Another special theme of Advent, along with waiting, is mercy. Advent is an intense time of waiting for God the Father’s great act of mercy – sending the promised Saviour into the world. As Catholics, we know that when he came, after he rose from death, he also instituted the Sacrament of mercy, Reconciliation. So as well as being a time of waiting and expectant joy, it is also a time of receiving and giving God’s ever-generous mercy. Receiving it through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Confession, and giving it through acts of almsgiving and other kindnesses to others. One way to remember these two aspects of mercy through Advent is to set up a nativity crib (without the baby Jesus) and keep a basket of straw or cotton balls nearby. Each time someone does a thoughtful or generous act, spends extra time in prayer or attends an extra Mass, they can add one straw or cotton ball to the crib. Hopefully Jesus will have a super-comfy manger to rest in by Christmas morning! Each time you do a thoughtful or generous act, add one straw or cotton ball to the crib…. by christmas Jesus will have a super-comfy manger !