When I close my eyes I can still hear her soft voice and picture her beautiful face and deep brown eyes looking lovingly at me. She is kneeling next to my bed – it is a chilly winter’s eve – she reminds me that on this Feast Day of St. Andrew, it is time to begin our Christmas novena. She would repeat this scene faithfully for the next 25 nights, until Christmas Eve. Together with my siblings, we would pray 15 St. Andrew prayers or “Hail and Blessed’s” as we liked to call them. It was a precious prayer time every Advent with our beloved mother. I recall it so vividly, as if it was only yesterday.
And now here we are – St. Andrew’s Feast Day 2016 – my beloved Mother’s first one in heaven. I wonder what it might be like for her tonight? I wonder if she has continued this tradition, begun by her mother, in her current paradise? If so, I am sure she has engaged her beautiful parents and sister Barbara to join her in prayer among the angels and saints and perhaps even Saint Andrew himself. What a beautiful scene to behold!
Mom taught us that the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena was very special and powerful. If prayed faithfully throughout the Advent season, while awaiting the birth of the Savior, one would obtain the favor requested. It wasn’t easy staying true to your word – 15 novenas a night for 25 days is a challenge – but Mom always helped us along. When we forgot to pray, she would always help us catch up. Mom made it fun and memorable, plus we got a chance to spend wonderul, quiet time with a person who exuded only goodness and love – I think that is why I love this prayer so much!
Each year, my siblings and I would choose a different intention to pray for. Mom taught us to pray for something deep and meaningful. It could be a loved one’s health, a family member’s well-being, a friend in need, something at school, those less fortunate or anything we deemed “important.” Mom also taught us to give thanks for all our blessings, no matter what was going on in life. “We never feel sorry for ourselves.” she would advise.
Thanks to Mom’s loving guidance and example, she showed me and my siblings how to live for others – how to offer up our sufferings for others and how to pray and act for the good of others. This is what the Christmas Novena is all about – preparing the way for Christ who is LOVE.
As I purchased a little chocolate cake today for my Andrew, in order to celebrate his feast day, I’ll admit that my mind was fixed on Mom and her love for this special day. As the first disciple of Christ, St. Andrew was full of love and a faithful servant of God. If Mom were here, I think she’d agree that my Andrew is a lot like his namesake – full of love and close to God thanks to the love of his family…especially the love of his beloved Nona!
For those who wish to pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena with us this Advent, see below. Thanks to my precious Mom, we will carry on her Advent prayer tradition with love and gratitude. Our intention this year will obviously be for the one whom we adore and miss deeply…Mom/Nona/Joanie.
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 (say here) through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.