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Catholic Culture Overview

Catholic Prayer: Enthroning the Christ Child


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On Christmas Eve the family should have a little religious ceremony during which the Christ Child is processed and placed into the crib. This procession on Christmas Eve shows children how their expectation of Christmas is fulfilled.


Our Advent expectation is drawing quickly to a close! During the stillness of this holy night, the long-awaited Savior shall appear. In families where the children have experienced the longing of the past four weeks, the birth of Christ is a vivid reality. Many of these families have adopted the custom of laying the Christ-Child in the crib with a special procession and ceremony on Christmas Eve.

The family gathers together in one room of the house, and the youngest child is given the statue of the Christ-Child to carry to the crib. Earlier his mother has told him what a privilege it is to bear the Child, and often during the day he has been reminded of his responsibility to be good in order to live up to this honor. He leads the procession through the house, flanked by an older brother and sister bearing lighted candles. Appropriate Christmas carols are sung as the procession makes its way towards the living room.

When the family reaches the living room, all stand around the crib while the father reads the solemn proclamation of the birth of Christ from the Roman Martyrology. The proclamation and a suggested form of Christmas Eve prayers are given on the following pages. The blessing of the crib, becoming popular in many families, is included.

Christmas Eve Prayers

Father: From the Roman Martyrology:

In the twenty-fourth day of the month of December;
In the year five-thousand one-hundred and ninety-nine from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;
In the year two-thousand nine-hundred and fifty-seven from the flood;
In the year two-thousand and fifty-one from the birth of Abraham;
In the year one-thousand five-hundred and ten from the going forth of the people of Israel out of Egypt under Moses;
In the year one-thousand and thirty-two from the anointing of David as king;
In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
In the one-hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
In the year seven-hundred and fifty-two from the foundation of the city of Rome;
In the forty-second year of the reign of the Emperor Octavian Augustus;
In the sixth age of the world, while the whole earth was at peace —
eternal God and the Son of the eternal Father, willing to consecrate the world by His gracious coming, having been conceived of the Holy Ghost, and the nine months of His conception being now accomplished, (all kneel) was born in Bethlehem of Judah of the Virgin Mary, made man. The birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the flesh.

All: Thanks be to God.

(The Child is now placed in the crib by the youngest child, while all sing the following antiphon.)

All Sing:

This day Christ is born; this day the Savior hath appeared; this day angels are singing on earth, archangels are rejoicing. This day the just are glad and say, Glory to God in high heaven, alleluia.

All: (All pray Psalm 109, one of the great Messianic psalms.)
The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand * till I make your enemies your footstool."

The scepter of your power the Lord will stretch forth from Sion: * "Rule in the midst of your enemies.

Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor; * before the day-star, like the dew, I have begotten you."

The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent: * "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedech."

The Lord is at your right hand; * he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.

He will do judgment on the nations, heaping up corpses; * he will crush heads over the wide earth.

From the brook by the wayside he will drink; * therefore will he lift up his head.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son * and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.

All Sing: This day Christ is born; this day the Savior hath appeared; this day angels are singing on earth, archangels are rejoicing: This day the just are glad and say, Glory to God in high heaven, alleluia.

Mother or Eldest Child reads the Gospel from the Christmas Mass at Midnight.

All: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will. We praise Thee. We bless Thee. We adore Thee. We glorify Thee. We give Thee thanks for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

O Lord, the Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father. Thou who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Thou who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For Thou only are holy. Thou only art the Lord. Thou only Jesus Christ, art most high. With the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Father: O Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come to You.

Father: Let us pray. O God, who made this most holy night to shine forth with the brightness of the true Light, grant we beseech Thee, that we who have known the mystery of His light on earth, may attain the enjoyment of His happiness in heaven. Who lives and reigns with Thee forever and ever.

(The last window of the Advent Tower, masking the Christmas scene could be opened here.)

Crib Blessing

Father: Bless, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, this crib (he sprinkles it with holy water) which we have prepared in honor of the new birth in the flesh of Thine only begotten Son, that all who devoutly contemplate in this image the mystery of His Incarnation, may be filled with the light of His glory. Who lives and reigns with Thee forever and ever.

All: Amen.

FATHER intones a familiar Christmas carol to end — appropriately "Silent Night" or "O Come, All Ye Faithful."

Prayer Source: Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Elsa Chaney, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1955