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If you flunked Advent, here’s why you should take heart


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Alicia Ambrosio - published on 12/26/17

Check out the great line-up of feasts and holy days we are awaiting.

If your pre-Christmas spiritual preparation didn’t go according to your hopes, fear not! There are tons of ways to get your heart into Christmas shape, now that Christmas Day has passed.

A variety of prayers and novenas – nine days of special prayers related to the feast you are preparing for – are part of the Christmas season.

Of course Christmas only begins on December 25. The feast of the Epiphany, which falls on January 6, marks the day when the three kings arrived at Bethlehem. In between Christmas Day and Epiphany there are several feast days, optional memorials, and saints’ days to keep the wonder of the true Christmas season going.

December 26 might be the day when some people run to the shopping malls for Boxing Day deals. On the Church calendar it is the feast ofSt. Stephen, the first martyr.

The following day, December 27, is the feast of St. John the Apostle. Then December 28 is the feast of the Holy Innocents. A novena to the Holy Innocents started December 20, but even just one or two days of praying this prayer can bring you closer to these little ones who gave their lives for Christ.

Heavenly Father,
By their wordless profession of faith in your Son, the Holy Innocents were crowned with life at His birth. Knowing how precious they are to you and how similar they are to the millions of innocent lives lost through abortion, we call on them to join in our prayer:
  1. That all our elected leaders, legislators, and judges may come to acknowledge the humanity of every child in the womb and enact laws and policies to defend them, we pray: Lord, hear our prayer.
  2. That everyone throughout the world may be given the light to see beyond all doubt the uniqueness and full humanity of every child who has ever been conceived, we pray: Lord, hear our prayer.
For these intentions and in union with the Holy Innocents, we pray as the Lord Jesus taught us: Our Father …

January 2 is the feast of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, two doctors of the church. This would be a good day to learn more about them and their writings. This can get you started:

4 Spiritual lessons from Eastern Monasticism for everyday lifeAdvice from St. Gregory on how to reject 3 temptations of the devil

January 3 is the option memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus. There isn’t a specific novena for this feast, but you could take some time to visit Jesus in the tabernacle and make a point of praying a prayer such as this one:

O Divine Jesus, Thou hast promised that anything we ask of the Eternal Father in Thy name shall be granted.
O Eternal Father, In the name of Jesus, for the love of Jesus, in fulfillment of this promise, and because Jesus has said it, grant us our petitions for the sake of Jesus, Thy Divine Son.

In the United States, January 4 is the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and January 5 is the feast day of St. John Neumann, a Redemptorist priest who became Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. Learn about them here:

The unbreakable Elizabeth Ann Seton helps adjust our perspective upwardsSt. John Neumann: American saint who arrived with $1 in his pocket and one suit of clothes

(In fact, Aleteia has been running a series on saints of the United States. Check it out here.)

On the liturgical calendar New Year’s Eve is actually the Feast of the Holy Family. There are novenas that can be prayed in preparation for the feast, and novenas to the Holy Family that begin January 1. There are also several prayers that can be used to consecrate your family to the Holy Family.

New Year’s Day is the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. There is a no dedicated novena for this feast, but you this prayer is great preparation:

God our Father, may we always profit by the prayers of the Virgin Mother Mary, for you bring us life and salvation through Jesus Christ her Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Finally January 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany. To prepare for the feast, and the end of the 12 days of Christmas, there is aNovena to the Magi that can be prayed starting December 28. Each day you pray a short prayer like this one:

O holy Magi! You lived in continual expectation of the rising of the Star of Jacob, which would announce the birth of the true Sun of justice; pray for us that we will increase in faith and charity, and receive the grace to live in continual hope of beholding one day the light of heavenly glory and eternal joy.

In many countries in Latin America, on the evening of January 5, children leave their shoes behind the front door and wake up to find that the kings have left a small gift in them. Some families also place figures of the three kings in the house and move them closer to the nativity scene each day. Finally on the ninth day the figures are placed in the nativity scene.

Prayers for a Particular Need
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