Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus! Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
While I was still in the seminary, it was Fr. William Fitzgerald, O.Praem. who first introduced me to this prayer, and I have found it a worthwhile Advent practice ever since. The Feast of St. Andrew is November 30, and so it has taken its name from him, on whose feast this novena prayer begins. If one recites it fifteen times per day, for a particular intention, we place our hope that God will hear our prayers. This is how the prayer goes:
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 the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, [here mention your request] through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
Advent is a season of expectation. Unlike Lent, which seeks to remind us of the suffering that Christ endured for our sake, Advent is a reminder to us that our God became one of us. It is a time to turn toward Him, figuratively and literally. Just as God has turned toward us.
In his book, Those Mysterious Priests, the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen states: “To understand what we have to do, ask a victim of Auschwitz, a prisoner in Siberia, how God should present Himself to them? Without a doubt they would answer: He would have to be a victim like ourselves.”
And that is what we have, a God who gave up everything for our sake. Starting with the moment of His Incarnation. Every time that we are in anguish, or angry, or sad, or happy, we can know that our God has experienced all of these. We can look to Him in those moments for an example on how we are to act. So often when we find ourselves in evil and difficult situations, we wonder where God is. It is there that God shows forth His might by being in the midst of the evil. Going right to where men need Him most in order to raise us up.
St. Athanasius states: “The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it.”
During this Advent Season, may we keep these thoughts in mind. May each of us turn toward the Lord and face Him. In our worship, in our prayer, in our daily lives. The Lord has come in order to bring salvation to mankind. He became man so that we could become like gods. May we seize this great gift offered to us by our God and never look back.