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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

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Ink Slingers

2020 Advent Photo Challenge


This year as been a weird year. I find myself repeating the phrase, “The days are long but the months are short,” in reference to things happening in my life. And being aware of where we are liturgically in the Catholic Church is no exception. How can we be so close to Advent already!? It begins on Sunday!

With so much of our normal disrupted or different, and despite doing weekly pre-Mass prep of reflecting on the readings mid-week (which have been about the end times as the liturgical year comes to a close), my mind is still somewhat stuck in June and late Easter Season / early Ordinary time. So the shift into thinking and preparing myself for Advent is hard.

To help with that mind shift, I will be participating in several Advent traditions I have every year, and try a new thing or two so I can immerse myself a little more into the Advent season.

For me, integrating some new Advent efforts (such as sidewalk chalk art catechesis being one of them, which I have been doing periodically with saints and Sundays), and mixing in the normal-for-me traditions of Christmas movie watching, decorating our home for Christmas, daily Advent reading reflections, and the Catholic Sistas Advent Photo Challenge, I feel like I can at least somewhat move into the Season of Advent; of waiting and anticipating for the joy of Christ’s birth.

The Catholic Sistas Photo Challenges are always a way for me to be a little more aware of God’s presence in my daily life. And during this time of uncertainty and disruption due to Covid, I’m hoping and planning to use the Photo Challenge as a way to root me a little more into the Advent season; letting it draw me more into the season of preparation for Christ. I won’t be out doing as much (because of safety and there’s just not as much to go out and do right now!) so this year’s Photo Challenge is an excellent way to look around me, my home, family, small Covid safe-interactions and reflect on where I see Christ, as well as where I am lacking Christ and need growth.

Join Us!

So if you need something to help root you a little bit more into reflecting on the Season of Advent, or you just enjoy reflecting on your faith visually, consider joining us at Catholic Sistas for our 2020 Advent Photo Challenge. Joining me in sharing photos and reflections this Advent Season are Allison, Anna, Celeste, Kristin, Laura, Mandi, and Rosemary.

And because it’s fun to share your photos and reflections with others and see what others share, it’s nice to be a part of at least one of our main social media platforms- Facebook or Instagram– but you don’t have to be. As long as the Advent Photo Challenge provides you with an opportunity to reflect during the season of Advent and prepare for Christmas, that’s what matters.

To help you in your challenge, below you’ll find the whats, hows and hashtag info for joining the 2020 Advent Photo Challenge. Advent starts THIS Sunday, November 29! I’m excited to see how the Holy Spirit moves us during Advent as we prepare for Christmas. Happy photo snapping (and screen tapping)!

How the 2020 Advent Photo Challenge works

• Each day has one word associated with it. Most of these words are from the readings for the day, some are about the saint of the day, and some are just related to the season of Advent. Snap a photo or find an old photo related to that word. The photo does not have to be faith-themed, as the goal of our photo challenges is for us to see God in our everyday lives and reflect on Him.

• Use the hashtag #CSAdvent and any other appropriate hashtags (#charity, #beloved, #joy, etc) when you post your Photo Challenge photos. This allows us all to search Instagram and other social media platforms for other participants. You can even follow the hashtag on Instagram so you’ll see all the photos posted from everyone participating. We will be sharing participant photos throughout the Photo Challenge, and the way we find them is through the #CSAdvent hashtag.

• While our main platforms for the 2020 Advent Photo Challenge are Instagram, and Facebook, we are present on many other platforms. Tag us with @CatholicSistas on INSTAGRAMPINTEREST and FACEBOOK. And if you’re blogging about your Lenten Photo Challenge, link back to us or comment below with a link to your post.

• When you use the hashtag #CSAdvent on Instagram, it will enable us to find you on Instagram and possibly feature you in our stories!

• Click the graphic below to download the 2020 CS Advent Graphic for quick reference. Note that the dates of the weekends are a different color to help visually break up the days.

• Lastly, consider joining us on Facebook in our group CATHOLIC SISTAS – THE COFFEE HOUSE. Here we can share pictures of the challenge and we get to know each other in a private setting. Please request to be added and answer the group questions, and you will be approved as soon a moderator is able to add you.



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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 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!

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Ink Slingers

2019 Advent Photo Journey

2019 Advent Photo Journey

Where as this year gone? We’re about to celebrate Thanksgiving and then just a few days later it’s the beginning of Advent, on December 1! 

One of the things we have been doing for six years now at Catholics Sistas for Advent and Lent are Photo Challenges. It’s a great way to journey through the liturgical season, examining our lives and sharing how the Holy Spirit visualizes God’s presence daily in our lives. Sometimes it’s easy to visualize God in our lives through the Photo a Day Challenge word and other times we’re pushed to consider how God makes that word present in our lives. But that’s part of what makes this Photo Journey together so fruitful. And why I love participating in them and seeing what other people share during the Photo Journey.

 

Join Us!

I invite you all to join my friends, Adrienne, Allison, Anna, Laura, Lynette, Mandi, and myself (Rita), in the 2019 Advent Photo Challenge. 

You don’t have to be part of the social media world to participate, though it is fun to be a part of at least one of our main platforms- Facebook or Instagram- to see other’s posts and read their reflections. Because while it’s fun to share your photos and reflections with others, if the Advent Photo Challenge provides you with an opportunity to reflect on the season of Advent and prepare for Christmas, that’s what counts.

To help you in your challenge, below you’ll find the whats, hows and hashtag info for joining the 2019 Advent Photo Challenge. I’m excited to get started on this photo challenge with y’all on Sunday and to see how the Holy Spirit moves us all to reflect on the season of Advent and share our Catholic faith. Happy clicking (or touching your cell phone screen)!

 

How the 2019 Advent Photo Challenge Works

• Each day has a word associated with it. Snap a photo or find an old photo related to that word. The photo does not have to be faith-themed, as the goal of our photo challenges is for us to see God in our everyday lives and reflect on Him.

• Use the hashtag #CSAdvent and any other appropriate hashtags (#purple, #tree, #light, etc) when you post your Photo Challenge photos. This allows us all to search Instagram and other social media platforms for other participants (CSAdvent = Catholic Sistas Advent). You can even follow the hashtag on Instagram so you’ll see all the photos posted from everyone participating. We will be sharing participant photos throughout the Photo Challenge, and the way we find them is through the #CSAdvent hashtag.

• While our main platforms for the 2019 Advent Photo Challenge are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, we are present on many other platforms. Tag us with @CatholicSistas on INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST and FACEBOOK, and @Catholic_Sistas on TWITTER. And if you’re blogging about your Advent Photo Challenge, link back to us or comment below with a link to your post.

• Download the 2019 CS Advent Graphic for quick reference. Note that the dates of the weekends are a different color to help visually break up the days.

• Be sure to share the graphic with others and invite them to join the challenge too!

• And considering join us on Facebook in our group CATHOLIC SISTAS – THE COFFEE HOUSE. Here we can share pictures of the challenge and we get to know each other in a private setting. Please request to be added and answer the group questions, and you will be approved as soon a moderator is able to add you.