St. Andrew Christmas Anticipation Prayer
To be recited from November 30 until December 25, even 15 times daily:
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 piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayers and grant my desires,
[here mention your request),
through Our Saviour Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother.
On December 17th, the Church’s Advent liturgy begins to focus in a more particular way on the Nativity of the Lord. The prayers, readings, preface at Mass, as well as the readings, antiphons for the Gospel canticles, intercessions, and prayers at the Liturgy of the Hours concentrate more resolutely than during the preceding days of Advent on the coming feast of the Nativity of the Lord. Our attention is fixed on the messianic promises proclaimed by the ancient prophets of Israel.
The seven great “O Antiphons” have a role in these days. Each antiphon, always sung in a very similar melody, begins with ‘O’ and addresses Christ with a unique title from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah. Each is followed by a petition for God’s people relevant to the title by which He is addressed, and the cry for Jesus to COME to us (veni) and act on our behalf:
December 17: O Wisdom, O Holy Word of God, You govern all creation with Your strong yet tender care. Come and show Your people the way to salvation. (Isaiah 11:2-3; Wisdom 8:1; Proverbs 9:1)
December 18: O sacred Lord of Ancient Israel, who showed Yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out Your mighty hand to set us free. (Exodus 3;1-8; 20:1-20; Deuteronomy 26:5-9).
December 19: O Flower of Jesse’s Stem, You have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in Your presence; the nations bow down in worship before You. Come, let nothing keep You from coming to our aid. (Isaiah 11:1-4; 45:23; 52:13; Luke 1:32-33)
December 20: O Key of David, O Royal Power of Israel controlling at Your will the gate of heaven: come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead Your captive people into freedom. (Isaiah 22:22; 42:6-7; Luke 4:16-19)
December 21: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. (Malachi 3:20; Isaiah 9:1; Psalm 107:14)
December 22: O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature You fashioned from the dust. (Isaiah 28:16; Genesis 2:7; Matthew 21:42; 1 Peter 2:4-5)
December 23: O Emmanuel, King and Lawgiver, Desire of the Nations, Savior of all People, come and set us free, Lord our God. (Isaiah 7:14; Malachi 3:1; Matt 1;21-23).
· December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
· December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
· December 19: O Radix Iesse (O Root of Jesse)
· December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
· December 21: O Oriens (O Daystar) (after this date, days get longer)
· December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
· December 23: O Emmanuel (O God-with-Us)
When taken together from the last title to the first, the first letters of each title form a wonderful Latin acrostic. This is the Lord’s response to the Church’s ardent petition that He COME (veni):
Ero cras (I will be there tomorrow)!
Rejoice, Jesus is with us every day in the Eucharist!
The “O Antiphons” not only bring holy intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.
Some have used the O Antiphons as the basis of a rich Novena up to and including Christmas Day. Perhaps this “last lap” of Advent could also include daily Mass and/or daily Adoration.
O come, O come, Emmanuel!
The song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is simply a reworking of the O Antiphons. When you sing it, you are joining a vast throng of Christians stretching back across centuries and spanning the whole of the earth who prayed as all Christians do, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20)
“Our task is not to watch out, but to keep watch, not to be alarmed but to remain alert, not to be anxious but to pay attention so we don’t miss the presence of Christ with us, even amid difficulty.”
– Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick, Advent Reflection
“Dietitians and nutritionists have determined that the types of food we consume have a direct influence on our physical and mental well-being – truly, we are what we eat. St. Augustine said, ‘You are what you have received.’ What we consume in our diets makes a noticeable difference in how we feel about our environment and ourselves and it has a direct impact on what we are able to accomplish in our daily lives.
“If a change of diet makes a definitive difference in our well-being, how much more important to us and to our well-being is the reception of the Eucharist? When someone changes their diet, the effects are quite evident. The person becomes healthier and happier, more alert and more energetic. The Eucharist has the same effect on us – we live our faith with more energy and more vigour. We have been nourished; we can exercise more readily, what we believe.
“… we are invited to meditate upon the great mystery of the Eucharist. We are provided with a wonderful opportunity to focus on the liturgical axiom lex orandi, lex credendi – the law of prayer is the law of faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it in simpler terms, ‘the Church believes as she prays’ (1124).
“This means that if we believe, through the miracle of the Mass, that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, then our actions will reflect what we believe.
“The Blessed Sacrament should always be shown the greatest reverence and respect by our posture and actions at Mass. This is especially true when we receive Holy Communion. When we are able to gather again to receive Holy Communion, let us not forget WHOM we are receiving, and the prayer we offer. ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.'”
– Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick, Reflection on the Eucharist, May 16, 2020