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First Sunday of Advent
Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS
(From the book "Could You Explain Catholic Practices?"
by Rev. Charles J. Mullaly, S.J. - 1937)
Advent is a season of penance, and of preparation by the Faithful
for the spiritual joy of Christmas. It is a time when the Church
admonishes us to lift our hearts to God and to trust in Him who is to
free us from our sins. As Advent is a season of penance, the color of
the vestments used at its seasonal Masses is violet and the altar is
not decorated with flowers, except on the third Sunday which is
called Gaudete, or "Rejoice Sunday," because the Introit of the Mass
of that day reminds us of the near approach of our Lord's birth:
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Let your modesty be
known to all men. The Lord is nigh." During this season of penance, as
in Lent, the solemn celebration of marriage, that is, with Nuptial
Mass, etc., is forbidden.
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
Faith, an aid to our friends to enter into the spirit of the holy
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
inquiries 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 Savior.
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 very 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 co
custom exists of giving all Christmas presents on the Feast of
Epiphany, since on that day the Wise Men brought gifts to our
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Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
Our modern Santa Claus, a crude, ridiculous figure,
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.
PRAYER TO THE INFANT JESUS
Come to me, O Divine Savior, vouchsafe to be born in my heart.
Grant that, taught by Thine example, and assisted by Thy grace, I may be poor in spirit and humble of heart. Keep me chaste and obedient.
I wish to live but for Thee. O Mary, my Advocate and Mother, obtain
by thy prayers forgiveness of my past offences and holy perseverance
unto death. St. Joseph, do thou also pray for me, that I may become
daily more pleasing to Jesus. Amen.
Prayer to Obtain Favors
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. Amen
(To be recited fifteen times a day from the Feast
of St. Andrew (Nov. 30) until Christmas)
Sincerely in Christ,
Our Lady of the Rosary Library
"Pray and work for souls"