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Advent Domestic Church Liturgical Year Maurisa The Latin Mass

3 Devotions for Advent

Advent is such a beautiful season of anticipation and preparation. There are so many wonderful saints to celebrate and devotions to practice.  Over the years we’ve observed the passage of Advent using the Jesse Tree and an Advent Calendar. We’ve joyfully celebrated the feasts of Saint Nicholas, Saint Lucy, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Immaculate Conception. My family loves the traditions associated with each of these devotions. As I’ve learned more about many of the older, lesser known traditions we’ve added more to our Advent observances.  Three absolutely lovely traditional devotions are observing the Advent Ember Days, attending a special advent mass dedicated to Our Lady called a Rorate Mass, and praying the ancient O Antiphons before our evening family rosary.

Ember Days

Basically, Ember Days occur four times a year and roughly coincide with the change of seasons. The Ember Days of Advent fall the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday following Saint Lucy’s feast on December 13th. Ember Days are marked by voluntary, partial fast and abstinence from meat (full abstinence on Friday, of course) as penance, by prayerful gratitude for God’s abundant gifts, and in especial prayer for the priesthood.  If you have access to a Traditional Latin Mass parish you can attend mass in which the Ember Days are particularly observed in the readings and propers for the day. For a more in-depth look at the observance of Ember Days, check out the link at the end of this post to an article I wrote for Catholic Sistas a few years ago.

Rorate Mass

A special mass found only in the Extraordinary Form is the Rorate Caeli Mass or Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary for Advent. It honors the Blessed Mother as the vessel which bore the Light of the World. Celebrated in the early morning before dawn and lit only by candlelight the church progressively grows brighter as the sun begins to rise. The symbolism of awaiting the dawn and arrival of the Light of the World is palpable. What a lovely way to honor Our Lady and what a deeply transcendent way to celebrate Advent meaningfully. I attended my first Rorate Mass last Advent. It was so incredibly peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful. With the times we are living in, if you are blessed enough to have access to a Traditional Latin Mass parish this devotion is definitely one with potential to raise your observance of Advent to a new level.

O Antiphons

Praying the O Antiphons on the days leading up to Christmas Eve is probably the easiest and most accessible of the three devotions to implement. Over a thousand years old, the O Antiphons are the seven antiphons recited preceding the Magnificat during Vespers. They are so named because each antiphon begins with “O”—O Sapientia (Wisdom), O Adonai (Lord), O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (Key of David), O Oriens (Rising sun), O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel (God with Us).  You may recognize each of the 7 titles of the Messiah from the familiar Advent hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel

You can easily pray the O Antiphons at home with your family. Beginning on December 17th and ending on December 23rd recite the appropriate O Antiphon, then the Magnificat, and then the O Antiphon once again. Family Feast and Feria has a lovely free printable prayer booklet you can download to assist in observing this beautiful devotion. For your little ones; Look to Him and Be Radiant has coloring pages for each of the O Antiphons. It’s a wonderful devotion that draws us into the mystery and prophesies of Christ.

If you end up adopting one of these traditional devotions this Advent, let us know in the comments. May you and your families have a most blessed and fruitful Advent and may you be well prepared to welcome the Christ Child into your hearts and homes this Christmas.

References and Resources

What are Ember Days

Rorate Caeli Masses in Honor of Our Lady

Praying the O Antiphons

Categories
Advent Christmas Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Spiritual Growth Victoria K

The Road to Bethlehem & The Flight to Egypt

Two Incredible Moves

Nothing goes together quite like military life and moving.  The longest my husband and I have ever lived anywhere is one year.  My stuff hasn’t been in one place for more than a year since 2011. The transient life can really get under my skin sometimes.  There are times that I really just want one neighborhood, one set of friends, one parish, one job, one doctor, one grocery store… the list goes on.

Focus on the struggles, and it can be unbearable. Last Advent and Christmas Season, however, I was inspired by another wife who found herself moving a lot: Mama Mary.  Her journey on the road to Bethlehem and her flight to Egypt.

After all my moves, I can’t just skim over these passages anymore – The Journey to Bethlehem and The Flight to Egypt hold a special place in my heart now.  They inspire me with their witness of trust and totally abandonment to God’s will – something that I pray for in my own vocation.

 

The Road to Bethlehem

Oh man, pregnancy.  What a beautiful time – and oh goodness but I was nauseous, sick, sore, the list goes on.  We moved down to Charleston and I was pregnant, navigating all the exhaustion and food aversions of first trimester.  It’s so uncomfortable traveling long distances that pregnant. There was no position I could sit in and be comfortable, and I had motion sickness something fierce.

I can’t help but to be struck by our Mama Mary traveling in third trimester (which was my worst trimester) to Bethlehem.  It’s overwhelming to think about all the facets of this journey. This journey for them was hard.  Physically exhausting.  Emotionally exhausting. 

I think about how hard these journeys must have been on Mary’s body.  How Mary had to deliver her child away from her parents, away from her mom, St. Anne. Yes, she had St. Joseph, but I know if I had to pick between my husband and my mama to be there for labor and delivery, I’d pick my mama.  Every day of the week.

How could she endure such a hard journey at such a critical time?

 

The Flight to Egypt

For our next move, we had baby in tow.  Mamas, I don’t know how y’all move with children. It’s stressful, hectic, and overwhelming. You end up packing up just the thing your baby decides she needs for the trip.  Everything is lost, all over the place, naps are messed up, overnight sleep is messed up, eating patterns are messed up, everything is messed up. We moved up to Norfolk with a baby screaming the whole way there.

Moving with a baby, I connect it with the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt.  How there was no idea of how things would be taken care of. When would they be settled? When would they come home?  Where was home?

How do you make such a dramatic move with a newborn?

 

Radical Trust

The answer to the questions is so simple and clear, but so hard to live out: radical trust.

If we have anything we can learn from the Holy Family, it is total abandonment to God’s call.  Both times they gave everything to God. Just look at St. Joseph’s response to the call to go to Egypt in Matthew 2:13-15.  They just went. They didn’t say anything. They didn’t complain like I always do about having to pack things and leave all my favorite places and people behind.

Finally, as I still encounter moving stickers, unpacked boxes, everything in all its newness, I contemplate  the Holy Family in Egypt. The bible doesn’t say a whole lot about that time. But they would’ve been foreigners in a strange place.  They would’ve started a new life. Worked, raised Jesus, form community.  

Although the bible never explicitly states it, I have to believe that they approached it with peace, with love, with trust.

As my husband starts his new job, and I work to raise my baby girl, and we all work to find our place in this community, meditating on the Holy Family in Egypt is a great solace.  

God has called my family and me to this life.  He has called all of our families to a myriad of crazy situations. For all of us, there are moments that are hectic, stressful, chaotic, difficult, messy.

  

 

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Advent Bible Devon Wattam Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth

Lectio Divina: Grow Closer to God This Advent Through Divine Reading

Catholics get a bad rap when it comes to reading and knowing their Bible. It’s a shame, really, because not only is nearly every line from the Mass and sacraments imbued with biblical references and tradition, but there is so much grace, healing, and strength to be gained from spiritual reading.

Recently, I’ve been happy to see more priests and parishes incorporating biblical reading into their homilies, in addition to the scriptural references made on their bulletins, websites, and social media accounts. 

Catholics are thirsty for the active word of God in their daily lives, whether they realize it or not.

Now that the new liturgical year has begun with the start of Advent, we should all be striving to renew our hearts for the start of a new beginning and the coming of the Savior—the perfect opportunity to make scriptural reading a priority and habit.

But getting started can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never read the Bible on your own before. I’ve heard people say they’re going to read it from cover to cover, having never read even a chapter before. On the other hand, some people say they’ll just open the book and whatever page it lands on must be what God wants them to see. This lack of direction rarely ends well, especially for those unfamiliar with the scriptures. 

Lectio Divina, or “divine reading,” is a powerful way for beginners and seasoned Bible-readers to grow closer to God through the scriptures. It’s short, thoughtful, and effective. Here’s how it works:

Step One: Read

Choose a specific text from the Bible that you’re going to read. It could be as short as a few lines or as long as a chapter. Length is not important; what matters is getting to know the text. Light a candle or put gentle background music on to help you calm your thoughts, and ask the Lord to speak to your heart. 

Then thoughtfully and carefully read, paying close attention to any word, phrase, or image that jumps out to you. There’s no need to feel pressured or forced, simply sit with the reading and patiently wait for the Holy Spirit to speak to you.

Step Two: Meditate

After you’ve read your passage once, read it slowly and intentionally once more. While you do so, reflect on the word, phrase, or image that stuck out to you. This is not the time to overanalyze the theological aspects of the reading. It’s about listening to what God is saying to you. 

Step Three: Contemplate

After reading the scripture a third time, spend a few minutes in silence. Try not to pray or meditate. Instead, simply sit with God and be open to his guidance. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops tells us that when practicing contemplation during Lectio Divina, “one [is given] a unique ability to connect one’s newly discovered insights to daily life experiences.” In this way, God’s words become even more relevant to our own personal lives. They live on.

Step Four: Prayer

After reading, meditating, and contemplating on the word of God, it’s time for you to respond. What will you say back to him? A powerful way to do so is by writing down your thoughts or prayers in a journal as you read the passage. It doesn’t have to be formal or formulaic. It should be as simple and casual as speaking to a friend. Feel free to write it down, pray it out loud, or hold it in your heart.

The events, stories, and teachings of the Bible are as captivating and significant today as they ever were. There is truth waiting to be revealed to each one of us personally through the unbelievable events that took place over 2,000 years ago. I pray that this Advent season, we all take the opportunity to grow closer to our Lord through Lectio Divina.

 The Holy Spirit has things to tell us, if only we give him the chance to speak.

 

 

Categories
Advent Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Maurisa Of Note Series

Of Note–December 2019

Let’s face it, we are all busy, modern women and we just don’t have the time or the energy to vet or read everything the Catholic blogosphere has to offer. We have streamlined that for you and offer you the most worthy, relevant reads that will keep you informed and in-tune without wasting your precious time. Each month, on the first Friday, you can find Of Note filled with posts that are inspiring, knowledgeable, cover current events, and liturgical living.

We are continually looking for new and lesser known bloggers to feature here on Of Note. If you write a blog or know of one we should take a look at leave a link in the combox or email me at: OfNote@CatholicSistas.com


We are nearly a week into Advent 2019. Here is what we’ve found worth reading in the world of Catholic blogging.

Liturgical Living

Lacey of Catholic Icing has a cute song to help kids learn about Advent.

My Catholic Kitchen has a wonderful recipe for mulled wine in honor of Saint John’s feast day at the end of this month but as the days get colder and shorter, I’m thinking anytime is a good time for mulled wine.

Hidden Gems

Father John Hollowell is such a wonderful homilist but occasionally he also writes on his blog. This piece is a combination of a homily and notes from the homily on being a people who wait on a God who waits is a perfect reflection for Advent.

If you haven’t quite finished your Christmas shopping, Kathryn of Team Whitaker has a fantastic gift guide worth a gander.

Haley of Carrots for Michelmas also has a wonderful gift guide focusing on small family businesses and includes several coupon codes.

The Professionals

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the advent of the Novus Ordo. Father Roger Landry, of the National Catholic Register, pens a thought provoking piece on how the Novus Ordo was meant to be celebrated.

Sarah Damm of Blessed is She has some wonderful advice on waiting for Christmas to celebrate even while the world prematurely celebrates around us.

We lived in Japan for three years 20 plus years ago. While we attended Mass at the base chapel, we had the opportunity to attend Mass in a Japanese Catholic church on several occasions. Catholics make up less than 1% of the population in Japan and I found it fascinating to see how Japanese Catholics practiced their faith. Ken Foye of One Peter 5 teaches in a public university in Japan. This article explores the pros and cons of being a Catholic in Japan.

Ink Slingers

Our own Michelle Fritz writes a raw and wrenching reflection on dealing with painful memories during a season of celebration.

From the Archives

Ink Slinger Celeste Bowen wrote a simple tutorial for crafting a crown for Saint Lucy’s Day–celebrated on December 13th. If you have one or several daughters this is a great project and a fun way to observe the feast.

Categories
Advent Antonia Goddard Ink Slingers Liturgical Year

Being the Living Crib

Being the Living Crib

As we come into the beginning of the liturgical year, Advent is a time for us to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. Let’s take a moment to look at how Jesus came to us – and why His being born into a family was no coincidence.

Jesus could have stepped out of Heaven with a trumpet blast, but He didn’t. He was born into a family, born of a young woman and laid in a manger – the humblest of origins, you might think. But by being born into a family just as each and every one of us was, God bestowed the greatest of blessings on families, showing the unique and powerful relationship that families share. Those called to the family life have an incredible vocation, and nothing reminds us of this more than Advent.

This Advent, many families will prepare a crib scene to prepare for Christmas and celebrate the coming of Our Lord. It’s a great Advent task for families of all ages and sizes, and can be made to any size and budget – I encourage you to give it a go! Everyone can get involved in their own way, from making the figures to clearing a space to put it! For inspiration, check out some of the beautiful Neapolitan crib scenes – complete with lights, sounds effects, moving parts, and even fountains! Your crib doesn’t need to be as fancy as any of those, but made with love, it will be a beautiful blessing to your home.

And this Advent, let’s make our families a living, breathing embodiment of the crib, and follow the example of the Holy Family to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Let us each work like Joseph to contribute to the family home in our own way. Let us nurture one another, as Mary nurtured her Son. And let us love one another, as Christ loved us, praising Him as the angels and shepherds did, worshipping him as the Wise Men.

Advent is the start of the liturgical year, so if you make New Year’s Resolutions, this is a great opportunity to make some new ones for the whole family – and take up some great habits! You could commit to volunteering together, or going to a weekday Mass, or spending some time with people in your parish in need. This Advent, prepare your home to be a living crib scene, and your heart to be the manger in which Our Lord lay. 

Read more in our Advent archives or visit our Advent board on Pinterest!