Last year, 2017, Fr. Joseph and I began a new Advent tradition here at St. Agnes Cathedral, a Christmas Novena. It is a beautiful tradition which many people do not even think about or enjoy. The final week of Advent, beginning on December 17th, the Christmas Novena is built around the O Antiphons. Their main theme is messianic, stressing the hope of the Savior’s coming. Within them Jesus is proclaimed by various titles, mainly taken from the prophet Isaiah. Each O Antiphon begins with an invocation of the expected Messiah, followed by praise of him under one of his particular titles. Each ends with a petition for God’s people, corresponding to the title by which He is addressed in the Antiphon. The Novena is celebrated in low lighting with candles, concluding with Benediction.
On December 17th, Wisdom from the Most High: O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.
On December 18th, Ruler of House of Israel: the Lord will be there with us, majestic, our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our King, He it is who will save us.
On December 19th, Root of Jesse: remember that Jesse was the father of King David, and the prophet Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem.
On December 20th, Key of David: O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven, leading the captive people into freedom and He will rule forever.
On December 21st, Rising Dawn and Dayspring: for the people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.
On December 22nd, King of the Gentiles: a King of all the nations, and He shall judge between the nations and impose His justice and terms on all peoples.
On December23rd, Emmanuel: the King and lawgiver, the desire of the nations and Savior of all peoples. The title itself means, “God is with us.”
Many people have asked me, “Are not novenas supposed to be nine days?” The Christmas Novena continues at the Christmas Eve Mass when I sing the Christmas Proclamation and concludes on Christmas Day with Mass and the Gospel of Jesus’ Birth from John’s account.
I invite everyone this year to share in this beautiful Advent tradition leading up to the celebration of our Lord’s birth on Christmas. Let the Christmas Novena help make this a truly spiritual time. The Novena begins at 7 pm and will conclude at 7:30 and on Wednesday thru Friday we will host our open rectory beginning at 7:30. My sister has helped tremendously with all of our 46 trees, villages and 60 nativity sets from around the world. Come and pray, come and enjoy one another’s company during this hectic time of the year.