I'll also need to pause shipping a few times this November and December, (check my Facebook pages here and here for the most up to date shipping holds as they occur) since I'll need to be traveling for family reasons, (my father is not well), and I'll be at two local Christmas Markets.
Also, being a solopreneur, I'm not able to adjust inventory properly while much of my items are at a market. Some of the stock numbers of what I have listed online is less than actual stock for that reason. So, if something is low or sold out, just let me know and I'll see what I can find. I also make most of my items in relatively small batches, partly for lack of large storage space, and I always want to use fresh supplies, so that's why I don't have huge quantities on hand. But I can always make more with just a bit of lead time. So please be patient with me as I get to fulfilling your order.
Looking forward to another great and prayerful Advent season! Great to see you all back!
Here's a direct link to my SHOP page with both my Christmas novena supplies and artwork store fronts, that use the same shopping cart for your convenience.
If you're new to this devotion, take a peek here for what it's all about and beloved by so many!
Hard to believe Advent, and this beloved St. Andrew Christmas Novena, are over!
I hope that praying this novena helped you prepare more deeply to adore the Christ Child in that "blessed hour and moment!" No need to stop abruptly, by the way! Keep praying it as long as you feel inspired to! It's a beautiful prayer anytime you are in adoration, or during Mass, as He is about to be made present in the Eucharist. Where ever Jesus is present in the Eucharist, it's Christmas!
See you next Advent, God willing!
In the meantime, to stay connected, follow me on my For the Love of Beauty Facebook page for more ways to pray with art throughout the year and/or subscribe below for email updates.
One more time together...
St. Nicholas Giveaway
Good Luck! Do share with your friends!
2022 Entries are Closed
Entry cut off will be Sunday, December 11, at 3pm.
The winner will receive an email Sunday evening on Dec. 11 informing them of their win and must respond via email within 48 hours to claim their prize. Phone number will be used after 24 hours.
Giveaway open only for entrants with valid USA mailing addresses for shipping purposes.
Sharing some photos highlights from the market: two kind souls brought over market candied almonds, and Gluhwein -in a commemorative mug! Super big mug fan here! Impressive to see (our young) Fr. Nicholas transform after Mass and play old St. Nicholas, spray-painting his beard that he's been growing for the occasion! But the 4-month-old dog wearing lederhosen stole my heart with nuzzles and licks after a long day! Big thanks to the organizers at St. Rita’s in Alexandria, VA for making year 2 a hit!
If you’ve ever felt like Advent was too short, especially when Christmas falls on a Monday and we essentially only have three weeks, consider resurrecting the practice of St. Martin’s Lent.
Perhaps you can add some days of fast or abstinence on the traditional penitential days of Monday/Wednesday/Friday beginning on the 12th of November until Christmas, as a way of ‘making room’ for Jesus in the inn of your soul. You can also start preparing for what spiritual practices, readings, or novenas you will employ during the formal Advent season, that begins on the nearest Sunday to the Feast of St. Andrew (the 30th of November). Even just mentally creating a mindset of preparing to enter into the time of intense preparation, would be a well spent proactive endeavor in preparing the way for an intentional Advent season.
So, for those of you who love Advent as much as me, while it’s not yet time for lighting the Advent candles or decorating the Jesse Tree, it would be a great time to find them ;-) and have them ready! Start to create a space for where they will go, find that spiritual book you can read slowly for 40 days. I’m re-reading Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Frances de Sales and am finding it a great Advent type meditation, a real tilling of the soil and removing obstacles to recollection. The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander is always a favorite that I re-read sections of each Advent. I also just found this great new Catholic book on the Jesse Tree by Eric and Suzan Sammons, The Jesse Tree an Advent Devotion, that's a great prayer companion for making a Jesse Tree. It has all the relevant Scriptures passes printed out for each ornament/day as well as additional reflections and handy calendar charts depending on when Advent starts.
And of course, my all-time favorite novena, the St. Andrew Christmas Novena. It just wouldn’t feel like Advent without it! If you’d like the prayer cards for your group or parish in time for the start date of November 30th, or prayers beads for yourself or as a gift to introduce someone to this extraordinary novena, all subscribers (new and past) will receive a 15% discount code in their email to use beginning 18 November. So, take some time to look around in my shop and see what might interest you. Subscribe at the bottom of this website to get on the list if you haven’t already and watch for an email on the 16th with the code.
I am still adding new items to the Shop so check back often or subscribe to get notified of new items and sales. I do not mass produce my work, so sometimes quantities run out and it may take some time to get more in. If there is something you need that is not available, just send me a message as soon as you can so I can see how I can accommodate you.
Blessed early-bird Advent or St. Martin’s Lent!
Let us know in the comments what your favorite Advent practices or books are that you've found fruitful and willing to share!
Also, thankfully remembering our Veterans who offered their service, so that we may have these very freedoms to live out our Faith.
Here's how to enter!
The Rules for the GIVEAWAY are:
**Optional, after entering the Giveaway via the form below, to increase your chances by one additional entry, state your favorite St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayer beads design from our shop in the comments either on this blog post or on the Giveaway post on the Facebook page. The names and emails would need to match the official entry form submission below in order to be counted twice. I would love to hear what your favorite prayer beads design is, especially as I start planning for next year's new designs.
Good Luck! Do share with your friends!
Yes, enter me for a chance to win a
Saint Andrew Christmas Novena Prayer Bracelet!
Giveaway entries for 2021 are now closed!
Subscribe to the newsletter at the bottom of the site to be notified of other seasonal offerings and next year's Giveaway!
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Last, but not least...
Happy feast of St. John of the Cross! Don't forget to read a reflection on his feast today!
Happy Liturgical New Year everyone and a blessed start to the Advent season!
It's a great opportunity to start anew on many levels, so let me take this opportunity to introduce you to some new St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayer beads!
I brought back an updated light violet design with a beautiful shimmery two tone luster 6mm Czech fire-polished bead that reflects both colors of Advent, violet and rose! It has a light weight to it as well for easy wearing all day, reminding you to looking out for the star that leads to the Christ-child. It is conveniently divided into three sections for breaking up the 15 prayers throughout the day.
I needed to update my beloved deep violet Rosebud beads since the 6mm size appears to be discontinued. I've been searching all year and all I could find was some rare stock of 8mm Rosebud beads that are also very beautiful and have even more detail. Since they have a little more substance to them, to balance it out, I replaced the star charm with the unique Madonna and Child solid sterling silver medal. The imagery pairs beautifully with the rosebud being the symbol of Our Lady, honoring her feast day in Guadalupe giving Juan Diego the sign of roses. These are also conveniently divided in three sections. Since this is my signature design, I'm trying hard to keep it in supply, but I cannot guarantee I will be able to keep offering them. So if you are interested in either of these size rosebud beads, get them while you can.
Both these new bracelets are so beautiful in person and both feel like they are my new favorites! They help me stay focus on different imagery contained in the St. Andrew Christmas Novena Prayer. I hope they help you to pray this novena more deeply too. Let me know what you think!
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!
Did you know that our Christian family in the East begin today what they call a Christmas Lent? It's similar to the Roman Catholic Church tradition of fasting for 40 days until Easter during Lent, and it's called a Nativity Fast. The Roman tradition historically also has a similarly extended 'Advent' season that beings after the feast of St. Martin of Tours on November 11, which ushered in what was called St. Martin's Lent or St. Martin's Fast.
I love resurrecting this idea of extending Advent, the time of preparation before Christmas, especially in the years where the 4th week gets dramatically shortened! I always find that December flies by and that I would have loved more time as a church family to prepare, especially internally.
I was so very happy to learn that in the past, on both the east and west wings of our Christian tradition, Advent was essentially observed for a longer period, closer to 6 or 7 weeks instead of 4! Since Advent is my favorite season of the year, I love that I can lean into this tradition and start my preparations for Christ's birth a little sooner.*
These might be just practical things like getting a head start on locating those Advent candles, Jesse tree ornaments, St. Andrew Christmas Novena beads..., but also interior planning, like deciding what spiritual reading materials I'll be using, or nailing down a morning of recollection or retreat day before the December calendar gets too filled up. Also worth considering is what I could 'fast' from to really do some interior house cleaning, like the way we do in Lent, to make our lives less distracted and more free to focus on the things of heaven. It's good to at least start thinking about these things so that once that first Sunday of Advent comes, we are as fully present as we can be to daily make room for the birth of Our Savior.
Preparing for Christmas with the St. Andrew Christmas Novena is my favorite Advent devotion for it's simplicity, purity, and depth. For more information on it's meaning, read about it here. If you'd like some aids for praying it, visit my SHOP for some prayer beads and prayer cards.
Share what your favorite ways to prepare for Advent are, from books, to prayers and sacrifices, and how you might use the extra time if you had 40 days of Advent.
*By the way, I do not mean start decorating for Christmas earlier. Advent is a distinct season that has a more sober and watchful character, yet still full of expectant joy. Christmas, traditionally celebrated for 40 days also (from Dec. 25th to Feb. 2nd, Candlemas), is the time for Christmas trees and decorations, feasting and celebrations. There are still ways to decorate for Advent though, with creatively using violet and rose colored fabrics as table cloths, for example, and having a smaller 'Jesse' tree that gets adorned each day with ornaments that represent stories of salvation history that lead up to the promised Savior, grow St. Lucy's Wheat, and of course, the Advent wreath.
What a beautiful, 'hour and moment' of Christmas Eve Mass last night was!
And we at least get 8 more nights of potent moments as part of the Christmas octave, and 12 if you're going by Christmastide! ;-)
That 'hour and moment' is too much to take in, all in one night, for us mere mortals. I'm so very grateful for octaves, tides, and seasons in our liturgical year to give us time to unpack, diver deeper, and savor the mysteries of our beautiful redemption!
We relive that 'hour and moment' in every Mass! (You can literally think, 'Merry Christmas' every Mass!)
It also beautifully ties in with the image of placing tender new shoots of Christmas Wheat near Jesus in our manger scenes. It's that poignant and sober reminder that our redemption was bought at a price, reflecting the length of Love's desire at hold nothing back, even being willing to be ground like wheat for us.
So, for those of us who have a hard time letting go of praying this beautiful Novena prayer, you don't have to! I usually taper down with at least one a day during Christmastide, and think of it often at Mass or during Adoration, or when I'm outside late at night and admiring the beauty of a dark starry sky. All those moments are linked for me to the mystery of the Incarnation and are great occasions to recite this prayer. (I recently heard it was a favorite of Blessed Solanus Casey's too, and that he said it daily!)
May we never tire of the wonderment and awe of that 'hour and moment'. May we even return there often in our prayer giving thanks to God our Father for His wondrous gift of Love in Jesus, through Mary.
While my Christmas Novena site starts winding down for the season until next Advent, to follow more of my work throughout the year on art and prayer, visit my new site FortheLoveofBeauty.com.
“Advent is the season of the seed” ~Caryll Houselander
One thing that always struck me as odd though, was seeing a patch of grass in a Croatian nativity scene.
I never saw that in the regular American churches. After seeing it appear each year in our local Croatian church and realizing it wasn't an accident, but rather something intentional that someone meant to include as part of the crèche scene, and even placed very near the infant Jesus, I finally asked my mother what it was. She said very matter-of-factly "It's Christmas wheat, St. Lucy's Christmas wheat." I said, "But why? It doesn't fit." I have never seen it anywhere else. Matter-of-factly, like it was common knowledge, she said "it symbolizes Jesus, He is the "new wheat."
I think I was breathless. I thought to myself, "how can I have gone this long and not have known about that?" My brain and heart were exploding. What a beautiful symbol that foreshadows both the Cross, in the crushing of the wheat to make bread, and Eucharistic bread for our spiritual food and His continued presence for us on earth.
The Cross and Christ's Eucharistic Body, represented in tender, new, spring green, shoots of wheat grass, were so powerful to contemplate next to the infant Jesus as part of the Nativity scene.
A scene that we display habitually each year to remind us of His birth, but perhaps without directly linking the fact He came to save us through dying on the cross, and was crushed, ground like wheat, for our inequities. The juxtaposition of tender, vulnerable baby Jesus, and tender, vulnerable crucified Christ is arresting, but kindly veiled in the form of tender spring wheat. It points us to the direction of Good Friday without directly taking us there just yet.
We can also ponder that the wheat will be made into food for us, as a taste of heaven, through His Body in the Eucharist. It is fitting, as well, to note that Bethlehem, Christ's birthplace, actually means house of bread. The image of wheat is beautifully reinforced in the name of that 'little town'.
So, why Saint Lucy? My mother explained (yes, very matter-of-factly), her feast day, Dec. 13th is about the two-week mark before Christmas and the seeds are planted then, so that the new shoots have enough time to grow to at least a few inches tall. I wondered if there could be more to it than that, but it was a practical enough reason at least.
From then on I was hooked and committed to hunting down winter wheat seeds each year and growing them myself and placing them at every image of Jesus in my house. I also loved finding new people to introduce to this super sweet, but rich in meaning, Croatian cultural tradition.
But it got better.
I was gut struck by the poverty of my humble gift, merely wheat. It would never be anything more than wheat -from my hands. Yet, he as a priest can take that wheat, and through the sacred words of Consecration, transform it into the very Body of Christ, that little baby we venerate in those nativity scenes.
I gave a priest simple wheat, merely the symbol of Jesus and he gives me back the actual Body of Jesus, under the appearance of wheat in the Eucharist.
What an uneven exchange!
If the priest eats my wheat, nothing changes in him, yet the Bread of Life he gives me divinizes me.
Is this not how we need to view the spiritual life and our relationship with Christ?
I, in my own mere mortal self, have nothing, and can be nothing without Him. His very Spirit is keeping me in existence with every breath I take. Without His Life, I have no life.
So, what can I possibly give Jesus as a gift?
Just myself, as I am.
I have no merit, really, that was not somehow His to begin with. He wants me to see myself as simple, limited wheat. Limited, which is my actual human nature, and then hand that limited nature back over to Him, so that He can make me divine. It's a daily miracle that I didn't merit, and yet, He freely gives it.
And even more surprisingly, more divine grace is given to us the more we see ourselves as merely plain, limited wheat. It's our awareness of our limitation that creates the space for the grace. The greater the awareness, the greater the grace.
As St. Paul says, "I boast in my weakness... for when I am weak, I am strong". [2 Cor 12:10]
My takeaway from that Christmas day was: come as you are and be eager to surrender the poverty within you.
There is no shame or weakness in acknowledging the poverty within me, it's actually what He wants from me.
It is precisely why He came. He wants to take and transform our poverty. It's the very reason why we celebrate the nativity of Jesus.
I don't need to prove myself worthy before I let myself come to Him, whether to the stable or to the Cross. I can never 'make myself' worthy. That's what He does.
He came in that blessed 'hour and moment' so that He can take us one day into His very flesh, nice and secure, as He returns us to the Father.
That's what I saw in the Christmas wheat.
Like the boy with five loaves and two fish, it's a humbling, uneven exchange.
*I have since learned that other European countries as well have a tradition of planting Christmas wheat with variations of meaning and interesting stories of miraculous events associated with it. If this was part of your Christmas tradition, please do share your stories!
Tips on How to Grow your own Christmas Wheat
Many blessings to you as you meditate on this special devotion!
Christmas Novena and Advent Updates
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