden and sin; however, they also remind us of the promise of salvation.


First week

O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ,

desire of every nation,

Savior of all peoples,

come and dwell among us.

Second Week

O King of all nations, Jesus Christ,

only joy of every heart,

come and save your people.

Third Week

O Key of David, Jesus Christ,

the gates of heaven

open at your command,

come and show us the way to salvation.

Fourth Week

O Wisdom, holy Word of God, Jesus Christ,

all things are in your hands,

come and show us the way to salvation.


People with disabilities are the largest existing minority. Currently, around 10% of the world population live with a disability.

Disability is a limitation in the functions, and the level of disability depends on the possibilities that your environment offers you to develop correctly. 

But what does living with a disability entail? Mainly the deprivation of basic human rights, fundamental to a good quality of life, such as access to health care, as well as to inclusive and quality education, vocational training, the right to actively live in a plural society and to leisure, just to mention a few.

Disabilities have a tremendous impact on all the above areas, especially when it comes to children. According to some studies, people with disabilities, have a greater chance of falling into the vicious cycle of poverty, and that extends to their families. Health in general, and the tools they need to improve their mobility, hearing, etc. in particular, are too expensive for low-income families. Quite often, it is thanks to the action of certain NGOs or associations, that these people obtain such necessary tools to improve their lives.

Children with disabilities have been considered for centuries a burden to society, as it was believed that they were not educable, and therefore they did not have the opportunity to become independent and develop like the rest of humans. They were relegated to doing household tasks, the same tasks that today we would consider semi-slavery. Or they would live in a residential home, receiving health care exclusively. Fortunately, things are changing, even if there are still many obstacles to overcome in those countries that are still behind as far as disability is concerned. Despite the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the firm intention expressed by the statement "Education for All", disability is the primary cause of social exclusion in the world.  Therefore, such elements as inclusive education become very necessary, especially in those rural areas of the world where the only possible option is an educational centre per village and schooling depends on the training and availability of the teachers who decide to take on this professional challenge.

Since there is still a long way to go, the action of both governments and NGOs will be indispensable to help encourage the development of projects related to the education and training of people with disabilities, so that in a not too distant future hopefully these people will not be discriminated against anymore, and instead enjoy a full and independent life.

(Núria Trégon)

December 2

First Sunday of Advent

Marist Anniversary: 1915 - first foundation in Morocco.
Today’s Readings:

Jer 22:14-16. I will raise up for David a legitimate offspring.

1 Thess 3:12-4:2. May the Lord strengthen your hearts for Jesus' return.

Lk 21:25-28, 34-36. Your liberation is near at hand.

Ana Alexandra Romero Flores. Lima, Peru

It's true that I feel very happy to be alive. I am the centre of attention in my family, as well as with my schoolmates. I receive from my family all the support, love and affection that a child could need. I am welcomed with love by my friends at school, and they make me feel like I belong. My babysitter (Susana) treats me well, like I was really her daughter. I lead a normal life. In my neighbourhood I have friends who are between 8 and 10 years old. We play handball, basketball and dominoes. At school my friends and I share classes and games. I have never felt discriminated against or left out; on the contrary, I feel that I am the centre of attention, because they are always looking out for me.

Convention on the Rights of the Child:

States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community. (Art. 23.1)

From psalm 48: God makes his dwelling among men.
Great is the LORD and highly praised

in the city of our God:

His holy mountain,

fairest of heights,

the joy of all the earth,

Mount Zion, the heights of Zaphon,

the city of the great king.
What we had heard we have now seen

in the city of the LORD of hosts,

In the city of our God,

which God establishes forever.

We ponder, O God, your mercy

within your temple

Like your name, O God,

so is your praise to the ends of the earth.

Your right hand is fully victorious.

Mount Zion is glad!

The daughters of Judah rejoice

because of your judgments!

Go about Zion, walk all around it,

note the number of its towers.

Consider the ramparts, examine its citadels,

that you may tell future generations:

That this is God,

our God for ever and ever.

He will lead us until death.

Intention: We pray that Jesus and Mary will make us more aware of accepting people with disabilities.

Prayer of Anita Romero Flores: Saint Marcellin, I ask you to enlighten people, that you touch their hearts, so that when they see people with a disability they will not ignore them. Thank you for the people I know in my school who have big hearts.

December 3

Monday of the First Week of Advent

Saint Francis Xavier, priest

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Marist Anniversary: 1956 - Departure of the first Brothers for Bolivia.
Today’s Readings:

Isa 2:1-5. The Lord gathers all the nations into the eternal peace of the Kingdom of God.

Mt 8:5-11. Many will come from the east and the west to the kingdom of heaven.

Ederson and Fabiano

10 and 7 years old, Brazil

Mrs. Roseli, mother of Ederson and Fabiano, tells us that her sons need special attention since they don't have a sense of danger and on a number of occasions she found Ederson in risky situations. She also explains that she has to stimulate her sons in basic activities, due to their difficulty in communicating, in personal hygiene, and in feeding themselves, among others. She receives assistance from the “Beneficio de Prestación Continua” of the federal government (BPC) and accompaniment for the family with the care of her sons. She doesn't visit her neighbours because they can't understand the way her sons act. The neighbours say, among other things, that her children are terrible, since they both end up hurting themselves. She told us it takes a lot of patience and dedication to be attentive to their medication schedule, to be aware of the ease with which the boys get excited and to help them feel better. The boys attend the Special Education Services (AEE).

She thinks the teachers could motivate her sons more in their daily activities.

She stresses that there is a lack of understanding of the limitations of her sons on the part of some people, which causes prejudices, and in some cases, feelings of shame.

Convention on the Rights of the Child: States Parties recognize the right of the disabled child to special care and shall encourage and ensure the extension, subject to available resources, to the eligible child and those responsible for his or her care, of assistance for which application is made and which is appropriate to the child's condition and to the circumstances of the parents or others caring for the child. (Art. 23.2)

From psalm 18: Morning, with its light, and the reborn day, with its brightness, evoke in us the beginnings of creation.
The heavens declare the glory of God;

the firmament proclaims the works of his hands.

Day unto day pours forth speech;

night unto night whispers knowledge.

There is no speech, no words;

their voice is not heard;

A report goes forth through all the earth,

their messages, to the ends of the world.

The law of the LORD is perfect,

refreshing the soul.

The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,

giving wisdom to the simple.

Let the words of my mouth be acceptable,

the thoughts of my heart before you,

LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Intention: We pray for parents whose children have disabilities.

Prayer of Fabiano with the help of his mother: Thank you, God, for the day, for the night, for the cold and for supper. God, send your army of angels to protect my family.

December 4

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Saint John Damascene, priest and doctor

Marist Anniversary: 1889, opening of the first Marist school in Colombia.
Today’s Readings:

Is 11: 1-10. The spirit of the Lord will rest on him.

LK 10: 21-24. Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit.

Elfreda Tabora

7 years old, Papa New Guinea

My name is Elfreda Tabora and I am 7 years old, attending Arawa Elementary School. I was naturally born with a hearing problem on my right ear. In school I sit in the front of the class all the time. But I still have hearing problems. This problem discourages me because I always have two other problems that come with it. The first is the struggle of comprehending anything not heard properly and the second is fear of being shamed. Otherwise I like school, particularly Mathematics and my good teacher. I am lucky to have good parents. Because of my disability they had taken me to Callan Services (A Catholic Diocese Owned Disable Peoples & Children Therapy & Learning Centre).

Florence, a worker, there has become my teacher and helper. She has taught me how to read sign language and she had also taught my parents sign language as well. For me, it’s still a problem because I have to problem because I have to deal with hearing first all the time and failure to thais discouraging. So far in my life, it has not been easy for me at school, at home and with friends. I have tried so hard to keep my ears open as much as possible to avoid getting lost. Hearing aids are far too expensive for my family. Therefore, it has been my battle with my disability, and I prayer every time that my ear have proper attention so that I can hear normally.

Convention on the Rights of the Child:

Recognizing the special needs of a disabled child, assistance extended in accordance with paragraph 2 of the present article shall be provided free of charge, whenever possible, taking into account the financial resources of the parents or others caring for the child, and shall be designed to ensure that the disabled child has effective access to and receives education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities in a manner conducive to the child's achieving the fullest possible social integration and individual development, including his or her cultural and spiritual development. (Art. 23.3)

From psalm 19: You are the light and the morning star, o Christ, our Lord.
The heavens declare the glory of God;

the firmament proclaims the works of his hands.

Day unto day pours forth speech;

night unto night whispers knowledge.

There is no speech, no words;

their voice is not heard;

A report goes forth through all the earth,

their messages, to the ends of the world.

He has pitched in them a tent for the sun;

it comes forth like a bridegroom from his canopy,

and like a hero joyfully runs its course.

From one end of the heavens it comes forth;

its course runs through to the other;

nothing escapes its heat.

Intention: We pray for all the children who do not have access to what is necessary to improve their situation of disability.
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