Advent 2021 is finally here! Over the years, during Advent, I have inherited two prized traditions in my family. One is the tradition of Crib making which is quite popular the world over and the other, which has served my soul much better and continues to do so to this day – the “St Andrew’s Christmas Novena.”
Celebrating Advent and commemorating the real reason for the season of Christmas, is perhaps all the more poignant in our increasingly secular society. With every passing year, we need to be more watchful, ever more aggressive and relentless in order to remind ourselves, and our children, what really is the heart and inspiration of Christmas. I truly believe that with the help of this popular devotion we can make our celebration of Advent even more meaningful and lively.
The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is also known as the “Christmas Novena” or the “Christmas Anticipation Prayer,” since it is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30) until Christmas. It is a perfect Advent devotion; the First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew who was the very first disciple called by Our Lord.
The feast of St. Andrew is found at the beginning of our new liturgical year in keeping with his role as “the first-called.” It’s a great way to enter the Advent season which is marked by a time of anticipation, penance, and prayer. The St Andrew novena would ideally end on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, if it were prayed as a regular nine-day novena. Nevertheless, this novena prayer is prayed much longer than nine days. Indeed, it is prayed throughout all four weeks of Advent, from November 30th until Christmas Eve.
Here is the beautiful prayer:
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, I beseech Thee,
O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires
through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ,
and of His blessed Mother.
The opening words of this prayer— “Hail and blessed be the hour and moment” echoes the Christian beliefs in the important moments in Christ’s life – His conception; His birth in Bethlehem; His death on Calvary; His Resurrection and His Ascension.
The reiteration of the opening sentence of this prayer is intended to place us, mentally and spiritually, at the stable at His birth, just as an icon of the Nativity or a Nativity scene is meant to do. Thus, having entered into His presence, in the second sentence we place our petition at the feet of the newborn Child.
It is piously believed that whoever recites the St Andrew Christmas Novena Prayer fifteen times each day from the feast of St. Andrew until Christmas Eve will obtain whatever favor one asks for.
When prayed as a family, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is a very good way to help focus the attention of your children in the Advent season!(References: www.catholiccompany.com and https://www.learnreligions.com/ Image: theoutreachfoundation.com)