What is Advent?
Beginning the Church’s liturgical year, Advent (from, “ad-venire” in Latin or “to come to”)is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and to the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth on Christmas. From the earliest days of the Church, people have been fascinated by Jesus’ promise to come back. But the scripture readings during Advent tell us not to waste our time with predictions. Advent is not about speculation. Our Advent readings call us to be alert and ready, not weighted down and distracted by the cares of this world (Lk 21:34-36). Like Lent, the liturgical color for Advent is purple since both are seasonst hat prepare us for great feast days. Advent also includes an element of penance in the sense of preparing, quieting, and disciplining our hearts for the full joy of Christmas
Blessing of the Advent Wreath
With hands joined, the leader says: Lord our God, we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ: he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples, he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us, he is the Savior of every nation. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation. May he come quickly and not delay. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen.
LIGHTING THE ADVENT CANDLE PRAYERS
Sunday, December 3, 2023 – 1st Sunday of Advent – Hope
Light one purple candle.
Reflect: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light shined.” Isiah 9:2 Pause for Reflection
Pray: Dear Jesus, you are the hope in our messy world. This Advent, help us slow down, listen to your voice, and focus on what’s really important. We place our hope in you as we prepare our hearts to celebrate your birth on Christmas. Amen.
Sunday, December 10, 2023 – 2nd Sunday of Advent – Peace
Light two purple candles.
Reflect: “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7 Pause for Reflection
Pray: Dear Jesus, you entered our world on Christmas as the Prince of Peace. This Advent we strive to become the best version of ourselves, fill us with a deep and abiding peace. Help us share that peace with everyone we encounter, especially those who need it most. Amen.
Sunday, December 17, 2023 – 3rd Sunday of Advent – Joy
Light two purple candles and the pink candle.
Reflect: “And the shepherds returned. Glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it has been told them.” Luke 2:20 Pause for Reflection
Pray: Dear Jesus, help us focus on you during this busy season. May we stay aware of the joy you bring into our lives. We want to find you in the everyday moments and come with hearts of gratitude to your manger on Christmas. Amen.
Sunday, December 24, 2023 – 4th Sunday of Advent – Love
Light all four candles.
Reflect: “And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.’” Luke 2:10-11 Pause for Reflection
Pray: Dear Jesus, may the light of your love always shine in our hearts. As Christmas drawers closer, we marvel at your great love for us. Let your love transform every aspect of our lives and touch everyone we encounter. Our hearts are open to you, Jesus. Amen.
Blessing of the Nativity Sce
With hands joined, the leader says: God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love: when our need for a Savior was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy, and love. Lord, bless all who look upon this manger; may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise our thoughts to him, who is God-with-us and Savior of all, and who lives and reigns forever and ever. R/. Amen.
Blessing of the Christmas Tree
With hands joined, the leader says: Lord our God, we praise you for the light of creation; the sun, the moon, and the stars of night. We praise you for the light of Israel: the Law, the prophets, the wisdom of the Scriptures. We praise you for Jesus Christ, your son; he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love. Lord God, let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree. May the light and cheer it gives be sign of the joy that fills our hearts. May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen. (The Lights of the tree are then illuminated.) After tree has been lit, make the sign of the crossas the Leader says: May the God of glory fill our hearts with peace and joy, now and forever. R/. Amen.
Prayer Before the Christmas Creche
Lord as Joseph was; help us to be devout and intimately united to you, as Our Lady was; help us to bow down in worship as the Magi did; help us to tremble in wonder and awe at the mysteries of your power and love as the Shepherds did; help us to sing your praises as the angels did and help us, above all, to imitate your Son.
Christmas Dinner Prayers
Christmas is similar to Thanksgiving in that it’s customary to enjoy a large, once-a-year-type of a meal. The food on the menu varies by culture, and in some traditions, Christmas Eve is the night of the large dinner celebration (the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes is a well-known example of this.) Whether your family prepares a feast on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or just enjoys a simple meal filled with fellowship, saying a prayer at dinner centers the gathering on the meaning of the occasion: the birth of Jesus.
Here are three options for Christmas dinner prayers:
• “Dear God, we thank you for everyone gathered here this evening, for the food we will enjoy, and for the love we all share. We give thanks this day for the birth of our Savior. In His name we pray. Amen.”
• “Heavenly Father, bless this food and bless this meal. Since Jesus came into our world and delivered us salvation, we rejoice in the promise of salvation and pray that our fellowship today brings us deeper into communion with You. We ask this as we ask all things, through Christ, our Lord. amen.
• “God, recently, our days have been joy-filled yet busy. Occasionally, we get distracted from the true meaning of Christmas. As we gather here tonight, in this quiet moment, we feel your loving embrace. We are filled with gratitude for this meal, this fellowship, and all the blessings you give us. Amen.”
The Tradition of the Christmas Wafer “Oplatki”
Christmas wafer (Polish: opłatek, plural opłatki; Lithuanian: kalėdaitis, plural kalėdaičiai; Slovak: oblátka, plural oblátky) is a Catholic Christmas tradition celebrated in Poland, Lithuania, and Slovakia.The custom is traditionally observed during Kūčios in Lithuania and Wigilia in Poland on December 24. The unleavened wafers are baked from pure wheat flour and water, are usually rectangular in shape and very thin; they are identical in composition to the altar bread that becomes the Eucharist at the consecration during Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. The Opłatki wafers are embossed with Christmas related religious images, varying from the nativity scene, especially Virgin Mary with baby Jesus, to the Star of Bethlehem. Before partaking of the Christmas Eve meal, the family gathers around the table. The eldest member holds a large wafer and breaks off a piece to begin the ritual. The remaining wafer is passed on to another member while a prayer for loved ones is said. This continues until everyone at the table has a piece of the wafer. Finally, each family member gives wishes to every other family member, consuming a piece of wafer broken off of the wafer piece of the person to whom they were giving their wishes. The breaking of the Christmas wafer is a custom that began in Poland in the 10th century and is practiced by people of Polish ancestry around the world. It is considered the most ancient and beloved of Polish traditions. In Poland and some parts of Central Europe, these Christmas wafers are dyed and used as ornaments. They are also sent as small trinkets with greeting cards to loved ones who are away from home. The Christmas wafer symbolizes the unity of the family, which many consider to be the main pillar of society. According to beliefs, the bond of unity should exist between family members. The father is seen as the link in the unbroken chain of One Body, One Bread, One Christ, and One Church, while other family members join him in this eternal procession. The wafer also symbolizes forgiveness and reconciliation.
Epiphany “Chalking of the Doors” – Blessing of Your Home for 2024
The Feast of the Epiphany is January 6th. The practice is called “chalking the doors” because priests traditionally would bless the house and then use chalk to write above the main entrance the specific year, separated by the letters C, M and B (e.g., 20+C+M+B+24, for the 2024 blessing). The inscription is applied as a prayer that Christ will bless homes so marked and that he will stay with those who dwell there throughout the year and with any guest who may cross their threshold. The letters stand for the Latin blessing, “Christus Mansionem Benedicat (May Christ Bless this House),” as well as the legendary names for the three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, most often seen symbolically to represent Asia, Europe and Africa, respectively. As Scripture records, “the three, going into the house, saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh.” To this day, many Catholics in Latin American cultures call the feast of the Epiphany Dîa de los Reyes (“Three Kings Day”) and, instead of Christmas day, delight in the “twelfth day of Christmas” as the day for exchanging gifts in imitation of the Magi who brought their gifts to the Lord Jesus.
On the weekend of January 6th & 7th, the parish will distribute at mass a package containing chalk, Holy Water, and the blessing for 2024. For those parishioners who join us from home, packets will be available outside the rectory garage, on January 7 from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. We ask you to pray and bless your home and mark the doorpost with initials of the wisemen and the year 2024. May God bless our homes in 2024!