Top Advent Apps for 2019

If you’re about the serious business of preparing for the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, explore some tremendous Advent apps you can add to your phone or tablet–all designed with one thing in mind: to help you improve your relationship with Jesus. No Santas, No snowmen. No tinsel. This is about the reason for the season and getting ready for His coming. Are you ready to take this on? Here are some of the best mobile apps out there (in our opinion) for Advent 2019.

Pray As You Go Advent Retreat

PAYG_LogoPray-As-You-Go (Free) If you look at no other app for Advent, consider this one. The Pray As You Go mini daily Advent retreat will make a substantial impact on you as you prepare for Christmas, and it only takes about 11 minutes each day. The music will grip you right off the bat, as demonstrated in the promotional video above (please, play it). See how it gets you to calm down just watching that video? That gives you a sense of the experience. The lovely audio production is designed to captivate your soul as it compels you to STOP and meditate. They are so good at this, it doesn’t take long for the program to gently lead you out of the craziness of your life and focus on what’s really important. The reflections are intensely personal to your journey as you explore the theme from a variety of perspectives, most especially, the Word of God.

article_14What you’re getting is a digital audio retreat available as a podcast from iTunes podcast feeds or off their web site or off their free app, Pray-As-You-Go Apple | Android.  Produced by Jesuit Media Initiatives out of Britain, in collaboration with Sacred Space , the audio retreat invites you to spend a few minutes each day in a systematic method of prayer and meditation as you listen to and reflect on God’s Word along with gentle reflections offered by the Jesuits.

The 2019 Advent Retreat focuses on ‘new beginnings’.  An introductory session will be available on Thursday, November 28. Developers explain: “This retreat offers you an opportunity to take some time out from the busyness of your life and come to a renewed awareness of the presence of Christ in your life and in His closeness to you. You are invited to deepen your relationship with Him; to welcome Him into your life this Christmas in a new way, and to in turn dwell with Him.”

*Please note – Pray as You Go will release one session each week so you cannot listen ahead of the time. It is important for you to remain in the specific time in the Season of Advent and not skip ahead. 

You will enjoy the wide variety of music in these podcasts all year long which you can purchase via links on the Pray-As-You-Go web site. Listening to their carefully selected music (in a variety of genres) is always an absolute gem of an experience, always paired with powerful and thought-provoking meditations on topics you probably have never considered. Be prepared to give this app TIME. Don’t expect them to rush because that’s counter-productive to what they do in these podcasts. Relax and enjoy the serene moments of music or sound effects or even pure silence that they insert where you are to contemplate and ruminate aspects of the mystery of Advent.

BUTTON-appStore BUTTON-Google play


The Chosen App

Binge Jesus, not Netflix with the world’s first original television series about Jesus, The Chosen.  The brand new app is Free and NOW AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE for Apple | Android smartphones and tablets [Click that link above on your mobile device and it will automatically take you to the download site on your browser suitable for your device]

Last year, a little film (below) spread throughout the internet depicting Christ’s birth from the vantage point of characters who were caught up in an intriguing tale. Did you see it? Captured your heart, didn’t it? That was the pilot episode that captivated thousands of small investors to fund the series. Well, the next four episodes are finished and available to you FREE with The Chosen app. Starting Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28, 2019), the next four episodes are released which you can purchase ($19.99) through this app and then start watching immediately.

Revive your relationship with Jesus and the gospels as you immerse yourself in story lines right out of somebody’s fruitful imagination, unfolded in a way that gets you to see Jesus in a new light. Venerable (soon Blessed) Archbishop Fulton Sheen (as of December 21, 2019!) once said that a saint is someone who makes Jesus lovable to others. So the producers of this special series take on the challenge to do just that–-make Jesus lovable to you. And the effect it can have is really quite stunning as you sense his humanity worn as comfortably as an old shoe. These aren’t sappy, sentimental storylines. You are brought into plausible domestic scenes within the actual gospel accounts–the stories you know, but this time from another person’s vantage point, including Peter’s wife, for example.

Spanish subtitles coming soon, producers report. To watch the series on a monitor or television, simply go to your Chromecast or AppleTV or other streaming device to stream from your phone or tablet.

Read our complete review of The Chosen series here. But do yourself a favor and watch this amazing series during Advent. Your soul will thank you. Here’s that episode about the birth of Christ…Kleenex not included.


MP3 Cardinal Newman

img_3598We have a new saint! (Canonized by Pope Francis on Oct. 13, 2019). He wrote and preached in English. He preached on Advent and Christmastide. You can hear his 24 Advent/Christmas sermons on this app! We have offered the MP3 Cardinal Newman App in the past and explained how it works. While it is a free app filled with fine recordings of his sermons, you only get a few audio sermons on the free side. The Advent/Christmas sermons are on the paid side which you can access in the app to get the full version (200 sermons for just $8.99).

Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman is best known as one of the most prominent converts to Catholicism from Anglicanism of the 19th century. He is the first English saint since the Reformation. Get to know this extraordinary saint by spending time listening to many hours of his sermons on MP3 Cardinal Newman (Free) Android | Apple.

You will enjoy the digital audio recordings of almost 200 sermons from this prodigious Catholic preacher and writer who speaks to you on themes surrounding Scripture, feast days and many subjects dealing with the human experience, Church teaching and spiritual growth. You’ll also enjoy the pleasant English accent of many of the readers as you listen to inspiring, clear and beautifully-written sermons. Indeed, he is known as one of the 19th century’s greatest English prose writers, so the language is extraordinary. These sermons are among his greatest “plain” sermons.

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Blessed Fulton Sheen Audio Library

fultonSheen

The Church will elevate an American to the title of Blessed during Advent this year! He is still beloved world-wide at that. Venerable Fulton Sheen will be declared Blessed on December 21, 2019 in his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois in the cathedral that contains his mortal remains. We have highlighted this remarkable app before and we are obliged to bring it to your attention again given the circumstances of this beloved archbishop’s journey to sainthood.

Venerable Fulton Sheen Audio Library  Free- lite version with select recordings  ($9.99 upgrade for complete version)  | Android | Apple

314 (1)Thanks to Catholic Vault, you can enjoy in the palm of your hand the extensive MP3 collection of talks and sermons from original recordings dating back to 1950.  Listen to the famous voice that inspired millions to draw closer to Jesus Christ, developers say of the digitally remastered recordings. Topics cover the gamut of human experiences in single, married or ordained states of life; spirituality; prayer; catechesis; Scripture and much more. All this, of course, is delivered in his own inimitable way in which you can almost see him smile as he riffs on humorous anecdotes (A special sampling of his humor is even included in a separate audio file). You’ll enjoy his rousing Christmas sermon designed to tug your heart and soul.

The free version of this app allows you to listen to a couple talks from each category. You can upgrade by purchasing the full version to have access to all 284 talks! These MP3s are streamed, not downloaded, so they take up no storage space on your device. An internet connection is, therefore, required.

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Formed

This isn’t an app, but you can access this amazing Catholic catechetical/entertainment internet portal on your mobile device. FORMED– ($9.99/month personal subscription or Free if your parish subscribes). Special content bundled on the Advent theme includes a children’s favorite, Brother Francis cartoons, along with reflections, Hollywood movies and much more to help enrich your Advent journey to Christmas.

FORMED

If you haven’t been introduced to Formed, you’re in for a whopping treat with on-demand faith formation resources like you’ve never seen before. Billed as “the Netflix of Catholic media content,” Formed is an exceptional Catholic faith formation tool bundling into one platform trusted and popular Catholic videos, audio talks, eBooks and movies all at your fingertips on-demand. Imagine having available on your smart phone, tablet, laptop or computer entire video education series produced by trusted and respected catechetical resource powerhouses such as Word on Fire, Symbolon, and Lighthouse Catholic Media. Topics cover adult faith formation, marriage, sacramental formation, Scripture, formation for teens and personal devotion. Check this out… You get more than 300 episodes of video education series including Bishop Robert Barron’s entire CATHOLICISM series (with parish subscription) But that’s not all.

FORMED-devicesYou also get to watch full feature faith-based films; read Catholic eBooks from top Catholic publishers; listen to hours of lectures from your favorite Catholic speakers on a host of topics involving your Catholic faith.

The Augustine Institute partnered with Lighthouse Catholic Media, Ignatius Press, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Word on Fire and Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception to bring you this wealth of resources on demand. The CATHOLICISM series alone costs $100 for the complete DVD set. But through FORMED, you get it (and everything else) for free if your parish subscribes. For $9.99/month  you may take out a personal subscription which includes everything the parish has access to minus the CATHOLICISM series and study guides. But before you take out a subscription, ask your parish if it already subscribes to FORMED. If it does, the parish will supply you with an access code to open up FORMED on line for free. It formats well to all the many digital mobile platforms out there. New content is added periodically. Available in English with several programs available in Spanish. Internet access is needed as no content is downloaded to your device.


Ultimate Advent Calendars

Pixmas-APP

The ultimate Advent Calendar to gift to others is a digital calendar loaded with custom charm to help engage your family/friends in their preparation for Christ’s coming. We’ve got two nice apps for you to choose from that will WOW them as you subtly evangelize.

Creating your own Advent app is an enjoyable way to engage your loved ones in faith reflection each day in a most personalized way. And who doesn’t love opening up a new window to see the day’s surprise? You know your friends/family best, so you can tailor the calendar to a group or to an individual (make as many calendars as you wish) and then share via social media, text or email with a link.

For my family last year, I used Pixmas Advent app and included old Christmas photos to bring up heartwarming memories. I added a reflection for the day — a little something religious to think about. For example, Day 1 is an old photo of our Advent Wreath with the text: May Christ’s light illuminate you on your journey each day of your life.

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Advent App Calendar

Other great ideas:

  • Scripture text,
  • an inspiring quote from a family member who has passed on,
  • a picture of the church your family attended years ago,
  • a photo of your family nativity set or a special family Christmas ornament,
  • reflections on saints’ feast days during Advent
  • a notice that a gift will be delivered to their door that day.

How about creating your own voucher for doing a work of mercy for them like helping them to shovel snow or create an invitation to join you at tonight’s Adoration with dessert afterwards as your treat? One day can simply be a family recipe. I have a recipe card for a family favorite in our dear grandmother’s lovely handwriting. That made a great photo.  True to the proper nature of Advent calendars, the days do not open ahead of time in the two apps featured below. No peeking allowed!

pixmas

Pixmas Advent (Free) Apple  This app enables you to create an Advent calendar utilizing 24 of your own photos with ability to include text (think: caption). Because this app is stored online, you can easily send the link to social media, text or email. They don’t have to install this app. Pixmas Advent lets you customize your project for other occasions like countdown to birthdays, vacations, weddings etc. To do this, you choose the number of days you want to set up (so it’s not tied to just 24 days). The benefit to you is the ability to extended this app’s use beyond the Advent season. Think of the evangelization you could do all year long!! One caveat: this app has annoying ads at the bottom of the screen. If you send your link out before December 1, remember to tell your recipients that the first window will not open until December 1st.

pixmas2

Pixmas Advent Calendar

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Now, for the pen-ultimate Advent Calendar…

AdventApp 2019Advent App 2019 (Free) Apple | Google Play (Currently, Google Play OS only supports receiving calendars. Only Apple IOS can create calendars). This app enables you to not only include photos but GIFs, video, text, links and voucher codes to online stores. That got the wheels in your creative mind spinning, didn’t it? The catch? The recipient needs to download this app too so they can access your calendar to them. No biggie, if you can get them to do that.

Obviously, the ability to include multi-media content adds to the enjoyment and creativity of what surely will be the most amazing calendar your friends/family will receive. Open a window and voilà! See a video of you wishing them a joyful advent. Another day could be a picture of a nativity set with a voucher code to Amazon to purchase it. Open another window and it opens up a YouTube video to a special Christmas carol meaningful to the recipient. You can include a voucher code to iTunes to purchase it too.

After creating your calendar, you will receive a code/link that you send to your recipient via email, text, social media etc. Once the link is downloaded, the recipient can open the calendar in the Advent App. You can send calendars to as many as you wish. But remember, they also need to download this app on their device and paste in the code.

Obviously, creating custom Advent calendars (especially if you are creating more than one) requires a bit of time. With Advent App, you do not have to complete your calendars before you send links to recipients. Every time you update, the recipient will automatically receive the update when he/she opens the app (they can’t open days ahead anyway). You can set up push notifications to remind you to update your calendar(s) if you don’t have them finished. Check out video instruction of how to install the app on your device’s format below:

BUTTON-appStore  BUTTON-Google play


Magnificat Advent Companion 2019

unnamedMagnificat Advent Companion 2019Apple ($2.99) Android, ($2.99) Kindle ($2.99), e-book for Mac and iOS ($2.99) English. This is the digital version of the popular print booklet designed to “accompany you like a beloved friend through the four weeks of Advent,” as developers put it. The paperback print version is sold out, but you can get the electronic version any time. Each year’s Advent Companion is different from the last and tailored for the specific days to coordinate with liturgical readings of the particular year. Languages:  English, French and Spanish. From the publishers of Magnificat:

mag-advent-19.jpg

  • a practical, page-a-day format featuring original meditations on the Gospel reading of each day by many gifted authors.
  • Readings and responsorial psalms for Mass each day
  • Each issue contains these one-of-a-kind extras that you won’t find anywhere else:
    • a variety of beautiful blessings (for your Christmas Tree or Advent Wreath) and essays
    • Prayers (including Praying the “O” Antiphons)
    • an Advent Penance Service
    • specially-commissioned poetry
    • a unique feature: the Advent Stations

and much more!

Here is a review (of a previous version), observing some of Magnificat’s laudable and questionable editorial content. For example, it covers the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite and excludes the Extraordinary Form. This omission concerns some readers, but yes, the publishers should make note of the form used. Some readers mistakenly think the daily prayers fulfill obligations of the Office; it does not (as the booklet should probably caution).

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Christmas Tree of Kindness

XmastreekindnessAPPImagine decorating a Christmas tree in which each ornament is placed ONLY when an act of kindness is performed! Christmas Tree of Kindness  Apple  | Android  encourages acts of kindness from you (or your entire family) as you prepare for the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While this isn’t a Catholic app per se, (or even Christian, as it doesn’t mention Jesus) it certainly is a creative way to get you engaged in the Advent season by encouraging you to make a conscious effort to spread acts of kindness. It even offers suggestions! Great for kids and adults. Want to invite others in your extended family to join you in decorating a tree? An upgrade version is available for Apple ($2.79) and Android ($1.99). But the basic version is FREE now until Christmas. Normally, it is priced around $1.00.

BUTTON-appStore  BUTTON-Google play


Christmas Music Apps

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells just don’t cut it. A lot of Christmas music we hear during the Advent season has nothing to do with the meaning of the season–where your spiritual attention should be focused, right? One way to change what your hear is to change your SOURCE for Christmas music. So, this year, we’re calling out two important apps to help you do just that.  And yes, they play lots of Christmas music/carols focused on Jesus and the gospel stories surrounding his birth.

iCatholicMusiciCatholic Music (Free) iOS | Android  The #1 Catholic Radio App in the world, iCatholic Radio, offers this separate app dedicated to streaming contemporary music by top Catholic artists on weekdays and Saturdays. Sunday mornings switch to several hours of sacred Gregorian chant, offering perfect background music as you prepare for Mass. With this app you not only get spiritually-enriching Catholic music 24/7 (no matter where you are in the world, and no matter what time you’re listening), but you get valuable on-demand features:

  • audio Rosary
  • audio Chaplet of Divine Mercy
  • Podcasts — talks by noted Catholic authors and priests on a variety of topics.
  • the ability to record a testimonial on how Catholic music has impacted your life
  • quick links to iCM’s social media posts

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greatCatholicmusicGreat Catholic Music (Free) Apple     Living Bread Radio offers a stand-alone app to fill the need for those just looking for well, great Catholic music. Their selection includes hymns that you’d hear in church as well as Catholic contemporary music. This is a basic click and play app. They don’t offer any other resources–just their commercial-free music.

What you’ll particularly enjoy is the professional rendition of so much of the music you hear at Mass. The hymns sound like entirely new compositions (particularly if your parish’s music ministry isn’t exactly ready for prime time). Hear our hymns at full throttle, capturing your imagination and touching your soul.

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Finally, don’t forget to wander over to our Confession Apps page to help you get ready for the most important Advent preparation, the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Then be sure you have a Catholic Bible app so you have the Word of God with you always.

Have a blessed and enriched Advent season that transforms your soul!

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Categories: Blog for Catholic Apptitude

Author:Jennifer Kane

Content Evangelist, Jennifer Kane, is a secular Carmelite (OCDS), wife, mother, grandmother who worked for more than 30 years in marketing/communications holding degrees in Journalism/Communication (BA) and English (MA) from St. Bonaventure University. She authored the Vatican application for minor basilica status in 2016 for The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Olean, New York from which stemmed her history book of the basilica, A Place Set Apart. She previously authored the book, A Worthy and Capable Clergyman, the second part of this book in a slightly different format. She is founder and editor of the website, CatholicAPPtitude.org, the #1 English language website cataloging/reviewing Catholic apps for mobile devices.

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