Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Anticipating Christmas, Beginning with Saint Andrew and the Immaculate Conception

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 29, 2021 | In The Liturgical Year

From the archives, originally published November 29, 2016:

November 30 is the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle and also the pivotal date for the beginning of Advent, starting the Sunday closest to November 30

Also on November 30 starts the tradition to begin two traditional novenas: 1) the Novena to the Immaculate Conception of Mary honoring the patroness of the United States in preparation for her feast day on December 8, and 2) the Christmas Anticipation Prayer, traditionally prayed fifteen times each day before Christmas. The origins of the latter prayer are unknown, but it is older:

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, O my God,
to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
[here mention your request]
through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

The prayer is referred to by all sorts of names: Christmas Novena, St. Andrew’s Novena, St. Andrew’s Christmas Prayer, Christmas Anticipation Prayer, sometimes even St. Andrew’s Chaplet. I’m not trying to stir up a controversy, but technically, this is not a novena, because it lasts longer than nine days.

The prayer also has nothing to do with St. Andrew except that it begins on his feast day. It is not unusual or surprising that some of the names incorporate St. Andrew, because that is a Catholic tradition to use the saint of the day to name traditions of that day instead of the calendar date. Nevertheless, the prayer is not to St. Andrew, nor does it refer to St. Andrew.

So what to call the prayer? My son’s school solution is my favorite. They pray this prayer during Advent and solve the whole conundrum on what to call the prayer by calling it “Hail and Blessed.”

Regardless the name, it is a beautiful way to prepare for Christ’s coming, whether it is said fifteen times or just once a day.

I created a few versions of prayer cards of the “Hail and Blessed” to print and use within your own Domestic Church. Enjoy!

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, mother, CGS catechist and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org’s liturgical year section. See full bio.

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