Veni Veni Emmanuel
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From Scott P. Richert, your Guide to Catholicism
As fall descends upon the Northern Hemisphere, the Catholic liturgical year draws to a close. In the traditional calendar, many of the feasts between mid-September and the First Sunday in Advent make reference to conflicts between Christianity and Islam, and great victories in battles in which the Church–and, more broadly, Christendom–was threatened.
The memory of these events turns our thoughts to the end times, when the Church will undergo trials and tribulations before the return of Christ the King. It may not be obvious how dedicating the month of October to the Holy Rosary fits into this pattern. But the rosary–and, more specifically, Our Lady of the Rosary–is credited with victory in a number of the battles commemorated in these final months of the year. Read more…
Many Protestants attack the rosary not simply because it is a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary but because of the fact that, in praying the rosary, we recite the same prayers over and over. And, sadly, in recent decades (no pun intended) many Catholics have begun to question the rosary for the same reason. But are rote prayers like the rosary really a problem? Or can they be an aid to a deeper prayer life? Read more…
Each one of us, the Church teaches, has our own guardian angel, who protects us both spiritually and physically. That physical protection is a reflection of the dignity that God has instilled in our bodies, and not simply our souls. We should thank God and our guardian angel for such great care, and make the Guardian Angel Prayer that we learned as children a part of our daily prayer life.
Most Catholics know the Prayer of Saint Francis (“Make me a channel of your peace . . . “), but this Act of Love, which he also wrote, is less well known. An act of spiritual communion, it expresses our belief in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and asks Him to come into our heart even when we cannot receive Him physically.
This newsletter is written by:
Scott P. Richert
249 West 17th Street
New York, NY, 10011
© 2012 About.com
For many of us, this final week before Christmas is the most hectic of the year. Between office Christmas parties and “holiday” pageants at our children’s schools, we’re baking Christmas cookies and trying to squeeze in some last-minute shopping. And in the process, our nerves get frazzled, and we lose sight of what Christmas really means.
The tension and the stress and the frenetic pace, however, make this the perfect time to stop, take a deep breath, and take stock of our souls. Setting aside a few minutes here and there throughout the day to concentrate on Christ will not only help us prepare to celebrate Christmas with greater joy, but it will also bring us peace right now, when we need it most. Here are a few ideas that might help.
If asked to name an Advent hymn, most people would reply, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” In fact, that may be the only Advent hymn they know by name, and small wonder: It is the most popular of all Advent hymns, and most parishes start singing it on the First Sunday in Advent. But do you know where the hymn comes from? You can find a hint in the “Featured Articles” below.
Just as the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena lasts longer than nine days, I would like to suggest that we pray the prayer I have chosen for our novena this week for 12 days—the 12 days of Christmas, starting on Christmas Day itself and running through January 5, the eve of Epiphany. And while you’re waiting for this novena to begin on Christmas, don’t forget to keep saying last week’s novena, The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the way up through Christmas Eve.
Does Advent have a future? At first glance, that may seem like a strange question. Advent, the period of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas, has been celebrated in one form or another for at least 1,500 years, and while the Catholic Church no longer prescribes fasting during this penitential season, She also clearly has no intention of giving the season up. What I have in mind in asking this question, however, is something a bit different.
For all of the talk of a “War on Christmas” over the last several years, the public celebration of Christmas seems to be doing just fine. The same cannot be said for Advent–and that may ultimately have dire consequences for Christmas itself.
Our novena this week is unique. Unlike other novenas, the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is not prayed for just nine days but every day between the Feast of Saint Andrew (November 30) and Christmas. And it is prayed 15 times per day.
Did you know that we celebrated a New Year on Sunday? The First Sunday of Advent marks the start of the liturgical year of the Catholic Church. Why not live this “little Lent” to the fullest by making a liturgical New Year’s resolution?
I hope that all of my readers in the United States had a very happy Thanksgiving. Filled up on turkey and pumpkin pie, it’s all too easy to slide right into the Christmas season, while forgetting all about Advent. But that would be a mistake. As my friend Fr. John P. Mack, Jr., wrote a few days ago, “If you would like to keep Christ in Christmas, keep Advent in Advent.”
The links in this newsletter will help you take Father Mack’s advice. You can refer back to it throughout Advent, and forward it to your Catholic friends and relatives. And be sure to check the About.com Catholicism GuideSite every day during Advent for more Advent devotions and practices.
Advent comes around every year, four Sundays before Christmas–a time most people think of as “the Christmas shopping season.” How much do you know about the purpose of this season of the Church long known as the “little Lent”?
Advent is long this year–27 days (the longest it can be is 28)–and the Church packs a number of important feasts, including one Holy Day of Obligation, into that short span of time. Check out this listing of the major feasts, and consider incorporating their celebration into your preparations for Christmas.
One of the most popular Catholic Advent customs is the Advent wreath. But did you know that it originated among German Lutherans? Learn more about the history and practice of the Advent wreath, and check out the links in the right column to find out how to make, bless, and light your own!
An excellent way to focus our thoughts and deepen our understanding of the meaning of Advent is to turn to the Bible. Through the Office of the Readings, the Church provides us each day with a reading from the Old Testament book of the Prophet Isaiah that helps us on our journey toward Christmas.
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