Looking for ways to celebrate Advent?

 Looking for ways to celebrate Advent?

An Advent tradition for many is to begin praying the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena on November 30, the day the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Andrew. The novena is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in the honor of the birth of His Son at Christmas. It is attributed to Saint Andrew given the prayers traditionally begin on his feast day.  When prayed as a family, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is a good way to help focus the attention of your children on the Advent season.

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena

    Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires (mention your intentions here), through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Lectio Divina for Advent

Lectio divina is a form of meditation rooted in liturgical celebration that dates back to early monastic communities. It was a method practiced by monks in their daily encounter with Scripture, both as they prepared for the Eucharist and as they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours.
The Latin phrase “lectio divina” may be translated as “divine reading.”  As one reads and invites the Word to become a transforming lens that brings the events of daily living into focus, one can come to live more deeply and find the presence of God more readily in the events of each day. The method of lectio divina follows four steps:
lectio (reading)
meditatio (meditation)
contemplatio (contemplation)
and oratio (prayer).
Use these Lectio Divina guides to meditate, contemplate, and pray on your spiritual preparation for Advent and Christmas.
Lectio Divina for the First Sunday of Advent
Lectio Divina for the Second Sunday of Advent
Lectio Divina for the Third Sunday of Advent
Lectio Divina for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Best Advent Ever

We prepare for everything we consider important in life, and that includes Christmas. We shop for gifts, bake cookies, decorate our trees, and visit family and friends until we’re ready to drop. Why not take some time to prepare our hearts and souls for Christmas as well? Best Advent Ever is a free email program that will help you prepare for Christmas in a different way.
Beginning the first Sunday of Advent and continuing every day until December 26, you’ll receive short inspirational videos, practical tips, or free Christmas music that will help you slow down during this busy season to focus on what’s really important in life.
Don’t miss the opportunity to make this your best Advent (and Christmas) ever. Sign up today! It’s simple, and the only cost is your commitment to live better each day during Advent. Are you ready?
To Learn more or Sign up visit www.BestAdventEver.com

 

Blessing of an Advent Wreath

The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent.
When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family.

Blessing of an Advent Wreath

All make the sign of the cross as the leader says:

Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All:  Who made heaven and earth.

Then the Scripture, Isaiah 9: (lines 1-2 and 5-6) or Isaiah 63 (lines 16-17 & 19) or Isaiah 64  (lines 2-7) is read:

Reader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.

With hands joined, the leader says:

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

The blessing may conclude with a verse from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers

Prayers as you light the candles on your Advent Wreath each week.

FIRST WEEK:  The following prayer should be repeated each day during the first week. After the prayer, the family’s youngest child lights the first purple candle. (Family members can also take turns lighting and blowing out the candles on each night.)

Leader: O Lord, stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come, That by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Thy deliverance. Through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The candle is allowed to burn during evening meals for the first week.

SECOND WEEK  The prayer that follows is to be repeated each day of the second week. After the prayer, the oldest child lights the first and second purple candles.

Leader: O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son, that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure minds. Through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The two candles are allowed to burn during the evening meals of the second week.

THIRD WEEK  The joyful Sunday in Advent (known as “Gaudete”) is represented by rose (or pink) instead of the penitential purple color. Each night during the third week the mother of the family lights the pink, as well as the two previously burned purple candles, after the following prayer has been said.

Leader: O Lord, we beg Thee, incline Thy ear to our prayers and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation. Through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The three candles are allowed to burn during the evening meals of the third week.

FOURTH WEEK  The prayer that follows is to be repeated each day of the fourth week. After the prayer, the father lights all four candles.

Leader: O Lord, stir up Thy power, we pray Thee, and come; and with great might help us, that with the help of Thy Grace, Thy merciful forgiveness may hasten what our sins impede. Through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The four candles are allowed to burn during the evening meals of the fourth week.

Blessing of a Christmas Tree

The use of the Christmas tree is relatively modern. Its origins are found in the medieval mystery plays that depicted the tree of paradise and the Christmas light or candle that symbolized Christ, the Light of the world. According to custom, the Christmas tree is set up just before Christmas and may remain in place until the Solemnity of Epiphany. The lights of the tree are illuminated after the prayer of blessing.
In the home the Christmas tree may be blessed by a parent or another family member, in connection with the evening meal on the Vigil of Christmas or at another suitable time on Christmas Day.

Family Blessing of a Christmas Tree

When all have gathered, a suitable song may be sung.

The leader makes the sign of the cross, and all reply “Amen.”

Leader: Let us glorify Christ our light, who brings salvation and peace into our midst, now and forever.
All:  Amen.

In the following or similar words, the leader prepares those present for the blessing:

Leader: My brothers and sisters (My family, etc.), amidst signs and wonders Christ Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea: his birth brings joy to our hearts and enlightenment to our minds. With this tree, decorated and adorned, may we welcome Christ among us; may its lights guide us to the perfect light.

One of those present or the leader reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example, Titus 3:4 (lines 4-7)  or Ezekiel 17:22  (lines 22-24 4; I will plant a tender shoot on the mountain heights of Israel.)

Reader: The Word of the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.

The intercessions are then said. The leader says:

Leader: Let us ask God to send his blessing upon us and upon this
sign of our faith in the Lord.
R/. Lord, give light to our hearts.

That this tree of lights may remind us of the tree of glory on
which Christ accomplished our salvation, let us pray to the
Lord. R/.

That the joy of Christmas may always be in our homes, let
us pray to the Lord. R/.

That the peace of Christ may dwell in our hearts and in the
world, let us pray to the Lord. R/.

Leader: Let us now pray as Christ our Lord has taught us.
All: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

The leader says the following prayer with hands joined:

Lord our God,
we praise you for the light of creation:
the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.
We praise you for the light of Israel:
the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace,
who fills us with the wonder of your love.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we illumine this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives
be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree
come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The lights of the tree are then illuminated.

The leader concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:

Leader: May the God of glory fill our hearts with peace and joy, now
and forever.
All: Amen.

The blessing concludes with a verse from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayer

 

Blessing of a Christmas Manger or Nativity Scene

In its present form the custom of displaying figures depicting the birth of Jesus Christ owes its origin to St. Francis of Assisi, who made the Christmas crèche or manger for Christmas Eve of 1223.
The blessing of the Christmas manger or nativity scene may take place on the Vigil
of Christmas or at another suitable time.
When the manger is set up in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a
parent or another family member.

Blessing of Nativity Scene

All make the sign of the cross as the leader says:

Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All:  Who made heaven and earth.

One of those present or the leader reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example, Luke 2:1-8.

Reader: The Gospel of the Lord.
All: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The leader prays with hands joined:

God of every nation and people,
from the very beginning of creation
you have made manifest your love:
when our need for a Savior was great
you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary.
To our lives he brings joy and peace,
justice, mercy, and love.

Lord,
bless all who look upon this manger;
may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus,
and raise our thoughts to him,
who is God-with-us and Savior of all,
and who lives and reigns forever and ever.
R/. Amen.

—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers