“Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son, that through His coming we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.”
As we head into the last week before Christmas, I want you to spend some time pondering what the season of Advent means to you and how you can continue to use this time to grow in your relationship with Christ.
Advent has been a time of preparation since the fourth century. It is a time of new life and marks the beginning of the new church year. We are to make ourselves ready for the arrival of Christ – not only celebration of the birth but also for the future return of Christ. Plan a time to go to confession (many offer confession on Saturday afternoons so even if yours doesn’t, a nearby parish might), continue to meditate on God’s word, and spend extra time in prayer this week.
Tomorrow is Gaudet Sunday, which means, “rejoice.” Advent is a time of great joy, and it is specifically recognized on the Third Sunday of Advent. The priests wear rose instead of purple, which is a sign of rejoicing. This coming Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are known as Winter Ember Days, which are optional days of fasting and prayer. Some people observe Ember Days on every Wednesday and Friday or the year, but it is no longer a requirement in the United States. You are absolutely welcome and encouraged to observe them this week if you’d like though. It is a wonderful way to focus on the reason for the season of Advent.
Beginning tomorrow are the O Antiphons, which are another great way to prepare for the coming of Christ. The antiphons are part of the Evening Prayer in the Divine Office and they use ancient bible imagery from the Old Testament to address Christ with seven Messianic titles. There is one for every day until Christmas Eve. The first letter in each of the titles spells out the Latin phrase “Ero cras” which means, “Tomorrow, I will come.”
One custom that is fun comes from monasteries, where monks would bring extra treats to the community every day. Preserved fruit and wine were two treats that were shared by the monks, but you can just have simple treats with dinner, especially if you have children.
How has this Advent been for you so far? Have you kept up with your goals? Have you grown in your relationship with Christ, and prepared yourself for His coming? What can you do this week to continue to prepare and grow?
Pray the O Antiphons this coming week before dinner (or at a convenient time for you/ your family). They are included in this journal.
To Jesus through Mary-Adrianna
December 17 – O Sapientia or O Wisdom O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
December 18 – O Adonai or O Lord and Ruler O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!
December 19 O Radix Jesse or O Root of Jesse O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!
December 20 – O Clavis David or O Key of David O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!
December 21 - O Oriens or O Rising Dawn O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
December 22 – O Rex Gentium or O King of the Nations O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
December 23 – O Emmanuel O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!
From: Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers-http://store.usccb.org/catholic-household- blessings-and- prayers