I love having a Church calendar and all sorts of traditional practices and recommended prayers and readings for celebrating different seasons. There's an accumulated wisdom there about what works with the human spirit, what things will help dispose us toward God. I'd never live long enough to work out this stuff on my own.
Today being the first Sunday of Advent, the start of the new liturgical year and the beginning of a penitential season anticipating the Lord's coming, I got out Volume I of the breviary and turned to the Office of Readings. And there was Isaiah crying out, "Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good!" I felt a push inside me, the call to holiness trying to dislodge sloth. I've seen the Christmas decorations going up and I've been getting catalogs for months, but it was only this evening with the breviary that I woke up: It's Advent! He is coming! The Israelites had a thousand years of prophecy and we get four weeks to relive it. The prayer given to us at the end of the Office was, "All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good, that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming..." Amen, I thought. Amen.
People are doing a 54-day novena of Rosaries starting today and running until the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. I wanted to pass that idea along. And here's a prayer I love. I discovered it too late last year to do the traditional thing of praying it from St. Andrew's feast day (which is today, November 30) until Christmas Day. But I'll do it this year. I have a few intentions I want to pray for.
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, O my God!
to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and of His Blessed Mother.
Why does tradition say Jesus was born at midnight? I used to think whoever wrote "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" was just being lyrical when he declared that "He came a flow'ret bright, amid the cold of winter, when half-spent was the night." But it looks like the writer was inspired by Wisdom 18:
For while gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne,
into the midst of the doomed land