"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
Today is the Feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle! Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He was a disciple of the great St. John the Baptist. When John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Andrew understood that Jesus was greater. At once he left John to follow the Divine Master.
Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him, and turning back, he asked, "what do you seek?" When Andrew answered that he would like to know where Jesus lived, Our Lord replied, "Come and see." Andrew had been only a little time with Jesus when he realized that this was truly the Messiah.
From then on, he chose to follow Jesus. Andrew was thus the first disciple of Christ. Next, Andrew brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) to Jesus and Jesus received him, too, as His disciple. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good.
The feast of St. Andrew marks the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of a new year with the start of Advent. In fact, the Sunday that falls nearest to St. Andrew’s feast day on November 30th is always the first Sunday of Advent.
There are many popular traditions associated with St. Andrew's feast day. The most popular St. Andrew’s feast day tradition is to begin a Christmas novena prayer.
It’s called the St. Andrew Christmas Novena, or more simply, The Christmas Novena, and it’s a wonderful way to enter into the Advent season that is marked by a time of anticipation, penance, and prayer. While the origins of this prayer are unknown, it is over 100 years old at least and may have come from Ireland. This novena prayer is prayed longer than the traditional nine days - it is prayed through all four weeks of Advent. What a perfect Novena to help us spiritually during this Advent season. It is believed that whoever recites the St. Andrew Christmas novena prayer FIFTEEN times each day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas Eve will obtain the favor requested.
This won't be easy. Please dedicate your advent to this prayerful time. Pray this novena 15 times a day for 25 days. This Novena will leave your heart well-prepared to welcome the coming of Christ.
The beauty and sweetness of this prayer through its daily recitation will allow you to meditate more fully on the profound mystery of the Incarnation. Prayer is an essential part of Advent. We must remember to bring Christ into our Advent and use this time to prepare ourselves. This special novena is a simple yet beautiful way to celebrate the spiritual significance of the Advent season and to experience a deeper conversion to Jesus.
Go ahead! Prepare the way for Our Lord by opening your hearts. Copy it, save it to your desktop, memorize it, print it out, set a hourly reminder on your phone... whatever you need to help you remember to pray this novena!! You won't be disappointed.
St. Andrew Christmas Novena
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 through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.
This reflection was written in 2011, but it still is true for our times now!! Let us pray and give thanksgiving!
Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.
On this Thanksgiving Day, Americans are encouraged to pause and give thanks to God. In his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln wrote: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.”
As you may recall, in 1863, the United States was in the Civil War, a terribly brutal and emotionally horrifying experience. Thousands of young Americans had died, while others faced the prospect of imminent death. Yet, in the midst of such a challenging time, President Lincoln called upon Americans to remember the richness of God’s blessings and to be thankful.
So it should be with us. In many ways, 2011 has not been an easy year for our nation. We continue to struggle with economic hardships. Bad weather and natural disasters have devastated whole cities. Wars continue to take thousands of men and women away from their homes, and some of these brave soldiers will never return. Political tensions throughout the world bring the threat of further violence and death.
Thus, we need to hear the encouragement of Abraham Lincoln again. In spite of our challenges and setbacks, we have been richly blessed by God. Thanksgiving is due just as much today as it was in 1863, perhaps much more.
When we give thanks, we bring to mind God’s gifts to us. This, in turn, reminds us of God’s gracious nature. We think, not just of what God has done, but also of who God is. Thus, thanks is a point of entry to praise. In the language of Psalm 100, we enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, so that we might go into his courts with praise. There’s no biblical rule that states that thanks must always come before praise. But, for many of us, thanksgiving for what God has done leads us to praise God for who he is.
So, may you enter God’s gates with thanksgiving today, so that you might celebrate in his courts with praise! May God give you a rich and blessed Thanksgiving Day!
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How is it possible to give thanks even in hard times? Does thanking God lead to praising God in your life? For what are you most grateful today?
PRAYER: Thank you, gracious God, for your abundant gifts to me. Thank you for giving me, not what I deserve, but so very much more. Thank you for the ways you have blessed me throughout my life. Thank you for allowing me to live in a country where I am free, safe, and prosperous. Thank you, most of all, for the gift of life you have given me through Christ. Thanks for the incredible privilege of knowing you and living my life in relationship with you, both now and forever.
All praise be to you, O God, giver of all good gifts! All praise be to you, because your grace and mercy are without end! All praise be to you for the gift of life in this world, and life forever in the age to come! All praise to you, O God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!
by Joyce Meyer
You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your positions, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord [Who is] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Fear not nor be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17
All of us face various kinds of battles in our lives. No one escapes problems and challenges, which we often call “the storms of life.” The good news is that God already knows what He will do when we face difficulties. He has a plan to bring us victory. Second Chronicles 20 tells us that we do not need to fight our own battles because our battles belong to the Lord, not to us. All we need to do is take our positions and remain in them until our breakthroughs come.
What is that position? I believe it is worshipping God.
Unless we have a strong faith in God, anytime a storm comes into our lives, the first thing that happens is that we lose our peace and begin to feel fear. Our enemy, Satan, injects “what if” thoughts into our heads, and we often begin to think we will have the worst possible outcome.
As soon as this happens, we should realize what’s going on: The enemy is trying to keep us from going forward in God’s will and experiencing His good plans for our lives. God wants us to be totally free from fear. He doesn’t want us to live in torment, and He doesn’t want fear to stop us from confidently doing what He leads us to do.
When we have a deep understanding of God’s perfect, unconditional love for us, we realize He will always take care of everything that concerns us. That knowledge eventually delivers us from fear. As we gain experience with God and see that He always takes care of us and provides what we need, we begin to relax.
There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection]. 1 John 4:18
God moves on our behalf when we focus on Him instead of our fears. Thoughts or feelings of fear are nothing more than the enemy’s attempt to distract us from God and His will for our lives. We may feel fear at various times in our lives, but we can trust God. And if we need to do something, even though we feel afraid, we can do it.
This “do it afraid” theory is something God began teaching me years ago. I saw that when He told Joshua to “fear not” (see Joshua 8:1), He was actually warning him that fear would try to stop him from moving ahead with God’s plan for his life; instead of letting fear control him, he needed to be strong and full of courage and to keep going forward. He needed to fight and win the battle against fear so he could experience the victory of fulfilling God’s plan and enjoy everything God had for him.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
When we feel fear or begin to have fearful thoughts, the first thing we should do is pray. I often say, “Pray about everything and fear nothing.” We should set ourselves to seek God until we know we have overcome our fears mentally and emotionally. As we seek God, we are focusing on Him instead of our fears. We worship Him for Who He is and express our appreciation for the good He has done, is doing, and will continue to do.
God has new opportunities and great things in store for us. To receive them, we will need to take extra steps of faith. That often means doing things we don’t feel like doing or may not even think will work. Our trust and reverence for God must be greater than what we think, want, or feel.
The enemy brings all kinds of storms into our lives. He also tries to use fear in many different forms to keep us from experiencing everything God has for us. Even though we may feel fear, we need to focus our attention on God. He has a battle plan for us, and He will give us courage and faith to receive the peace, victories and blessings He has for us.
If our lives are filled with plenty of praise for God’s mighty acts and worship for Who God is, we will see Him fight our battles for us and we will experience joyful victories.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen