Below is a printable file for the Advent prayers we say during Advent when lighting our wreath at dinner.
As you probably know our country is in turmoil and we are afraid of things that may be coming. There are many instances throughout history that evil has been subverted through the intercession of the blessed Virgin and her most holy Rosary. Please add the good of our country to your Rosary intentions. Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us! May God's will be done.
In the Sacred Hearts of our Lord and Lady,
The Willson Family
We should strive ever to emphasize the fact that Christmas is the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The greeting cards we send at the holy season should be a manifestation of our Catholic family, season, and a reminder to them that we are praying that they may know Christ more intimately and love Him more ardently. Your cards to non-Christian friends may be a means of causing them to make inquires in regard to the real meaning of Christmas.
Christmas derives its name, "Christ's mass," from the Mass offered in honor of the Birth of Christ. Its early English form was written as "Christes Maesse," and in the course of the change of the English language it eventually became Christmas. In the earliest days of the Church this feast did not exist. Greater stress was placed on the Feast of the Epiphany, because it commemorates the day on which our Saviour was made known to the Gentiles, when the Wise Men came to adore Him. The Feast of the Nativity came gradually into existence in the fourth century. Its first mention is made by the great Christian writer, Clement of Alexandria, about the year 200, and shows that it was celebrated on May 20. About the year 300, the Latin Church began to observe it on December 25, because an ancient tradition assigns that day as the probable date of the Birth of our Saviour.
Love of the Babe of Bethlehem, who was born to redeem us, caused Catholics, in centuries long gone by, to introduce into our churches a representation of the crib, the Divine babe, the Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and the shepherds. St. Francis of Assisi deserves the credit of making this practice popular. His zeal prompted him to place at Graccio a representation of the cave of Bethlehem. His plan permitted the Faithful vividly to grasp the story of Bethlehem and to realize the poverty and suffering of our Saviour in the bleak, cold stable where He was born. The plan has spread to churches in all parts of the world.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, it is customary to put the statues of the Wise Men beside the crib. In the early Church, this feast was celebrated with great solemnity because it was the day on which our Saviour was made known to those who were not of Israel. In the fourth century, the Feast of the Nativity came into its own and was given first importance, though in many Catholic countries the custom exists of giving all Christmas presents on the Feast of the Epiphany, since on that day the Wise Men brought gifts to our Saviour.
The Christmas tree is of recent origin. It represents for us the Tree of the Cross. Bethlehem and Calvary are ever associated together in our Christian thoughts, for Christ was born to die on the Tree of Ignominy and thus redeem a sinful world. The lights placed upon the Christmas tree have for us a symbolical meaning. They portray the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
Our modern Santa Claus, a crude, ridiculous figure, can be traced back to that gentle lover of children - St. Nicholas. This Saint's feast is celebrated on December 6, and parents and friends gave children presents on that day. The Dutch settlers in New York brought this custom with them to the New World, and the giving of presents on December 6 and on Christmas Day became somewhat confused. St. Nicholas was contracted into "Santa Claus" and, with the increasing pagan idea of the Yuletide, became the rollicking, bewhiskered figure so alien to the true Christmas spirit.
Let our children look to the Christ Child for their Christmas presents. There is no need of deception here, and of shattering childish faith. The Christ Child exists; He loves the little ones and He wishes them to love Him. We have no use in a Catholic home for the fraudulent Santa Claus and the pagan Christmas he now symbolizes. Let the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ be for young and old a day of spiritual joy and of close union with the Saviour whom we love.
Source: Could You Explain Catholic Practices, Imprimatur 1937
On this glorious day the Church opens to our view the gates of heaven, in order to show us the great number of her children who there enjoy the eternal reward of a good life.
There we see the prophets of God, who were faithful to His word; the Apostles who fearlessly preached the word of God all over the world; the holy martyrs who shed their blood and gave their lives for the truth; the confessors who not only in word but in deed practiced virtue; the beautiful virgins who preserved their purity. There we will see saints in every condition of life, from every calling: the young, the old, the rich, the poor, and so great is their number that they cannot be counted. They are clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands, and standing around the throne of God they sing celestial hymns. What a great happiness to celebrate this day in heaven! Will it not be a great joy for us one day to be in paradise, there with the angels and saints to sing the praises of God!
St. Francis heard an angel play on a harp, and he was so enchanted by it that he lost all knowledge of time and forgot where he was. On this earth there are continual trials, but in heaven with the angels and saints we have nothing more to suffer; we shall have the same riches as God, and be glad with His gladness.
"And thus we shall always be with the Lord." consoling thought! Shall we all who are on this earth be in heaven? will no one be excluded? Is it possible that any of my young friends will be excluded from heaven?
Perhaps not a few will meet with that fate; for those only shall possess the kingdom of God who have imitated the lives of the saints: those who have faithfully served God, who have lived a good life, who have not sullied their souls by great sins, or if they have committed any, have repented of them.
Those will go to heaven who have observed the law of God exactly and have done much good. Raise your eyes to heaven. My dear young people, and see those who are there and what they have done. The Apostles who consecrated themselves to the service of religion, and labored incessantly to spread the Gospel over all the world; the martyrs, who were real soldiers in resisting the tyrants in their attempts to make them give up the faith; repentant sinners, who punished their bodies for their sensuality; old men who were faithful to the end of a long life; young men and women who early in life opened their ears to the voice of God, and followed the teaching of Christ; boys and girls, who merited heaven for having pleased the Master of heaven and earth by their beautiful lives and deaths. My dear young friends, how ashamed we ought to be when we read of so many great examples of holy lives while we do so very little, and still expect to get to heaven! These saints avoided sins and even imperfections; and rather than do anything to offend God, they preferred to suffer the most horrible torments. On the occasion of sin, did you say, "I will not commit it?" When you were with a companion who used bad language, did you say to him, "Be silent," or go away from him?
The saints prayed day and night; they did not content themselves with such short prayers as we say. We do not love prayer, we omit it on any excuse. Some of the saints were sinners at one time, but by the grace of God they rose from their fall, and performed the most severe penances until the hour of their death. Once a great sinner went to confession to St. Vincent de Paul. After hearing him the saint gave him a penance for seven years. As the man was really penitent, this did not dismay him; he thought it rather a
small punishment for such grievous faults. "Father," said he, "do you think I can save my soul by doing so small a penance?" "Yes," said the saint. "Fast on bread and water three times a week for these years." The sinner wept bitterly, and thanked God he had obtained pardon so easily. Seeing the sincerity and depth of the man's sorrow the saint remitted the penance and told him to recite three Our Fathers and three Hail Marys. The penitent had scarcely finished his penance when he fell dead at the saint's feet. Afterwards he appeared to St. Vincent and told him that his penance had been accepted by God as sufficient, and that he even did not have to pass through purgatory, because God had taken his real sorrow as full atonement for his sins. We frequently have great difficulty in disclosing our sins; shame, not sorrow, often closes our mouths. The saints did not shrink from suffering as we do; with us the least trouble is a great trial we prefer, come what may, a pleasant life.
The saints looked upon this life as a pilgrimage to their fatherland; they yearned for heaven. Everything in this world disgusted them, while we are attached to the world and its vanities. "We have no longing for heaven, we would live here forever if it were possible. Heaven requires violence and exertion; cowards and lazy people will not get there; if you continue to live in this manner, you will never be saints in heaven. St. Augustine says if you do not do all in your power to imitate the lives of the saints you shall not have a share in their happiness. On this day, then, let us make a firm resolution to imitate the saints, to detest sin, to practice virtue and to do all the good we can. Pray to the saints, and especially to your patrons, that they may intercede for you before Our Lord until you shall have arrived safely in heaven.
Pray also to the Queen of all saints, the most holy Mary, that she, too, may interest herself in your spiritual welfare that you may begin now to work out your salvation and persevere in this work until the end.
"Queen of all saints, pray for us."
Sermons for Children's Masses, Imprimatur 1900
Holy Mother Church dedicates the month of
February to the Holy Family
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