Catholic Family Prayer BookThe Church’s liturgical year begins with the season of Advent. It begins on the Sunday closest to November 30 and ends with the Christmas Vigil Mass. In Advent, a time of joyful expectation, we focus on and prepare for the remembrance of Jesus’ first coming in Bethlehem and His Second Coming at the end of time.

Prayer to Obtain Favors

Prayer from 1897 that may be prayed numerous times a day from the Feast of St. Andrew on November 30 until Christmas.

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 Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother.
Amen.

Prayer to St. Nicholas

God, our Father,
we pray that through the intercession of St. Nicholas
you will protect our children.
Keep them safe from harm
and help them grow and become worthy in your sight.
Give them strength to keep their faith in you;
and to keep alive their joy in your creation.
Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
Amen.

(The feast day of St. Nicholas is December 6.)

Advent Prayer

By Henri J.M. Nouwen

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Amen.

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego near Mexico City in 1531 and left her image on his cloak. She is Patron of the Americas. Feast Day: December 12.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical Rose, make intercession for our Holy Church, protect the Pope, help all those who invoke you in their necessities, and since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most Holy Son, the grace of keeping our faith, sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance.
Amen.

Prayer to St. Lucy

Relying on Your goodness, O God, we humbly ask you, by the intercession of your servant, Saint Lucy, to give perfect vision to our eyes, that we may serve for your greater honor and glory. And we pray for the salvation of our souls in this world, that we may come to the enjoyment of the unfailing light of the Lamb of God in heaven.

St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, hear our prayers and answer our petitions. Amen.

O Antiphons

Prayed each day at the Magnificat of Evening Prayer from December 17 to December 24. Authors unknown, these prayers are from the ninth century or older. Visit our O Antiphons page for more.

December 17:
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God,
you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care.
Come and show your people the way to salvation.

December 18:
O sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

December 19:
O Flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

December 20:
O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.

December 21:
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light,
sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

December 22:
O King of all the nations,
the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of humankind,
Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

December 23:
O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of all the nations,
Savior of all people,
Come and set us free, Lord our God.

Christmas

At Christmas, December 25, we celebrate the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary. The Christmas Season begins with the Vigil Mass of Christmas and ends with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord.

Blessing of a Christmas Crèche or a Manger Scene

All make the Sign of the Cross.

The leader begins:
Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All respond:
Who made heaven and earth.

The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the blessing:
We are at the beginning of the days of Christmas. All through the season we will look on these images of sheep and cattle, of shepherds, of Mary and Joseph and Jesus.

Then the Scripture is read:
Listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Luke:
Read Luke 2:1-7.

The reader concludes:
The gospel of the Lord.

All respond:
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The figures may be placed in the crèche. After a time of silence, all join in prayers of intercession and in the Lord’s Prayer. Then the leader invites:
Pray now for God’s blessing as we look on these figures.

After a short silence, the leader prays:
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 our thoughts to him.
who is God-with-us and Savior of all,
and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

Or:
God of Mary and Joseph, of shepherds and animals,
bless us whenever we gaze on this manger scene.
Through all the days of Christmas
may these figures tell the story
of how humans, angels, and animals
found the Christ in this poor place.
Fill our house with hospitality, joy, gentleness, and thanksgiving.
and guide our steps in the way of peace.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

The leader says:
Let us bless the Lord.

All respond, making the Sign of the Cross.
Thanks be to God.

Christmas songs and carols are then sung.
(A prominently placed manger scene during Christmas teaches the true meaning of the holiday: the coming of Christ as man to free us from the power of death. The above blessing is done  on Christmas or Christmas Eve when most families add the Baby Jesus to the crèche.)

Christmas Prayer

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem star may lead me
To the sight of Him who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and always,
Now begin, on Christmas day.
Christmas Novena
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires
(mention your request here).
Through Jesus Christ and His most blessed Mother.

Prayer for Christmas

(Attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

Let your goodness, Lord, appear to us, that we, made in your image, may conform ourselves to it. In our own strength we cannot image your majesty, power and wonder; nor is it fitting for us to try. But your mercy reaches from the heavens, through the clouds, to the earth below. You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of your eternal love. Caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries.

Excerpted from A Catholic Family Prayer Book, Copyright  © 2001 Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. All rights reserved. Order here