Friday, November 29, 2013

Three Reasons I Love Advent

When Micaela, at California to Korea, introduced an Advent twist to her Three Reasons I Love Catholicism blog link-up, asking for Three Reasons I Love Advent, I thought about this post from last Advent, inspired by a homily given by Bishop Donald Hying, the auxiliary bishop in Milwaukee, regarding St. Bernard's Three Advents, and knew that it was definitely worth repeating here in addition to my Three Reasons...

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Bishop Hying preaching at Roses for Our Lady's 2012 Advent holy hour
 According to St. Bernard, the three Advents include the coming of the Christ Child into the world though the  Virgin birth which is the first Advent and the final coming of Christ at the end of time which is the third Advent.  In the first Advent He comes to save us and in the third Advent He will call us home.  These are the Advents of promise and fulfillment. 
 
But the second Advent is the Advent of the here and now, the Advent of the present moment.  Christ dwells within our souls in this Advent of struggle and His presence within us brings us comfort and reassurance.   Since a definition of the word "advent" is "coming" I find it very appealing to meditate on Christ coming to me now when I need Him the most, like a hero coming to the rescue of a fair maiden in distress.  Wherever you are right now, whatever state of sinfulness or sanctity, sorrow or joy, distraction or rest in which you currently find yourself, Christ is coming to you to bring you His peace. 

 
He's coming to you in the smile of a baby, in the embrace of a child, in the wisdom of an elderly friend.  He's coming to you in the kindness of a stranger, in the peace of a gentle song, in the whisper of a prayer.   He's coming to you now, bringing you His love and His peace.  Can you feel Him?  Can you feel the Advent of Christ within your heart and soul right now?

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ADVENT PRAYER

An idyllic Advent is hushed, peaceful, quiet, and still as we wait for the coming of the Lord.  Unfortunately, the Advents of my experience, beautiful as they often are, do not resemble an ideal life.  The reality, which I'm sure is not mine alone, is a rushed, busy, noisy, frantic season where I struggle to keep up with the demands of family, work and volunteer responsibilities while I take on the additional demands of preparing to create a memorable Christmas season.  But oh, those sweet moments of Advent prayer that come along each day and through which my soul is revived as I wait for the glory and joy of the Incarnation!  Here are three of those prayers, three reasons that I love Advent....
our homemade Advent wreath-greens from our backyard cedar tree are placed in a pie plate
and the votive candles are added to the center


1.  Advent Wreath  

Each year, I cut the fragrant greens from our backyard cedar trees, fill a dish with them, and then tuck the seasonal candles of purple and pink within the greens.  The evening candle-lighting ceremony at our family dinner table is a precious tradition that draws our busy family together for a brief moment of peaceful prayer for which I am deeply grateful.

2.  St. Andrew's Novena 

Are you familiar with the St. Andrew Novena?  This powerful prayer begins on November 30th and continues until Christmas Eve.  The following prayer is prayed 15 times in succession for your intentions.  This year I will be praying for healing for my friend, Ed Slattery, who has been suffering from head and neck cancer for the past three years with no relief in sight.  Would you join me in praying this novena, for Ed, and for all of your own intentions?
 
St. Andrew's 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. At that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of our Savior, Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

How did Cardinal Dolan get into our Creche?
It's not really the Cardinal, it's just his Christmas card from last year
strategically placed among my shepherds and kings!
3.  Spiritual Christmas Crib  

Each morning, as I begin my Advent day, I like to help prepare the Christmas crib for the Christ Child.  I do this by using a "Spiritual Christmas Crib" Prayer that allows me to focus my day on some quality that would be appealing to the Lord and will allow me to become a bit more pleasing to Him each day.  The format and prayers are below so that you, too, may prepare your Christmas Crib for the Infant.
To help make your Advent peaceful and blessed, not hectic and stressed, join Micaela to share your own three favorite reasons to love Advent and to learn about what others do to prepare their hearts for the Lord.

A SPIRITUAL CHRISTMAS CRIB

The following directions show you how to build a spiritual crib in your heart for Christ.  Use it to put Christ into your Christmas in a real, living way.

Start on December 1. Read the thought indicated about Christ's first crib.  Practice it during the day. Do this daily during December and make your heart a worthy crib for Christ on Christmas Day.

DEC.1 - THE STABLE
Frequently during the day offer your heart to the little Infant Jesus. Ask Him to make it His home. Sweet Jesus, take my heart and make it meek and pure.

DEC.2 - THE ROOF
See that the roof of the stable is in good condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected from rain and snow. This you will do by carefully avoiding every uncharitable remark. Jesus, teach me to love my neighbor as myself.

DEC.3 - CREVICES
Carefully stop every crevice in the walls of the stable, so that the wind and cold may not enter
there. Guard your senses against temptations. Guard especially your ears against sinful conversations. Jesus, help me to keep temptations out of my heart.

DEC.4 - COBWEBS
Clean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib.  Diligently remove from your heart every
inordinate desire of being praised. Renew this intention at least three times today.  My Jesus,
I want to please You in all I do today.

DEC.5 - FENCE
Build a fence about the crib of your heart by keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially
at prayer.  Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.

DEC.6 - MANGER
Fix the best and warmest corner of your heart for the manger of Jesus. You will do so by
abstaining from what you like most in the line of comfort and amusement. Mary, use these
sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in Holy Communion.

DEC.7 - HAY
Supply the manger of your heart with hay, by overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy.
Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest sins.

DEC.8 - SOFT STRAW
Provide your manger with soft straw by performing little acts of mortification; for
instance, bear the cold without complaints; or sit and stand erect.  Dear Jesus, Who suffered so
much for me, let me suffer for love of You.

DEC.9 - SWADDLING CLOTHES
Prepare these for the Divine Infant by folding your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and
thoughtfully. Jesus let me love you more and more.

DEC.10 - BLANKETS
Provide the manger with soft warm blankets. Avoid harsh and angry words; be kind and
gentle to all. Jesus, help me to be meek and humble like You.

DEC.11 - FUEL
Bring fuel to the crib of Jesus. Give up your own will; obey your superiors cheerfully and
promptly. Jesus, let me do Your will in all things.

DEC.12-WATER
Bring fresh clean water to the crib. Avoid every untruthful word and every deceitful act.
Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for my sins.

DEC.13 - PROVISIONS
Bring a supply of food to the crib. Deprive yourself of some food at mealtime or candy as a
treat. Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.

DEC.14 - LIGHT
See that the crib has sufficient light. Be neat and orderly about your person; keep
everything in its place in your room. Jesus, be the life and light of my soul.

DEC.15 - FIRE
Take care to have the crib of your heart warmed by a cozy fire. Be grateful to God for the love He
has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful respect towards your parents and relatives  Jesus, how can I return Your love; how can I show my gratitude to You?

DEC.16 - THE OX
Lead the ox to the crib. Obey cheerfully without making excuses and without asking "why." I will
obey for love of You, Jesus.

DEC.17 - THE DONKEY
Bring the donkey to the crib. Offer to the Divine Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service
of others. Jesus, accept my service of love; I offer it for those who do not love You.

DEC.18 - GIFTS
Gather some presents for the Divine Infant and His Blessed Mother. Give alms for the poor and say
an extra decade of the rosary. Come, Jesus, to accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.

DEC.19 - LAMBS
Strive to bring some little lambs, meek and and patient. Do not murmur or complain. Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours.

DEC.20 - SHEPHERDS
Invite the shepherds to pay homage to our newborn King. Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your
speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is important because Jesus will be born again in you.
Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.

DEC.21 - THE KEY
Provide the stable with a key to keep out thieves. Exclude from your heart every sinful
thought, every rash judgment. Dear Jesus, close my heart to all that hurts you.

DEC.22 - ANGELS
Invite the angels to adore God with you. Cheerfully obey the inspirations of your guardian angel and of your conscience. Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that You are with me always.

DEC.23 - ST. JOSEPH
Accompany Saint Joseph from door to door. Learn from him silently and patiently to bear refusals
and disappointments. Open wide your heart and beg Him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy Christmas Communion.

DEC.24 - THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Go meet your Blessed Mother. Lead her to the manger of your heart and beg her to lay the
Divine Infant in it. Shorten your chats and telephone conversations and spend more time today
thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.  Come, dear Jesus, Come; my heart belongs to You.

"Devotions in Preparation for the Coming of the Christchild, and at the Crib, from Christmas to
Purification" by Rev. Frederic Nelson


3 comments:

  1. Wow - so much good stuff here, especially for someone like me who has basically no background in celebrating Advent (especially a non-kid version). Thanks especially for the novena. Why is it called St. Andrew's novena? He wasn't there at the birth of Christ.

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  2. Anna, thanks for this note and your question about the St. Andrew novena. Although I have been praying it my whole life, I never knew that it was called the "St. Andrew Novena" until a few years ago, I always thought it was just called "The Christmas Prayer." I believe that it is named for St. Andrew because it begins on his feast day. My friend, Mary Anne, wrote a beautiful post about St. Andrew and the novena on her blog, Salve Sancta Mater Dei. I'm sure you would find it to be very inspiring and will learn so much more about St. Andrew and the novena by reading it. Have a blessed Advent! You can find it here: http://salvematerdei.com/2013/11/29/blessed-feast-of-st-andrew-the-christmas-novena/

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  3. So very beautiful, Anne! I especially love the part about the 3 Advents! I have never heard of it before, and now I have something new to meditate on this Advent-in-the-present.

    Have a very joyful Advent!

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