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 the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, [here mention your request] through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
Sunday was the first day of the Season of Advent. My daughter went into my closet and got out the cranberry red, flat glass dish that serves as my Advent wreath these days. I also have three dark red candles in glass that represent the three purple candles of the Advent wreath and one white candle in glass the represents both the rose or pink candle for the last week of Advent and the White candle that is supposed only to be lit starting Christmas Eve, representing the pure Christ Child.
I would prefer my old Advent Wreath that needed to be decorated every year and held the correct colored candles, but as life has gone on, I've learned that things are not always perfect and you make do with what you have. After all, it's more important to actually observe Advent than to worry too much about wreaths and colored candles, within reason of course.
Today is the feast of St. Andrew and today we begin the Novena of Christmas Anticipation. The prayer begins "Hail and blest be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem in the piercing cold." And there in lies the crux of the meaning of all these day of Advent and the day that crowns it all, Christmas, the day that Jesus, the Christ, the anointed, was born.
This season is about preparing our souls, our inner being, for the most magnificent moment in human history - the moment when the Almighty God deigned to join His creation in it's human form. The moment when God chose to join humans in feeling the comfort of a mother's embrace, the joys of friendship, the camaraderie of being part of a family but also in feeling the bite of hunger and cold, tiredness and the stabbing pain of betrayal. Can we ever fully comprehend, completely?
Just like any human endeavor, you have to put in the time and effort to get the reward. Christmas is no different. If you don't avail yourself of the time of preparation that Advent gives us, Christmas will be no more to you than one joyful day of hopefully being with family and friends and giving or receiving presents. It will be a time of Jolly Fat Men dressed in red ringing a bell, snowmen when there isn't even snow on the ground, lights on houses and carols, old and new that are awful, trite and so overplayed that I guess most people don't even here the words that are being sung by sometime in December, considering that the carols get played on radio stations earlier and earlier each year. This year, I started hearing them just after Halloween was over.
Which is a shame, because without Advent, the world stops celebrating Christmas shortly after the 25th of December, which is when the Christmas Season actually does begin. And what a wonderful season it is!
Retailers assume that the Christmas Season starts at the beginning of November and so the real Christmas season doesn't have commercial constantly trying to get you to buy, buy, buy! The Advent Wreath has all it candles lit, and it burns cheerily. Family is no longer bound to the secular "Christmas Season", so getting days off to spend with family is easier and less stressful. Singing songs to the "New Born King" makes more sense after Christmas Day than for 32 days before He is even born.
You must have heard the song by now, "We need a little Christmas! Right this very minute!" but I disagree. We need a LOT of Advent, for the next 25 days.