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Preparing for Christmas

with Pope Benedict XVI

An Advent Novena
Bishop Angelus Comastri
Vicar General for Vatican City
November 13, 2008
First published as Prepariamoci al Natale con Benedetto XVI: Novena
© 2008 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Compiled by Lucio Coco.
English translation by Paola Piscitelli.
© 2009 by Ave Maria Press, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatso-
ever, 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.
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ISBN-10 1-59471-233-6 ISBN-13 978-1-59471-233-3
Cover art: The Madonna of the Roses C.1469/70 Sandro Botticelli (1444-1510 Italian)
Tempera/Wood Panel Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy with permission from Bridgeman
Art Library, London and SuperStock.
Cover and text design by Katherine Robinson Coleman.
Printed and bound in the United States of America.

Introduction ★ 2

How to Use This Booklet ★ 4

Day One Jesus Comes to Do the Father’s Will ★ 5

Day Two God’s Kingship ★ 11

Day Three The Just One ★ 17

Day Four We Need Angels ★ 23

Day Five Mary, the Mother Who Said Yes ★ 29

Day Six On the Path of Charity ★ 35

Day Seven In Conversation with God ★ 41

Day Eight Directed to Christ ★ 47

Day Nine Sun of Justice ★ 54





he Christmas novena enriches and perfects Advent as a time

T of waiting. It will help make the promises and prayers of the

season deeper and more intense. Thus we will be more
ready to welcome the Child of Bethlehem who shows us the
truth of a God who reveals himself in weakness and humili-
ty. He shows us a God who becomes man, “so that we can be with him and
become like him” (Benedict XVI, Christmas Homily, 2005); a God who takes
on our limitations. Jesus accepted our human condition, not to lower it but
rather to exalt it. He reveals human greatness even in our nature’s finitude. In
his love he takes our nature and thus makes it great and sublime.
Love is the attitude that the Child in the manger asks of us and reveals to
us. In his nativity, Jesus comes to tell us that the “love of God has appeared in
our midst. He has become visible in as much as he ‘has sent his only Son into
the world, so that we might live through him’” (1 Jn 4:9; Deus Caritas Est,
17). The Child in the manger is a sweet and delicate sign “of that closeness
of God which we ought to love and to which we must yield” (Christmas
Homily, 2009). “He is the sublime protagonist of the love story between God
and humanity” (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 17).
With the annunciation to Mary—“Hail, full of grace”—the Son whom
God sent to earth makes all time a time of grace. Advent in particular is a

time when, through meditation and prayer, we can deepen our understand-
ing of the authentic meaning God’s desire to come toward us in history—to
come toward us always. It is a time that makes us more sensitive and atten-
tive to his offer of daily grace, to his intervention in our lives to help prepare
us to welcome him and to give him hospitality. (Yet we also remember the
warning at the beginning of John’s Gospel proclaiming the risk of rejection
and the presence of darkness, cf. John 1:5.) We need to make room for his
birth and await what it represents—the presence of the transcendent, the
invisible, and the spiritual in our lives, every day.
Marked by the days of the novena, may the time of Advent vigil help us to
prepare for his Advent, to be ready, knowing that we have to do all that is
possible to prepare. As the response of the Canticle of Christmas Prophecy
proclaims, “Behold, the Lord comes. Come, let us adore him.” We have great
need of him, of the God who comes in our days. Only he can fulfill and bring
to completion all we do. As much as we can fervently long for his coming, as
much as we can desire it with all our hearts, we cannot obtain it alone.
Christmas teaches us this: to be meek, to bend to God’s will manifested in his
Son. He came to seek us out. He came to make available to us what we, with-
out his grace, would otherwise uselessly strive for.


he novena is a traditional Catholic prayer form that has its

T roots in scripture. When Jesus was about to ascend to heav-
en, he told his disciples not to depart from Jerusalem but to
remain together in prayer and to “wait for the promise of
the Father” (Acts 1:4). Nine days later, on the Jewish feast of Pentecost, the
Holy Spirit came upon them. Thus the practice of prayer for nine consecutive
days arose.
This booklet provides a way to pray and prepare for the fulfillment of
God’s original promise, made in the book of Genesis after the sin of Adam
and Eve: to send us a redeemer. Using the traditional form of a novena, it
gathers together passages from scripture with various selections from Pope
Benedict XVI’s homilies and other addresses. Each day it also uses the
Canticle of Mary (the Magnificat) and a new canticle entitled the “Canticle of
Christmas Prophecy.”
The novena was designed to be used in a communal setting, but it can
also be used individually. It can be prayed in church before or after the
Eucharist, as a morning or evening prayer, at parish meetings, or with small
groups. It is an excellent resource for family use as well. The days can be
prayed consecutively beginning on December 16 and concluding on
December 24. Or, another starting date can be chosen if the busy days just
before Christmas are judged too challenging to gather people together. One
might even choose to stretch the bounds of the novena form and observe the
nine days over a longer period of time. In whatever way you choose to use it,
we hope you will find this novena to be an ideal prayer companion for the
joyful yet hectic days leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
Note: Texts written by Pope Benedict are referenced by date. Many of these (though not all)
can be found on the Vatican website:

D A Y ★ O N E

J esus Comes to Do the Father’s Will

★ Entrance Antiphon
Let us learn to accept the will of the Father with Christ’s help, so that we
may take the right path, the path that opens us to walk toward the future
(General Audience, March 7, 2007).

★ Greeting
Celebrant: In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Assembly: Amen

C: The grace and peace of Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary,
be with you all.
A: And with your spirit.

★ Canticle of Christmas Prophecy

Recite antiphonally.

Antiphon: Our Lord and king is drawing near;

come let us adore him!

(The antiphon is to be recited or sung at the end of every stanza.)

1. Rejoice, Daughter of Sion,
and exult Daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold the Lord comes,
there will be a great light on that day,
and the mountains shall drop down sweetness.
The hills shall flow with milk and honey,
for in that day the great prophet will come
and he will renew Jerusalem.
2. Behold the God-Man of the house of David
will come to sit upon the royal throne
and you will see him and your heart will rejoice.
3. The Lord our protector will come,
the Holy One of Israel,
wearing a crown upon his royal brow.
And he will reign from sea to sea
and from the river to the ends of the earth.
4. The Lord will appear,
and he will not deceive;
if he should delay,

wait for him to come.
He will surely come and will not tarry.
5. The Lord will come down like rain
upon the fleece of Gideon.
Justice will reign
and an abundance of true peace.
All the kings of the lands will adore him
and every nation will serve him.
6. A child will be born to us,
and he will be called God the almighty;
he will sit upon the royal throne of David his father,
and he will hold sway,
the sign of his power on his shoulder.
7. Bethlehem, city of the Most High God,
from you will come forth the king of Israel,
and he will proceed forth from eternity
and he will be greatly praised
in the midst of the entire universe.
And there will be peace in our land
when he has come.

★ Reflection
Pope Benedict tells us:
The Letter to the Hebrews says that the words of Psalm 40 became a kind
of dialogue between the Father and the Son—a dialogue that set in motion
the Incarnation. The eternal Son says to the Father: “Sacrifice and offering
you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. . . . Behold, I come to do
your will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:5, 7; cf. Psalm 40:6–8; Homily, September
11, 2006)

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light
of Christ’s Incarnation: “When Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Here I
am, I have come to do your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10:5–7: Homily, March
25, 2006)
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 40 in the light
of Christ’s Incarnation: “When Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Here I
am, I have come to do your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10:5–7: Homily, March
25, 2006)

★ Reading
The Parable of the two sons (Mt 21:28–31)
A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, “Son, go out and
work in the vineyard today.” He said in reply, “I will not,” but afterwards he
changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the
same order. He said in reply, “Yes, sir,” but did not go. Which of the two did
his father’s will?

★ Meditation
With Benedict XVI we meditate:
A model of this authentic moral action is the behavior of the Incarnate
Word himself. He makes his will coincide with the will of God the Father in
the acceptance and carrying out of his mission: his food is to do the Father’s
will (cf. John 4:34). He always does the things that are pleasing to the Father,
putting his words into practice (cf. John 8:29–55); he says the things that the
Father asked him to say and to proclaim (cf. John 12:49). In revealing the
Father and his way of acting, Jesus at the same time reveals the norms of
upright human action. He affirms this connection in an explicit and exempla-
ry way when, in concluding his teaching on loving one’s enemies (cf.
Matthew 5:43–47), he says: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is
perfect” (Mt 5:48). This divine, divine-human, perfection becomes possible
for us if we are closely united with Christ, our Savior. (Speech, April 17,
★ Magnificat
Recite antiphonally.

Behold, the King will come, the Lord of the earth,
He will remove from us the yoke of our captivity.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me;
and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit,
He cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.
(The antiphon is repeated.)

★ Intercessions
In joy, in sorrow, in every moment of our life . . .
Response: Teach us to do your will.
When human wisdom would like to divert us from the way of good . . .
Response: Teach us to do your will.
When we would like to be absolute masters of our existence . . .
Response: Teach us to do your will.

★ Closing Prayer
Good Father,
who allowed our salvation to spring
from the mystery of the obedience of your beloved Son,
allow our existence, like his,
to be a ceaseless “Amen” raised to you,
in a serene and trustful union to your will of love,
so that in him, through him, and with him,
in the sweet strength of the Spirit,
we may become assistants to your plan of love
that desires the salvation of every child of yours.
We ask this through Christ, the perfectly obedient one.