Best Advent Apps for 2023

Want more JOY in your life? This Advent season (Starting Sunday, December 3), make the commitment to dial into the most joyous event in all of humanity– the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You can enter into that pure joy with a deep dive into Advent–the preparation for Christmas. And there are lots of amazing apps out there to help you do just that. No Santas, no snowmen, no tinsel here. This is about the reason for the season and getting prepared for His coming. Are you ready to take on JOY which is Jesus himself? Here are some of the best mobile apps and digital content out there for Advent 2023. Yeah, a couple Advent Calendars are listed too.


Angelus App

Magnificat Angelus App (Free) Apple | Android

angelus app logo

We are leading off with a centuries old thrice-daily prayer, the Angelus. It’s a beautiful Marian devotion that begins: “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” What better way to prepare for the birth of Christ than to get in the habit of reciting the ancient Angelus prayer announcing his Incarnation?

A prominent American priest who is an exorcist “prescribes” this prayer at 6:00am, noon and 6:00pm as a means of holy discipline in your life. This intentional daily discipline (at those exact times) can significantly help you to banish diabolically-influenced temptations in your life, remain free from mortal sin and to root out venial sin, he teaches. Advent is a beautiful time to address those pernicious defects so we can lead a holier life.

It sounds too simple. But in addition to going to confession and attending Mass on Sundays and holy days, if you only made this one additional change in your devotional life, you could very well make huge strides to become the person God created you to be.

Developers remind us:
“By reciting the Angelus [three times a day] with a faithful heart, it allows you to unite your everyday life, its joys and sorrows, to God who became one of us. Taking precedence over any daily activity at a specific time, it reminds us ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God’ (Mt 4:4), and even more so from the Incarnate Word, our Lord Jesus Christ!”

angelusAppFor centuries, church bells would ring three times a day to remind the faithful to pray–morning, noon and night. To help you get into the habit of praying the prayer three times a day, the app offers a way to set up reminders at the hours most convenient for your schedule (it’s set to default 8am, 12pm, and 8pm). No need for church bells. But that exorcist recommends 6:00am precisely because it is a difficult time for most people. Roll up your spiritual sleeves and do it, he recommends.

Through this app you can also watch weekly videos of the Angelus recited by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.

Languages: Latin, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Lithuanian and Slovenian.

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Hallow – (Free download with access to a bunch of content with subscription option to open full content) Apple | Android.

When is the last time you learned a new way of praying? Advent is a good time to turn to prayer with intention. This serene, guided meditation app is all about you and your soul entering a blissful, meditative audio environment to help you pray. The goal? To slide you into a meaningful dialogue with God so you can nurture your relationship with him.

Join people all over the world in the “Advent Pray25 Challenge” which is guided by actor Liam Neeson who was the voice of the lion, Aslan, in the film adaptation of Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Just as with a traditional Advent calendar, Hallow serves up a new meditation for you each day with no ability to skip ahead.

This season, Hallow will focus on the three comings of Christ:

  • personally into each of our hearts,
  • His Second Coming at the end of time,
  • and as an infant in Bethlehem

Those meditations will be enhanced with readings from the works of C.S. Lewis, “whose mid-20th-century books have inspired generations with beautiful Christian imagery and symbolism,” note developers. Just like an Advent calendar Hallow will serve up to you guidance in daily prayer for four weeks of Advent with reflections based on different works of Lewis, including The Four Loves, Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, and more.

Join others in your meditation praying right along with you (you can see the numbers of people praying in real time whenever you are in the Challenge). The entire Advent package in this app includes prayers, calendars, music, a special Advent audio rosary, gift guides, history of Advent along with its meaning, colors, symbols, and themes.

A separate kids section, Mary on the Mantel, is an alternative to “Elf on the Shelf,” and helps children to rediscover Mary– how she was chosen by God, what a gift Jesus is to the world, and the real opportunity children have to pray pray with Mary.

The enormous catalog of content (prayer, meditations, scripture, reflections, bedtime Bible stories, etc.), utilizes peaceful, calming audio to stir your soul–from the velvety voices reading to you, to the soothing music/sounds in a variety of genres including Advent and Christmas! Step by step, you will be led into prayerful meditation like you may never have experienced in your life.

On the free side of this app you get meditations on the Daily Gospel (updated every day), audio Rosary, Spiritual Communion, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Examen, Spiritual Writing, and Christian Meditation sessions. Each of these offerings comes with a choice of two voices as your guide, three length options, nine background music selections, a journal, prayer reminder options, goal setting and tracking. You also have access to all of the Guest Sessions, and Minute Meditation sessions. The free side also generously includes the Bible in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz.

To unlock the full version of this app to access all its content, you must subscribe (monthly $8.99; annually $59.99 in the United States). Before you squawk at the price (which I sure did at first!) please consider what you pay for streaming media subscriptions. Content in THIS app can help save your soul (Can you say that about Hulu?) because it’s focused on one thing: to help get you in a mindset to talk to God. That relationship is the most important relationship in your life. And if you are a nominal Catholic routinely going through the motions of your faith, begrudgingly going to Sunday Mass when prodded or not giving God much thought, it’s time to grow up, spiritually speaking. Let’s be honest.

Hallow is so jam-packed with content (packaged in tasteful, minimalist design), it takes eight full minutes to run through everything this amazing app offers (complete with celebrities), as this video demonstrates:

English/Spanish (limited). Developed by a University of Notre Dame alumnus and guided by experts in the Catholic Church, (including their bishop!), Hallow relies on the riches of the Catholic Church’s ancient teachings on prayer and meditation/contemplation.

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Pray As You Go Advent Retreat

PAYG_LogoPray-As-You-Go (Free) If you look at no other app for Advent, consider this one–a weekly audio Advent retreat that takes about 20-25 minutes. To get a taste of the EXPERIENCE this app draws you into, please watch this video.

Pray As You Go is so good at getting you to STOP and meditate, 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. Claiming a few minutes each day to engage in the meditations in this app will make a substantial impact on your preparations for Christmas. The reflections are intensely personal to your journey as you explore the theme from a variety of perspectives, most especially, the Word of God.

What you’re getting is digital audio retreats (and much more) available as a podcast 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 less than a half hour 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 introduction to their Advent retreat, “The Cry from the Manger,” will be released on Monday, November 27, and the first retreat session will be available from Monday, December 4.

The app is set up so you can choose your programing. It could be the retreat-of-the-day based on the liturgical calendar or you can choose from a variety of special retreats based on themes like Advent. So you will need to go to their Advent section within the app to get to the weekly retreat released each Monday until Christmas.

Introduction: Monday 27 November

Session 1 (A Long Way to Go): Monday 4 December

Session 2 (No Room at the Inn): Monday 11 December

Session 3 (A Night in the Stable) Monday 18 December

Session 4 (The Cry From the Manger) Monday 25 December

Other topics in this app include contemplative prayer, lectio divina, mental health series, sleep aid meditations and more. As an added bonus, 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 usually 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. Rushing is counter-productive to authentic meditation. Expect long lapses of silence from the reader. 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 featured that week.

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Amen App (Free) Apple | Android  by Augustine Institute

The Augustine Institute has been a distinguished leader in producing/publishing faithful Catholic catechetical materials in a variety of media formats for a number of years. Led by Dr. Timothy Gray, their impressive catalogue of resources unlocks for public consumption the rich array of Catholic thought and spirituality to help fuel the New Evangelization led by laity. You might be familiar with the Institute’s Lighthouse Catholic Media rack in the back of your church, or their amazing internet-based resource portal, Formed–which gathers together the best of Catholic entertainment, formation resources, educational series and more. Now, the Augustine Institute offers an app that utilizes much of the Institute’s content, but centered around one specific theme: To help you encounter God through meditative prayer from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep.

Amen App joins Hallow in this category of apps based in a soothing meditative experience in prayer, complete with a variety of sleep aids designed to calm your mind and body. Like Hallow, Amen App is based primarily in audio format, so you can pray/meditate with your eyes closed. This includes audio meditations and bedtime stories read to you in a soothing delivery by a trained voice actor on a variety of topics with a selection of background music or sound effect options.

The two NEW Advent Series available in FORMED (see below) are available in this app as they are produced by the Augustine Institute.

Amen App also comes packed with other valuable Catholic audio/text resources to help inspire “your daily conversation with God through faithful Christian meditation, nourishing Scriptures and relaxing sleep sounds,” according to developers. Among resources, you get audio/text versions of:

  • Daily Mass readings and audio reflections
  • Meditations/reflections on a variety of topics by top Catholic theologians and speakers (like Chris Stefanick and Dr. Tim Gray).
  • Stories for children including Bible stories and the popular Brother Francis cartoon (just the audio, no video, unfortunately)
  • Catholic devotions including a variety of audio rosaries
  • Truth & Life Audio Bible: Enter into a fully dramatized reading of a new book from the New Testament each month.
  • Read-the-Bible-in-a-year audio program
  • Sermons by saints and Fathers of the Church
  • Morning and Evening psalms/prayers
  • Season-specific resources targeting Lent, Easter, Advent and Christmas
  • Journal

Options include the ability to download resources for use offline and Spanish language.

Check out Amen App’s video tutorial to discover all this beautiful app offers:

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Best Advent Ever 2023

This is not an app but a video series emailed to you each day of Advent.

It is program always worth accessing on your mobile device for Advent. If you haven’t experienced the impact of Matthew Kelly’s sincere, gentle and spiritually-awakening reflections, jump into these daily videos (less than five minutes) from Kelly’s apostolate, Dynamic Catholic. Kelly is all about transformation. No matter what you’re going through, he’s the guy who can effortlessly remind us of the larger story in which we are actively participating today, whether we realize it or not. It’s refreshing to listen to the voice of a hard-core, no-apologies Catholic layman. He’s one of the best, and I never miss an Advent or Lent without accessing his anointed, thought-provoking, life-changing reflections.

This year’s Best Advent Ever theme:

Discover Jesus’ Radical Invitation for You

From Dynamic Catholic: “Jesus was a radical. His life was radical. His death was radical. His teachings were radical. And he has a radical invitation for you. Discover what the radical and relevant wisdom of Jesus can mean for your Christmas…and the rest of your life.” Kelly will guide you from getting trapped in peripheral things and refocus you into into the essence (the root) of your relationships, your life, your faith…all based in the radical and relevant wisdom of Jesus.

To get your FREE videos delivered to your email inbox every morning of Advent, follow this link to sign up.


Magnificat Advent Companion 2023

 GooglePlay ($2.99) Available as an e-book on your reader:  Kindle ($2.99),  Apple books ($2.99) Kobo ($2.99) Nook ($2.99). This is the digital e-book version of the Catholic publisher’s popular print booklet ($4.99) designed to “accompany you like a beloved friend through the four weeks of Advent,” as developers put it. The paperback print version is usually sold out before Advent, 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: a practical, page-a-day format featuring

  • original meditations on the Gospel reading of each day by one of twenty-four gifted authors
  • Readings and responsorial psalms for Mass each day
  • Plus! one-of-a-kind extras
    • 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

Here is a review (of a previous version). Some readers mistakenly think the daily prayers fulfill obligations of the Divine Office (Breviary); it does not (as the booklet should probably caution).


FORMED

FORMED– ($9.99/month personal subscription or Free if your parish subscribes) 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. This isn’t an app, but you can access this amazing Catholic catechetical/entertainment internet portal on your mobile device.

This year, FORMED is offering two brand new Advent series:

Rooted: Rediscover the Jesse Tree This Advent

Rooted: Rediscover the Jesse Tree This Advent

From developers: This new series guides Catholics through a daily reflection using the Jesse Tree model traditionally practiced by families. Each seven-minute episode hosted by Dr. Scott Hefelfinger introduces the ancestors of Jesus Christ, shares a Scripture passage, and offers engaging, practical insights.

Drawing Closer To God: A Catholic Art Show for Kids

Drawing Closer To God: A Catholic Art Show for Kids

From developers: Journey through Advent with the whole family as art teacher Ms. Kim shows children how to draw different scenes from the Nativity story. As kids learn new art skills, they also begin to see the connections between the big picture of God’s story and their place within it.

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.

Download the FORMED 2023 Interactive Advent Calendar to keep up with all their programing this Advent season.

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. 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-devicesThe first two seasons of The Chosen television series about the life of Jesus is available to you FREE. You 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. ROKU and other streaming services offer the app among their selections.


Ultimate Advent Calendars

Who doesn’t love opening up a new window to see the day’s surprise? Gift a digital Advent 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 digital Advent calendar is an enjoyable way to engage your loved ones in faith reflection each day in a most personalized way. You know your friends/family best, so you can customize 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, 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.

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 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.

 

 

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Now, for the pen-ultimate Advent Calendar…

AdventApp 2019Advent App 2019 (Free) Apple  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.

Currently, Google Play/Android only supports receiving calendars. Only Apple can create the calendars.

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Christmas Tree of Kindness

Imagine decorating a Christmas tree in which each ornament is placed ONLY when an act of kindness is performed! Christmas Tree of Kindness  Apple (.99 cents USD) encourages acts of kindness from you (or your entire family) as you prepare for the birth of Our Lord. 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?

Additions to the app:

  • Enjoy an option to print out a paper tree with ornaments kids can add as they complete acts of kindness.
  • Read a charming story of “the first Christmas tree that changed the world.”

Check out this overview from Rome Reports:

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Apps to Enrich Your Time
Throughout the Advent Season

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, 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) Apple | GooglePlay  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 | GooglePlay 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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Relevant Radio  (Free)  Apple | GooglePlay | Amazon is offering an Audio Advent Calendar December 1-25 along with a host of Advent programing via live-streaming, podcasts and audio prayers including rosaries and novenas. You also get Catholic news and programing from popular Catholic influencers. Since 2000 Relevant Radio has been known for its faithfulness to Catholic teaching. Its wide-ranging content is offered as downloads if you happen to miss live-streaming.

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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 which included 20 years in radio broadcasting including news director. She holds degrees in Journalism/Communication (BA) and English (MA) from St. Bonaventure University. In 2016 she authored the Vatican application for minor basilica status for The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Olean, New York. Pope Francis granted that title in 2017. Research on the basilica formed the basis of her history book, A Place Set Apart. She previously authored the book, A Worthy and Capable Clergyman, the second part of the history 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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