Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Peace and Joy in Our Lord Jesus!
The Advent calendar or Adventhaus began in Scandanavia and Germany, especially in the regions of the Palatinate and Hesse. Its purpose is to help children become aware of the expectancy of Advent. Sometimes the Advent calendar is a picture of a house with 23 small windows and 1 large window that are opened to reveal the tiny religious symbols, icons and pictures behind them.
Another variation is to construct a Jacob's Ladder that leads step by step to the day of Christ's birth. Every morning or every evening before bedtime, the child opens a window, behind which appears a star, an angel, a manger or some other picture appropriate to the Advent season. (If there are several children in the family, the privilege of opening the windows rotates from one to another.) An appropriate bible verse can serve as a caption to the picture. On the 23rd, all twenty-three small windows are open; the big window remains closed until Christmas Eve, when it is opened to reveal the Holy Child in the manger. When all the windows are opened, stand the calendar in from of a lamp or window. The light will shine through the paper, giving the little house a Christmas glow.
The symbolism of the Jesse tree is based on the renowned prophecy of Isaiah: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of this root. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness." The rod was taken to represent the Virgin Mary and the flower to stand for Christ Himself. Some examples of ornaments to be hung on the Jesse Tree are the Dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit and of Wisdom; the Burning Bush, the symbol of God the Father who gave Moses and the Jews the law on Mount Sinai; the Root of Jesse, symbol of Christ's kingly ancestry; the Key of David and Scepter, symbolizing Christ's Kingship; the Tablets, symbol of the Old Law and the cornerstone of the New Law in Christ; and the Sun in the Manger, symbol of Christ our Savior. During each evening in Advent, a family member places a Jesse Tree ornament on the Tree and explains its significance to the rest of the family. The Jesse Tree itself can be a small three or four foot tree apart from the family's larger Christmas tree.
The use of the crib (French creche; Italian praesepio; German krippe) is often first ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi, who is 1223 celebrated the Feast of the Nativity in a new way that helped the Church establish a new devotional practice.... Another custom that evolved from the crèche is the Preparation of the Manger. The custom originated in France but spread to Germany and other European countries. It is the practice of having children prepare a soft bedding in the manger by using little strands of straw as tokens of prayers and good works. Every night the child is allowed to put in the crib one straw for each act of devotion or virtue performed throughout the day. Thus when the Christ Child comes on Christmas Eve he will find plenty of straw to keep him warm and to soften the hardness of the manger’s boards.
The present order may be used by a priest or a deacon, and also by a layperson, who follows the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister. When the community has gathered, a suitable song may be sung. After the singing, the minister says:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. All make the sign of the cross and reply: Amen. A lay minister greets those present in the following words: Praised be Jesus Christ, who dwells among us, now and for ever. All reply: Amen. In the following or similar words, the minister prepares those present for the blessing. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we pause to bless this Christmas manger scene. The practice of erecting such mangers was begun by Saint Francis of Assisi as a means to set forth the message of Christmas. When we look upon these figures, the Christmas gospel comes alive and we are moved to rejoice in the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God.
Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Luke In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes And laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.
As circumstances suggest, the following responsorial psalm may be sung, or some other suitable song.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. Psalm 89
"I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: Forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations."R.
Happy the people who know the joyful shout; in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk. At your name they rejoice all the day, and through your justice they are exalted.R.
"He shall say of me, 'You are my father, my God, the Rock, my savior.' R.
"Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him, and my covenant with him stands firm." R.
As circumstances suggest, the minister may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text, so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration.
The intercessions are then said. The minister introduces them and an assisting minister or one of those present announces the intentions. From the following those best suited to the occasion may be used or adapted, or other intentions that apply to the circumstances may be composed.
The minister says:
Let us ask for God's blessing on this Christmas manger and upon ourselves, that we who reflect on the birth of
Jesus may share in the salvation he accomplished.
All reply: Come, Lord, dwell with us.
For the Church of God, as we recall the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ, that we may always proclaim
his gift of new life for all people, we pray to the Lord. R.
For the world in which we live, that it may come to recognize Christ who was greeted by the angels and shepherds,
we pray to the Lord. R
For our families and our homes, that Christ who was laid in the manger may dwell with us always, we pray to the
For parents, that their love for their children may be modeled on that of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, we
pray to the Lord. R.
After the intercessions the minister, in the following or similar words, invites all present to sing or say the Lord's
Let us pray as our Lord Jesus Christ taught us:
Our Father ...
A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the
prayer with hands joined.
God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love: when our
need for a Savior was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. To our lives he brings joy and peace,
justice, mercy, and love.
Lord, bless all who look upon this manger; may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise up our
thoughts to him, who is God-with-us and Savior of all, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
A lay minister concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:
May Christ our God enlighten our hearts and minds, now and forever.
All reply:. Amen.
It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song.BACK TO LIST