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.
The beautiful St. Andrew novena prayer has become a traditional part of our preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord. Each day from the Feast of St. Andrew, November 30th, until Christmas Day, we repeat the prayer fifteen times. It proves, like the prayers of the rosary, to facilitate meditation on a most holy mystery: the Incarnation, God-made-man, and the wonderful part of the story of our redemption when Christ was born in Bethlehem. This year, the repeated prayer is manifested in even more significance, as our son was given the humbling privilege to paint a nativity scene to be matched with St. Andrew's well-loved petition for Gregory the Great Academy's Christmas art project. Since receiving the triptych, the family has gathered around it each evening to pray - the ancient (but newly depicted by our son's young hand) imagery brought to life by a small but bright and flickering candle flame. There is much to ponder, much to anticipate, much to prepare for!
We hope that all families of good will are gathered together these increasingly cold nights of Advent, prayerfully counting the days til Christmas day together. It is a penitential time writ small, when sacrifice and penance is made - not in the more austere measure of Lent, but still in a way that marks the time as somewhat mortified and pre-celebratory - to prepare for the coming of the Lord. We make attempts to purify ourselves, keeping in mind the purity of Our Lady, blessed vessel of God. We hear John the Baptist's echoing admonitions in our hearts - and also raise our hearts in hope and excitement, we adults like the children, over the most delightful days to come. We sing Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, look forward to our oldest daughter and son coming home for a long Christmas visit, make plans for Christmas Mass and celebrations with family and friends. Dad reads aloud a little of A Christmas Carol each night - a sobering and a heartening tale, evoking chilly thoughts and heartwarming reflections. Outside, if the night is clear the cold makes the pitch dark sky, with its twinkling stars and brilliant but meditative moon, look sharp; and it is not difficult to wonder over Jesus born at midnight in the piercing cold - may He vouchsafe and grant our most fervent prayers! Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!
On this little homestead our family aspires to work the land and hand on the Catholic Tradition, walking in wonder and learning to live by the fruits of our labor, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, who guides us to Him.