(LifeSiteNews) — One of my favorite traditions is to pray the St. Andrew Christmas novena. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s a shame. It’s a beautiful prayer that never fails to remind me of how Christ’s birth revolves around the virtue of humility.
Unlike a regular 9-day novena, St. Andrews’ lasts from November 30th (his feast day) all the way to December 25th. And instead of being prayed once a day, you say it 15 times every 24 hours.
I first prayed the St. Andrew novena when I came back to the Church in 2013 at the age of 27. I’ve done it every year since then. Here’s how it goes:
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 piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires [mention petition here] through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and that of His blessed Mother, Amen.
There are five things I think about when praying this novena — the who, the what, the when, the how, and the why.
The first is the who: Obviously, the Blessed Virgin Mary — who humbly told God, “be it done unto me according to Thy word” — plays a central role in the prayer. Christ Himself, who took the form of a slave by being born a man, is also mentioned. For comparison’s sake, Christ’s birth would be analogous to a man becoming a mosquito and then dying a tortuous death for all the other mosquitos.
Next is the what: Christ’s Incarnation shows us God loves His creatures and that He ardently desires to be with us – in this life and in the next. His entrance into the world indicates He wants nothing more than for us to love Him back.
The when: The birth of Christ didn’t take place in the middle of a warm summer day in a gold-plated delivery room with cameras and a team of doctors in Jerusalem, the central hub of the Jewish religion at the time. Rather, it happened in the middle of the night, in freezing temperatures, in the presence of stinking barn animals and their shepherds. There couldn’t have been a humbler place (or time) to be born.
The how and why: Jesus didn’t need to be born of a woman. God simply could have manifested His only Son on the face of the earth from thin air. Yet, He asked Mary to be His handmaid to collaborate with His Son in the redemption of mankind. In other words, He bestowed upon the docile Mary an honor that ranks her above all other creatures, including the angels.
Taken collectively, the entirety of the manger scene is one enormous work of humility. Think about it — an infinitely powerful God submitting Himself to be born of an earthly creature so He could eventually lay down his life for them.
Meditating on Christmas should cause us to practice humility every day of our lives. That’s easier said than done, of course, but God gave us the St. Andrew novena as a reminder to never forget just how much His Son’s birth revolves around this oft-forgotten virtue. May God bless you and your family this Christmas season.