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Catholic Prayer: Advent Prayers

Description:

Family prayers are the best way to strengthen the "church in miniature." Choosing prayers that are directed towards the liturgical season, such as these Advent prayers, can help the family members have a richer spiritual appreciation for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

Prayer:

In order to correspond more closely to the mind of Holy Mother Church during this important season, our night prayers consist of the Mass Collect for the day, a psalm or reading from the Advent prophets, and an Advent hymn. Children particularly love psalms, once they have learned that they are the prayers our Lord Himself said when He was a boy on earth. One of the children's favorites is:

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
O guide of the flock of Joseph!
Rouse your power, and come to save us.
O Lord of hosts, restore us,
if your face shine upon us, then we shall be safe.
O Lord of hosts, how long will you burn with anger
while your people pray?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in ample measure.
You have left us to be fought over by our neighbors,
and our enemies mock us.
O Lord of hosts, restore us,
if your face shine upon us, then we shall be safe.

Another prayer children enjoy is a prophecy from Isaias. It refers to Christ as the Root of Jesse, the thirsty plant, in whose honor we use evergreens during Advent and Christmas. It also gives the genealogy of the Saviour:

A Root shall come forth from the stock of Jesse
And a Flower shall rise out of his 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 people that walked in darkness
shall see a great light,
For a Child is born to us
and a Son is given to us.
To Him all power shall be given.
His Name shall be: Wonderful One,
Strong God, Eternal One, Prince of Peace.
He shall sit on the throne of David,
And He will found a new Covenant
which will last for ever and ever.

Isaias also gives us two Advent prayers which are appropriate before grace at meals for this season. Mornings and at noon we use the versicle of Lauds "which is as it were a spur making us conscious of the particular mystery of the season." Before grace the mother prays:

Mother: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.

All answer: Make straight His paths.

This is also the particular prayer we use in preparing each child for our Lord's coming in First Holy Communion. It is therefore especially dear to the family.

At the evening meal we use the Vespers versicle which is "a sedative, soothing our hearts in spiritual repose." Before grace the father says:

Father: Drop down dew, ye heavens above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

All answer: Let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior.

Here again the versicle is familiar because we sing the words during evening prayers.

Prayer Source: Family Advent Customs by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1979
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