It is mid December and we can feel that Christmas is in the air. We already find Christmas decorations being hung. It is a sign that the birth of Jesus is nearly coming. The Daughters of Divine Zeal have some initiatives based on the congregational tradition that was inspired by St. Annibale Maria Di Francia so that our journey of faith in celebrating Christmas would be more intense and meaningful.
“The Christmas Novena is the immediate preparation for the birth of the Lord. It is an invitation to intensify the attitudes that are in consonance with the welcoming of the Son of God, who came to flesh as Savior. The protector Saints will help us to cultivate a vigilant faith in prayer, a conversion of the heart and the witnessing of charity.
Saint Annibale Maria has expressed these elements in the novena of the nine lamps: “…with signs and proposed practices to nourish in the hearts the desire for the coming of Christ up to His final glorious manifestation.” (United in Prayer book)
During the Christmas Novena, each day for 9 days we, the Daughters of Divine Zeal, do the following: Advent song, a reflection on the theme of the day, prayer to the Virgin Mary and to St. Joseph, Word from the Scripture and presentation of the symbol to be placed at the foot of the Altar.
Please feel welcome to join us in spirit and prayer.
First Day of the Novena: O Spouse of Sion
Vigilant in prayer, exultant in praise and with lighted lamp, let us go and meet the Spouse who is to come.
Song of the prophecies and lighting of the first lamp.
Throughout history, humanity has prayed and desired that the Lord “would come soon”. The voice of the old prophets, whose voice echoes the prophets of today, repeats: “The Lord is coming. He is near, He is here. He will come like a Spouse for the wedding feast”. In preparing ourselves for Christmas, Father Founder invites us to have the same sentiments of the spouse in the Canticle: “the mystical spouse, enamoured by the celestial Spouse, calls, desires and says: ‘here He comes… This mystical spouse, represents this loving humanity… Each time as the night of December 25 approaches every heart in love with Jesus exults: every loving soul becomes a sacred spouse that says: here He comes'” (Writings of St. Annibale Maria Di Francia, vol.12, p.34)
Let us invoke the help of the Immaculate Virgin and St. Joseph to welcome Christ as the Spouse of our soul:
O Immaculate Virgin Mary,
O venerable St. Joseph,
we beg your help in preparing all the items needed
for the coming birth of the Incarnate Word
in the stable of Bethlehem.
He desires to find hearts which
welcome, clothe, warm and comfort Him. (St. Annibale Maria)
Reading: Matthew 3: 1-4
Prayer: O Immaculate Virgin Mary, O Venerable St. Joseph, we beg your help in preparing all the items for the coming Birth of the Incarnate Word in the stable of Bethlehem. He desires to find hearts which welcome, clothe warm and comfort Him. (St. Annibale Maria)
Symbol: We prepare on the stable of Bethlehem a cradle, made of the wood of the olive trees of Gethsemane and of the tree that will later be used in making the altar of Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation. The cradle will be prepared symbolically by making corporal penance, through a full adhesion to the will of God in the unfavourable events of the day. (The cradle is brought to the altar.)
Prayer: Lord our God, show us your power and help us with your strength. May your love conquer our sinful resistance and hasten the moment of salvation. Through Christ our lord. Amen
Invocation: Let us repeat often during the day: “Come O Child Jesus into my heart which desires You”.
Model of waiting: St. John the Baptist…Pray for us!
Of all the prophets, John the Baptist is the last and the greatest. His mission is to proclaim that the time of waiting is over and a new history has begun, Christ is the key, centre and end. We learn from his example to be missionaries full of zeal and charity to announce Christ to the person whom we meet. (United in Prayer, pp.71-76)