Advent 2013 Resources

This is an update for Advent 2013 re-post of all the Advent Resources on my site or written by me:

Advent begins later this year, December 1, so it’s a shorter Advent this year. I have updated the files for Advent 2013, such as the Advent Cards and calendar.

I have a lot of preparation to do before my heart surgery, so I didn’t have time to update my Advent Alphabet as I had hoped, but my friend Lindsay created some Alphabet Cards that could be printed double-sided so her child could do the work on his own. She combined some letters so that every year it could begin on December 1st, like most Advent calendars do. See below under “Reading” for her file. I was hoping to update the list and make something more printable and easier to follow, but maybe next year when I will have a first-grader and I should have more energy!

All my posts on Advent can be found if you choose the category “Advent” in the sidebar. Also in the top menu there is “Living the Liturgical Year”, and the sub-page is Advent and Christmas which contains many printable pages I have on this website.

This looks daunting: but don’t be overwhelmed! This is a collection of our family’s traditions over the years. Just be aware of two things: 1) our traditions have developed over time, and more have been added over the years and 2) no year ever looks the same, and not everything is celebrated the same way. Sometimes feasts are not celebrated at all!

For the Christmas season and all related posts, see Christmas is Not Just One Day, But a Season: Resources Page. The Christmas page is less full, so all recipe and cookbook related links will be on that page.

Continue reading

Preparing for Advent

The First Sunday of Advent is only 3 weeks away! The internet is abuzz with all things preparing for this first season of the Liturgical Year.

I’m working on a new writing project which I’ll share in a couple of weeks. I’m really excited! I am also hoping to update some of my Advent and Christmas plans for my younger son, but as time allows. I’m already behind!

st andrew chaplet

A few of my friends are sharing their lovely St. Andrew chaplets that they have created. I don’t like to play favorites, but I have another friend, Betsy, who doesn’t have a blog, and I wanted to give a shout-out for her beautiful creations in her etsy shop, Immaculata Designs. All her creations are beautiful works of art, made of fine quality materials and craftsmanship. She has two St. Andrew Chaplets for sale that are just perfect for gift giving. Did you notice the St. Andrew medal? She hand designed and created that from scratch! I’m always so impressed at her talent and eye for beauty!

I have to add that there is something special in knowing the person who creates religious articles. I know that my friends pray for the recipient while they are crafting, and I in turn pray and think of my friends as I hold and use their beautiful handcrafted articles. It is a blessing, and it’s a little miniature of the Communion of Saints in action.

chaplet cardBetsy also sells laminated prayer cards of the St. Andrew novena to use for family prayer. These are pretty, durable and practical to have for the family members to pray along.

jesseThinking of doing the Jesse Tree this Advent with your family but don’t have time to make your own ornaments? I have the ornaments from Jesse Tree Treasures, and they are wonderful! The images of the symbols are so attractive and just draw in my boys. They are easy to assemble and hang, making it an easy custom to include our in daily Advent prayers.. Included is a booklet with illustrations and prayers for every ornament. I also love the “O Antiphons” ornaments for the last week of Advent — that is definitely on my wishlist!

Come Lord JesusAnd in thinking about Advent reading, I think I will reread my favorite Advent book ever, Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting by Mother Mary Francis. It’s been a couple of years since I first read it and I’m looking forward to rereading.

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. I also received a chaplet and Jesse Tree ornaments as gifts. I am reviewing them because I really like them; I was not asked to endorse these products.

Advent and Divine Office — Sale!~

Today is the last O Antiphon day, O Emmanuel. A kind reader pointed out that I had switched the verses for O King and O Dayspring, so I did update the file for the O Antiphons Prayer Companion, also at O Night Divine.

It’s only two days before Christmas. There is still a few things to tie up before bedtime on Christmas Eve, but I am grateful for the interior peace. This has been an upside down Advent. Christmas Picture books were only read at a minimum (less than 12!). We did finish several wonderful chapter books, The Christmas Anna Angel by Ruth Sawyer, illustrated by Kate Seredy, A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy and the Advent section in An Introduction to the Liturgical Year by Inos Biffi.

We were also able to attend extra daily noon masses during the week. It wasn’t everyday, but at least 3 days extra a week. That was wonderful for both me and my boys. The Liturgy is so rich, and to enter the Liturgical Year through the daily readings and prayers is so wonderful, infused with the graces of receiving Jesus. My boys could see the pieces of the puzzle coming together. Our seemingly random Advent traditions of preparing the manger, Advent wreath, Advent calendar, O Antiphons all fit together and the pattern is revealed when the Advent Liturgy is followed.

The other area that we’re gradually adding for the boys, but I try to personally in my daily prayer is the Divine Office, or Liturgy of the Hours. I particularly enjoy using my iPhone and listening to the podcasts from Even listening just a little during the week, the pattern of feasts and feria of the Liturgical year are revealed.

And until December 26, the Divine Office App is on sale, 25% off, $14.99! This app is so worth it if you want all the prayers and the audio in one place, but I’ve been hoping it would go on sale because it was rather steep! And now it is — take the opportunity!

Thank you for all the support and prayers this past year! May you and yours have a blessed Christmas and New Year.

The Last Battle

We are listening to The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, read by Patrick Stewart.

We have slowly gone through the whole series of Narnia on audio in our car. It has been a delightful journey, and we’ve enjoyed all the British readers for the series. I’m hesitant to buy audio cds, but this has been an excellent investment. The boys are eager to listen all over again.

I can’t stop thinking about how wonderful it is to be listening to The Last Battle during Advent. The Church’s focus in Advent is remembering the historical coming of Christ, and preparing our hearts for His second coming (and His daily coming in Grace and in the Eucharist).

And here we are listening to “End Times” of Narnia. I am so struck by the descriptions of the Anti-Aslan. And so much of the book echoes the Gospel readings we have been hearing in the last weeks of Ordinary Time and the beginning of the Liturgical Year.

Last Thursday we heard from Luke 21:20-28, and Sunday we heard from Luke 21:25-28; 34-36. These excerpts in particular:

Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days,
for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth
and a wrathful judgment upon this people.
They will fall by the edge of the sword
and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles;
and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,

for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Those verses roll in my head as I hear these words from The Last Battle:

Suddenly the King leaned heard on his friend’s [unicorn] neck and bowed his head.
“Jewel,” he said, “What lies before us? Horrible thoughts arise in my heart. If we had died before to-day we should have been happy.”
“Yes,” said Jewel. “We have lived too long. The worst thing in the world has come upon us.”

And later the small wood animals that help comfort their King Tirian of Narnia:

“Ah, that’s bad isn’t it?” said the second Mouse. “It would have been better if we’d died before all this began.”

But all is not gloom, because we are comforted and given strength to endure, just like Tirian:

And still there was no change in the night or the wood, but there began to be a kind of change inside Tirian. Without knowing why, he began to feel a faint hope. And he felt somehow stronger.

So, I’m dwelling on Sunday’s Gospel, particularly the part of

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.

If my to-do list is very long and I let it bother me, then I’m letting these anxieties overtake me. So I’m plodding carefully, gradually taking on Advent preparations, with the time that I can, but not letting it worry.

I want to “Prepare the Way of the Lord” and it starts within.

The book is all so beautiful and rich, words just fail me! It makes me eager to get back in the car to keep on listening and contemplating!

St. Andrew’s Day — Christmas Anticipation Prayer Begins!

All the blogs I follow are mentioning their favorite Christmas novena, which begins today, November 30, Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, and ends on Christmas. Sometimes it is referred to as the “St. Andrew Novena” or “St. Andrew Chaplet” but it’s really a Christmas Anticipation Prayer that many people pray 15 times a day every day until Christmas.

My friend Maryan remembers where she first learned of the prayer, and it was the same for me. The influence of Seton School continues long after you leave those hallowed walls!

Michele shared a printout of the prayer so you can post it all over the house.

Years ago many friend bloggers put the novena prayer on their sidebars, as a reminder for visitors to pray it through the day. I’ve decided to renew that practice, and put it in my sidebar.

I was so inspired by my lovely St. Andrew Chaplet made by Betsy of Immaculata Designs, that I decided it might be a good thing for my boys to have something similar, so they could keep track of 15 for their novena prayer. Perhaps they won’t use it, but it was enjoyable to make this together.


I followed the basic instructions for the St. Therese Sacrifice Beads. I wanted them to be able to slide the bead and it keeps the place, in case they are interrupted. I used old Cebelia DMC 5 cotton thread (which size is discontinued), purple pony beads, and various medals and crucifixes I have around the house (mostly broken from old rosaries).

IMG_1537So while my Advent plans aren’t done, we had a little crafty morning on time with the Liturgical Season! Happy feast of St. Andrew!

St. Andrew Chaplet and other religious Christmas Gifts

In my Catching Up post, I mentioned my workshop at Living Advent. It was such a wonderful day, especially in getting to catch up with old friends and meeting online friends in real life!

My friend Ruth was selling her beautiful handmade items, including her aforementioned rosaries.

And another friend, Betsy, was also a vendor for Living Advent, sharing her beautiful Immaculata Designs. I was so excited to meet Betsy in real life! We have been corresponding for years, and it’s always so wonderful to put a name to a face. And how gratifying to see how real and sincere and even better she is in reality than just cyber friendship. I made sure we would be friends for life–I realized in horror my blouse was covered with lint and I was in desperate need to clean it before my talk! Fortunately she came to my rescue with her masking tape and I was in decent shape. I’m so grateful!

Betsy makes heirloom wire-wrapped rosaries, chaplets, tenners, and jewelry. I wish I had taken pictures, because her display itself took my breath away. It was well-organized, such beautiful feminine touches without being flowery or overdone, plus her designs are just beautiful all alone. She only uses fine quality materials, and her work is fine quality, too. With all the variety of colors and beads and various designs, I just wanted to finger all the items, since there was beautiful Swarovski crystals and other fine beads. The medals and crucifixes are also so elegant and beautiful.

All her work is guaranteed and is quality craftmanship. There will be no stretching of the rosary resulting in breakage. Her website has this great image that explains all — just this weekend my younger son broke apart a traditional wire rosary. It’s so many pieces I can’t begin to fix it! We’re rough on rosaries, so I like to spend a little more on a rosary that will last forever. Continue reading

Prepare the Way of the Lord: Advent Resources

Updated for Advent 2013.

Advent begins later this year, December 2, so it’s a shorter Advent. I’m excited because there will be one week between Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent — it’s always helpful to have that time to prepare. I’m currently updating some of my plans and files for 2012 (Liturgical Year 2012-13). I haven’t quite finished all my updates, especially for my reading plans, but keep returning to this post for the links and updates:

All my posts on Advent can be found if you choose the category “Advent” in the sidebar. Also in the top menu there is “Living the Liturgical Year”, and the subpage is Advent and Christmas which contains many printable pages I have on this website.

This looks daunting: but don’t be overwhelmed! This is a collection of our family’s traditions over the years. Just be aware of two things: 1) our traditions have developed over time, and more have been added over the years and 2) no year ever looks the same, and not everything is celebrated the same way. Sometimes feasts are not celebrated at all!

For the Christmas season and all related posts, see Christmas is Not Just One Day, But a Season: Resources Page. The Christmas page is less full, so all recipe and cookbook related links will be on that page.

Continue reading

Living Advent — Last Week for Discounted Registration!

This is for my local readers near Northern Virginia.

I had posted earlier about Living Advent, is an all-day conference on Saturday, November 3rd at St. Veronica in Chantilly.

Through September 30, the early discounted registration fee is $25, then the cost will increase to $35! So don’t delay if you were thinking of attending!

I hope to see you there!

Rejoice in the Lord Always — Gaudete Sunday

Rejoice in the Lord Always — Gaudete Sunday

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near. (Phil 4:4,5)

From the Introit of the Third Sunday of Advent:

This Sunday marks the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday from the first word “Rejoice” used in the Introit or entrance antiphon of Sunday’s Liturgy. “Rejoice” is also repeated throughout the readings and prayers. The vestments worn by the priest can be the color rose (or pink), as is the third candle of the Advent wreath, reminding us that Christmas is near; we are close to the end of Advent, and we can hardly contain our joy. Rev. Edward Sutfin in his True Christmas Spirit shares a beautiful description of this day:

This Sunday introduces us into the second half of the season of Advent, and at the opening of Matins our anxiety and joy are given impetus: “The Lord is already near. Come, let us adore Him!” (Invitatory) The entire week is one of the richest of the entire year of grace, for during this week fall the magnificent Ember Days and the beginning of the “O antiphons.”

All of us are children this Sunday, for we are unable to restrain our impatience at the coming of the Saviour. Our joy urges us to celebrate in the great basilica of St. Peter, so that all mankind may share it with us. The penitential violet of Advent is changed to rose, and at the Gospel even the Precursor announces to the city that “He is in our midst.” Christ the Lord is even today present through grace, as He will be with us forever in glory.

December 16 marks Day One of the Christmas Novena.

December 17 is the first of the Great O Antiphons.

Wednesday, December 17 is also the first of the Winter Ember Days.

For our family, Sunday we will be “Decking the Halls” as we will be decorating our tree and house. My ideal is to wait until the 3rd Sunday of Advent, especially if Advent is longer, which it is this year.

Since we are in decorating mode, I always like to think of a handmade ornament or garland to hang on the tree. I found a perfect book this year at a library booksale. Christmas Crafts: Things to Make the 24 Days Before Christmas by Carolyn Meyer, illustrated by Anita Lobel, Harper and Row, 1974. It’s from a secular viewpoint written for children, ages 9-12, but so many of the crafts correspond to our Liturgical Calendar, for example, Advent Calendar and Advent Wreath December 1 and 2, St. Nicholas’ Day Stocking for December 6, God’s Eyes for December 9 (Juan Diego), St. Lucia Buns for December 13. Although written for children, this could easily be a family book. There is a wide range of crafts for all skill levels (including kitchen ideas). Check your libraries first (my local one carries it).

Overall view The craft I’m enjoying this week is “Crocheting a Star Chain” for December 20. The project is based on several versions of the Christmas Legend of the Spider, including this tale:

In one version, a poor woman, the kindhearted mother of many children, was unhappy because she had nothing with which to trim a Christmas tree for her family. But during the night, the household spiders went from branch to branch of the bare tree, spinning their delicate webs. As a reward for the woman’s faith and goodness, the Christ Child caused the webs to turn to pure silver.

Ms. Meyer includes simple “how to crochet” instructions and then this delightful pattern. Use medium to heavy weight yarn, preferably white. You’ll need a medium size crochet hook, size G or 6 for the worsted, and larger for heavier yarn. (I used leftover white cotton/rayon Touché by Berroco).

Make a loop for the hook. Chain 6 loops and form a ring with a slip stitch. Make 2 single crochets in the ring. Chain 5 loops. Repeat the “2 single crochets–chain 5 loops” steps four more times. This makes 5 parts of the star around the center ring. Join the last chain loop to the first single crochet with a slip stitch.

Then make a chain 7 inches long. Count back 6 loops from the hook and push the hook through the loop. Form a ring. Work another 5 part star around the ring.

Continue making chains and stars until the chain is at least several feet long. Drape it on the branches of your tree. The spiders will be envious. But your friends needn’t be–you can give them some as presents.

(To make a single star, without the chain, cut the yarn when you’ve finished the star, leaving a 6-inch tail, and draw it through the slip stitch. Make a loop with the tail for hanging the star on the tree.)

Closer view This makes a lovely garland. Once you foray into white crochet, try going into thread crochet. I started crocheting doilies and Christmas snowflakes in thread crochet at the old age of 12. Thread crochet creates beautiful items every spider would envy.

May your family share the joy that Christ is near. O Come, Emmanuel, Do Not Delay!

The Great “O” Antiphons

Originally published at O Night Divine

O_antiphons Tomorrow, December 17, the Church begins the seven Great “O” Antiphons of the liturgy, that date back to the seventh or eighth century. These antiphons are chanted or recited at Vespers, or Evening Prayer, the Antiphon before the Magnificat. They are also the Alleluia verse at the Mass. Each antiphon begins with “O” and include a different Scriptural image through the Old Testament, all imploring the Messiah to come. As Elsa Chaney in Twelve Days of Christmasstates, “They seem to sum up all our Advent longing as they paint in vivid terms the wretched condition of mankind and his need of a Savior.”

From Dom Gueranger’s Liturgical Year:

December 17
The Commencement of the Great Antiphons

The Church enters to-day on the seven days which precede the Vigil of Christmas, and which are known in the liturgy under the name of the Greater Ferias. The ordinary of the Advent Office becomes more solemn; the antiphons of the psalms, both for Lauds and the Hours of the day, are proper, and allude expressly to the great coming. Every day, at Vespers, is sung a solemn antiphon, consisting of fervent prayer to the Messias, whom it addresses by one of the titles given Him in the sacred Scriptures.

In the Roman Church, there are seven of these antiphons, one for each of the greater ferias. They are commonly called the O’s of Advent, because they all begin with that interjection. In other Churches, during the middle ages, two more were added to the these seven; one to our blessed Lady, O Virgo virginum; and the other to the angel Gabriel, O Gabriel; or to St. Thomas the apostle, whose feast comes during the greater ferias; it began O Thoma Didyme. There were even Churches where twelve great antiphons were sung; that is, besides the nine we have just mentioned, O Rex Pacifice to our Lord, O mundi Domina to our Lady, and O Hierusalem to the city of the people of God.

The canonical Hour of Vespers has been selected as the most appropriate time for this solemn supplication to our Saviour, because, as the Church sings in one of her hymns, it was in the evening of the world (vergente mundi vespere) that the Messias came amongst us. These antiphons are sung at the Magnificat, to show us that the Saviour whom we expect is to come to us by Mary. They are sung twice, once before and once after the canticle, as on double feasts, and this to show their great solemnity. In some Churches it was formerly the practice to sing them thrice; that is, before the canticle, before the Gloria Patri, and after the Sicut erat.

Lastly, these admirable antiphons, which contain the whole pith of the Advent liturgy, are accompanied by a chant replete with melodious gravity, and by ceremonies of great expressiveness, though, in these latter, there is no uniform practice followed. Let us enter into the spirit of the Church; let us reflect on the great day which is coming; that thus we may take our share in these the last and most earnest solicitations of the Church imploring her Spouse to come, to which He at length yields.

As mentioned by Gueranger, there have been more than seven antiphons over the years until the number seven was established in the Roman rite. There are still some orders or rites that have an extra Marian antiphon, the antiphon O Virgin of Virgins.

Further Information on the O Antiphons:

Chants of each antiphon at Musica Sacra

Many families begin the 9 day Christmas Novena on December 16, and include the O Antiphons as a part of the Novena. Here are two examples:

This is my favorite part of Advent. It all started when we read the section in Cooking for Christ by Florence Berger called O Antiphon Days and implemented the practice in our family. My mother helped the little ones, but even my dad got involved, and each person supplied a special treat after dinner for celebration of the Great Os. Then at prayer time we opened up the new window of our Advent Tower and sang the corresponding verse to O Come O Come Emmanuel. It was very simple, but it made a lasting impression. I never tire hearing or singing this Advent hymn, as it just conjures all the Old Testament longing with a haunting melody.

I was thrilled to find more about the Benedictine monastic celebrations of these days from my summer reading Medieval English Gardens, by Teresa McLean, The Viking Press, 1980. I’d love to get the actual quotes from the primary sources someday, but even these tidbits are very interesting:

Somewhere in every obedientary account is the entry: ‘To the gardener, for his O — 26s.8d’, or whatever the standard contribution was in that house. Sometimes the entry refers to the gardener’s ‘O et Olla’, sometimes just his ‘Olla’. Whatever the form of the ‘O’ it signified the gardener’s special day, and there were six other obedientiaries who also had ‘O’ days. The origin of the ‘O’s is a mosaic of excerpts from the Prophetic and Sapential books of the Old Testament, all beginning with the invocation ‘O’. Each of the seven ‘O’ antiphons was awarded to the obedientary whose job mostly closely corresponded to its opening words. For instance, the one beginning ‘O Clavis David’ (O Key of David) belonged to the cellarer because he had charge of all the keys in the house. The ‘O’s were sung at Vespers on successive nights from December 16-23, making a festive preparation for Christmas, and on the day of his ‘O’ the obedientary led the singing of it in the choir, had a day off work and had a feast laid on him by the other obedientiaries.

The ‘O’s were big occasions, and the third of them ‘O Radix Jesse’ (O Tree of Jesse), belonged to the gardener, which made him a more important obedientary than his small budget, indeed his nonexistence in some houses, would imply.

In continental monasteries other ‘O’ antiphons were added to the Advent seven, until as many as eighteen were sung in some houses. But English monasteries kept to seven ‘O’s and kept their celebratory pittances comparatively restrained, if only so that digressions lasted through the week. At Durham on the day of the prior’s ‘O’, ‘O Sapienta’, the Master of the Common House provided ‘a solemn banquet of figs and raisins, ale and cakes, and thereof no superfluity or excess, but a scholastical and moderate congratulations amongst themselves’. Obedientary status entailed more than enough work and responsibility to merit some ale and cakes and moderate congratulation once a year.

These antiphons are also put to a beautiful chant. Musica Sacra has a recording of the Gregorian Chant of the , O Antiphons by Scott Turkington, including the Magnificat. It’s just breathtakingly gorgeous.

It is interesting to note that when one puts first letters of each Latin antiphon, starting from the last to the first, it spells ERO CRAS, which in Latin means “Tomorrow I will come.”

Dominican House of Studies has the Dominican version of the chants online.

Cds Available:

Meditating and Reading

Because these are ancient chants, there is so much available to meditate on these jewels of our liturgy. I have a few books that are out-of-print, but you might already have them on your bookshelf, or find a used copy to buy or borrow. These are spiritual classics, with meditations on the Liturgical Year. Only McGarry’s volume is specific to Advent.

  • The Liturgical Year, Advent, by Dom Gueranger, O.S.B.
  • Vine and Branches, Volume One, Vine, by The Very Rev. Martin Hellriegel, Pio Decimo Press, 1948
  • He Cometh by William J. McGarry, S.J., The America Press, 1941
  • The Church’s Year of Grace, Volume 1, by Pius Parsch

Craft and Display Ideas

It’s so good to have tangible objects for our Domestic Church. I mentioned my family used a cardboard Advent Tower that came in a kit, but sadly it’s not in print. There is an O Antiphon House which is a flat cardboard suggestion. Another mom said she took small cardboard circles used for cakes (with gold on one side), decorated an antiphon on each, and attached to a long ribbon, turning the circle around for the current day. She’s also done embroidered antiphons.

Alice had this wonderful idea for Advent Cubes, including O Antiphons.

May your family enjoy these final days to Christmas. May you unite your longings for the Saviour with all the pleading of the Antiphons, and pray together with the Church “O Come, Emmanuel.”

See also my post that contains O Antiphons Prayer Companion for Display and Michele Quigley’s O Antiphon Coloring Pages and her Jesse Tree Ornaments, which include the O Antiphons.