Today is St. Martin's Day.
Did you know that traditionally there was an earlier kick off date to Advent, the time of preparation for the festivities of Christmas, similar to the 40ish days of Lent before Easter? It was called St. Martin’s Lent.
It started after the big feast of St. Martin of Tours (think Mardi Gras), on November 11 called Martinmas. The season that followed shared the same penitential colors of Lent (violet/rose), though not quite with the same somber tone, it was still marked with the usual fasts and abstinence as a way of preparing one’s soul for the coming of the Christ Child. Today, the time we know as Advent, has been shortened to roughly 4 weeks before Christmas.
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.
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