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Christmas Novena - starting this Wednesday





Christmas Novena



Feast of St. Andrew November 30th – a meaningful saint to commemorate and to pray to “drop your nets and follow Jesus!” (see more about St. Andrew below) we aren’t praying to St. Andrew during these prayers leading up to Christmas. The Christmas Novena itself is actually directed toward God Himself. We are praying to God to with joyful anticipation and confidence, to grant our deepest longings as we ponder entering the manger scene, kneeling by Mary, with Jesus – so – so close to Him Our Savior and King! The novena begins on the feast of St. Andrew, November 30th. 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.

Feeling cold, alone, isolated – I’ve been there, as has the Holy Family. If the Holy Family was there, by their example, we too can wait, trust, hope in that which we can’t imagine, we can’t see yet we will be awestruck by what God has in store for us.



The words of this prayer have been a gateway, direction for me to navigate my way to the stable, to His heart, next to Mary. As Advent approaches, I wanted to share this gift with you with the hope that it might be an anchor for you too, to remain in silence, anticipation and longing to feel the closeness of Jesus.


When praying these prayers I often find myself focusing on ‘the star’ – the start of Bethlehem and Our Lady Star of the Sea (another title for Our Lady of Sorrows!) so it’s fitting to follow Our Lady of Sorrows Novena staying on this path to the Nativity.


Many years ago, a family was suffering greatly, they needed a miracle, and comfort.

One of their family members sent out an invitation for us to join them in praying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayers. They mentioned how their family had a tradition of praying this prayer, and so, with the tragedy they were facing, it was fitting for them to all commit to praying together. I remember pondering what an honor it was to be invited into their family tradition, the intimacy it invited, especially during their trials, and this was a way for me to remain close to them and to keep my focus on Jesus. The sense of swaddling their family and mine in a blanket of promises of peace to come.


As years have passed, our family has also continued with this tradition, sometimes far past Christmas. Our family also has a tradition, when, at times we’re too weary or rushed to pray our family Rosary, one of us will suggest, ‘how about favorite prayers tonight?’ The comfort and rhythm of this Christmas prayer often flows from one of our hearts. “Hail and blessed…”


In our family, we’ve found success by each of us trying to pray 5 recitations upon waking, another 5 later in the day, so that by evening, our family will often pray the last 5 recitations and still pray a decade or more of the Rosary.


Through the years I’ve been surprised by how many other families consider this tradition a treasure, something they look forward to. For me, there’s something about the rhythm, the words, that slow my breathing to a fitting pace to recollect. The rosary, that’s another story – oh my -I rush and it’s painful sometimes for me to be prayerful and present. I try. If someone tries to rush this Christmas Novena prayers I readily feel the hastiness, it feels disturbing. I’m grateful for the grace that I feel flowing in the moment as I feel present with Jesus, Mary and Joseph in that hour, in that moment, in the freezing cold, yet a blanket of snow, warm comforting snow starts to fall upon my shoulders, then melts into my heart and I yearn for kneeling by their side.


Someone very close to me, who, through the years I found out also maintains this tradition, once suggested I sit and ponder the empty manger, and wait, watch, ask Jesus to help me get there. So, between the star and the empty manger, I vacillate, I wander, wonder and ponder as I pray:


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 the 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.

Amen


I’m blessed.

I’m praying for you with the Holy Family.

Gratefully,

Robin



It is piously believed that whoever recites the St. Andrew Christmas novena prayer FIFTEEN times each day from the feast of St. Andrew (November 30th) until Christmas Eve will obtain the favor requested.



More about St. Andrew

St. Andrew, also known as Andrew the Apostle, wa


s a Christian Apostle and the older brother to St. Peter.

Andrew's very name means strong and he was known for having good social skills.

Luke 5:7, it mentions Simon was not the only fisherman on the boat, but it is not until Luke 6:14 that there is talk of Andrew being Simon Peter's brother.

However, the Gospel of John tells a separate story, stating Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John the Baptist stated, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" It is then that Andrew and another made the decision to follow Jesus.

The first one to be called by Jesus

“We have found the Messiah”, expresses the great joy of the apostle Andrew. Those are the words we find in John’s Gospel when Andrew rushes to meet his brother Simon Peter to tell him what he has discovered and to share his joy at being the first one called by Jesus. A fisherman from Bethsaida of Galilee and a disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew recognizes the “Lamb of God” in the son of Joseph the carpenter. The disciple recalled the time of this encounter at the Jordan river that would mark his life forever, “it was about four in the afternoon”.

He immediately left his nets and followed Him

“Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus responded immediately to this question of Andrew and the other disciple, saying, “Come, and you will see”. That clear invitation foreshadowed the following, more explicit call Jesus made on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to Simon, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men”. The two disciples were still taken aback, but did not have any hesitation following Jesus, as the evangelist Matthew writes, “At once they left their nets and followed him”.

From that first exchange with each other, a journey of faith began in following Jesus in his daily ministry. Andrew is one of the twelve apostles, whom the Son of God chose as one of his closest friends. He must have been amazed when he witnessed the multiplication of the loaves of bread and fish. Before the miracle, when he turned his gaze on the hungry crowds and saw only five loaves of bread and two fish, he asked “what good are these for so many?”



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