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O Radiant Dawn

5-Minute Prayers
Around the Advent Wreath

Lisa M. Hendey

ave maria press

notre dame, indiana

To Martha, a dear friend


and a light to so many

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. ____________________________________ 2012 by Lisa M. Hendey All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, except in the case of reprints in the context of reviews, without written permission from Ave Maria Press, Inc., P.O. Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Founded in 1865, Ave Maria Press is a ministry of the United States Province of Holy Cross. www.avemariapress.com ISBN-10 1-59471-299-9 ISBN-13 978-1-59471-299-9 Cover image Thinkstock. Cover and text design by Katherine Robinson Coleman. Printed and bound in the United States of America.

Introduction
My morning routine brings me to our kitchen window, where I have a beautiful view of our backyard and often catch a glorious sunrise. Fantastic hues of pinks, reds, and oranges welcome me to a new day. Sadly, my mind is too often filled with the to-do lists and mundane tasks that preoccupy a busy woman, and I neglect to revel in Gods awesome majesty. Recently, while standing at that window on a particularly crisp, clear morning, my heart soared at the first rays of light. In that moment, one of the O Antiphons of Advent came to mind and sparked in my heart a sense of amazement at the splendor of Gods love for me: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice; come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Advent can rush past us like my morning sunrise moments. Our days fill up with details as every moment seems occupied with readying our homes and preparing our traditions. Its easy to miss what is most sacred about this time of year. Frequently, in our haste to do it all and make lasting memories, we neglect to ready our hearts to commemorate the Child Jesus, to make room for Christ in our lives each day, and to prepare for his coming in glory at the end of time. Just as that recent dawn took my breath away and drew me to Christ, this humble booklet can be for your family a doorway into the profound solace of a well-kept Advent. With a few minutes of daily silence, scripture, prayer, and private reflection or shared conversation about what matters most, I hope you find and grow to cherish a place of quiet refuge around your Advent wreath. Put away unhelpful expectations of what you think Advent should be and allow this to be a time of simplicity, focus, and sacred longing. The Origins, Purpose, and Traditions of Advent Advent begins the Churchs liturgical year by calling us not just to remember Christs birth in ancient Bethlehem but also to open our hearts to him each day and to anticipate with steadfast hope his coming in glory at the end of time. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before December 25 and varies in length from twenty-one days (if Christmas falls on a Monday) to twenty-eight days (if it falls on a Sunday), but there are always four Sundays. From December 17 through December 23, we pray the O Antiphons. Traditionally prayed at Evening Prayer before and after the Magnificat (a

hymn to the Blessed Mother), each antiphon celebrates a title or name of Christ. The O Antiphons appear in this booklet as optional opening prayers for the appropriate days. Advent ends with Midday Prayer on Christmas Eve. Originating in Europe, prayer around the Advent wreath has become a beloved tradition for Christian families around the world. The wreaths simple circle of evergreens represents the never-ending promise of eternal life. Upon the wreath or in its middle we arrange four candlesthree purple and one rose. The purple candles mark the solemn tone of the season and call us to wait patiently, eyes set on Christ. The rose candle marks our great joy as Christmas approaches. A single purple candle is lit each day of the first week of Advent, then two purple candles during the second week. The lighting of the rose candle is added for the third week, and all four candles are lit during the fourth week. The light of our Advent wreaths grows in the deepening darkness of winter, representing the Light of Christ that shines in the darkness of our broken and longing world. From the sacred spaces of our homes, Catholics and other Christians await the Radiant Dawn, who is Christ. Praying with This Booklet There is no right way to use this booklet. If you are blessed with children in your home, involve them in whatever ways seem best. Young children will enjoy the candles, the silence, listening to the scriptures, and perhaps even leading the prayer. Older children will enjoy the few moments of stillness in their busy lives. Age-appropriate prompts provide starters for reflection or conversation about the scripture readings. If you have very young children at home, simply use the elements of each days entry that seem appropriate for your family. Prayer around the Advent wreath is a devotion that carries rich tradition yet it is not regulated as is our liturgical prayer. Reverence and prayerful attention are called for, but adaptation to the needs of your household are most welcome, perhaps even essential. May this season of great hope draw your hearts and minds closer to Christ and to others in the radiant light of Gods amazing love, and may the blessings of the Christ Child be richly poured out upon your family this Advent season and always.

First Sunday of Advent


Gather your family or household around the wreath. Leader: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. Light the first purple candle. All say: Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown. All pray in silence or sing a verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Read Romans 13:1112 It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Pause for silent prayer. Then reflect on or talk about: What comes to mind when you hear works of darkness? Your own sinfulness? The brokenness of our world? Perhaps just the melancholy of winter? What works of darkness can you throw off this Advent? With younger children: Advent is a time to prepare our hearts to receive Jesus. What do you think Saint Paul means when he says we should put on the armor of light, and how can we do that? Closing Prayer God, Father Almighty, you sent your son Jesus to be light for a world in great need of salvation. Help us grow ever closer to you and to one another as we journey in love through this holy season. While making the Sign of the Cross, all say: + Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Amen.

First Monday of Advent


Gather your family or household around the wreath. Leader: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. Light the first purple candle. All say: Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown. All pray in silence or sing a verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Read Isaiah 2:45 They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Pause for silent prayer. Then reflect on or talk about: What can you do this Advent to bring Christs peace to your household, neighborhood, nation, or world? How can the season be for you a new experience in faith and prayer? With younger children: To walk in the light of the Lord means to do good things and be happy for all God does for us. What does it look like for our family to walk in the light of the Lord? Closing Prayer Prince of Peace, we work and pray with hope that the world will one day be united in the joy of your loving presence. As we gather close to the fire of your love, prepare us to be your hands, your peace, your light, and hope to all we meet. While making the Sign of the Cross, all say: + Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Amen.

First Tuesday of Advent


Gather your family or household around the wreath. Leader: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. Light the first purple candle. All say: Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown. All pray in silence or sing a verse of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Read Psalm 72:17 May his name be blessed forever; as long as the sun his name shall remain. In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations shall proclaim his happiness. Pause for silent prayer. Then reflect on or talk about: How can we share the glad tidings of the Gospel with our friends and relatives who may not know Christ? With younger children: How do we share with each other, our friends, and our neighbors the happiness we find in living as Jesus wants us to live? Closing Prayer God, whose name we bless forever, we seek our happiness according to your perfect plan. In you, we are richly blessed, yet so many people remain in great need. Help us never turn a blind eye to poverty. To the poor, may we bring food and shelter. With the lonely, may we share your love and kindness. To the despairing, may we offer comfort. May our actions always be a witness to your goodness and may our love for you inspire and unite all in your name. While making the Sign of the Cross, all say: + Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! Amen.