The Rules for St. Nicholas Day GIVEAWAY are:
Enter your first and last name and valid email in the form below. This is necessary in order to contact the winner and coordinate shipping.
Giveaway, in honor of St. Nicholas, will be open for entries from Dec 6 through to Dec 12, the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, at midnight HST.
**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/or emails would need to match the official entry form submission in order to be counted twice. I would love to hear what your favorite prayer beads design is, especially as I plan to make new ones soon. Want to know more about the inspiration behind the designs? See my explanations of the symbols I used for these prayer beads.
Giveaway open only for entrants with valid USA mailing addresses for shipping purposes.
The winner of the bracelet, that honors Our Lady of Guadalupe's sign of roses, will be announced on Dec 13, St Lucy's day. The winner will receive an email informing them of their win and must respond via email within 48 hours to claim their prize. Be sure to check your spam folder for email from Christmas Novena!
Shipping will be within 1-2 days of hearing from the winner and will be shipped for free via USPS Priority Mail.
Good Luck and Happy St Nicholas Day! Do share with your friends!
***Bonus $7 SAVINGS open to all within USA: Use COUPON code: HILLTOP while supplies last. However, NO purchase is necessary to enter giveaway. This is just an extra offer in case you didn't win, but would still like to get in on a deal for yourself, or gift prayer beads to a loved one for Christmas. Browse prayer beads here. So that you can be St Nicholas for someone else, your $7 savings will be matched and donated to Hilltop Children's House, that provides beautiful Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Montessori programs for the very diverse and often distressed neighborhoods of Steubenville, Ohio.
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Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
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I have often been intrigued by different representations of the nativity star, particularly between the European nativity scene (often called the presepe or presepio by the Italians) and depictions more commonly found in the United States.
In Europe today, the version of the star of Bethlehem most often appears a comet streaking across the sky. (This is most likely due to paintings of the nativity by the Italian artist Giotto where he likely was painting Halley's Comet that had recently appeared in the sky in the 1300's.* It would have been very striking and still fresh in their minds, and so a logical visual to meditate on linking their seeking hearts and minds with that of the Magi.) In America, the nativity star most often appears as stationary star or north star with it's tail pointing straight down.
With a fondness for the 'star in motion' version, I chose the European version of the star for the majority of my prayer beads, perhaps subconsciously. Later, a dear friend (named Maria, providentially, and runs an amazing Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program!) explained to me as she teaches her students that the comet star, which is in motion, is the Advent star precisely because it is moving and leading us towards Bethlehem, so it is a fitting visual while praying this novena. The stationary star means it's already Christmas.
What a great way to enter deeper into the symbolism of both the star in motion and the star that 'stopped and stayed'. "After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was." [Mt 2:9 NAB]
So, while we are in Advent and praying this novena, let us focus on the 'star' that is guiding us to Bethlehem. Let's be intentional about what and who are our 'stars' or lights that guide us are, and not be fooled by all things that are shinny and distracting us from staying on the most direct route to Bethlehem.
Let us practice periods of silence to attune our ears to listen for the angels singing 'Glory to God in the Highest'.
Today, we providentially have the Feast of St. Andrew that kicks off this beautiful season prayer. In today's gospel, after we hear the invitational words of Jesus to follow Him, Andrew left his fisherman's nets and followed. Let St. Andrew also be another light and an example this Advent of how to 'drop our nets' to follow Christ and even invite others along on this journey of seeking out the Christ Child.
As always though, the brightest light that leads us to Christ is the queen of all the saints, Mary, our mother, who is often referred to as a star (as in the Stella Maris). We have no surer guide than that of whom the Christ Child was born.
We providentially have two feast days of Mary during Advent to help us be reminded of her role in salvation history: the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, and Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec 12. These feasts remind us that she was both chosen to be the Mother of God and our mother.
Let us take her hand on this journey to Bethlehem, that she knows so well, where we are sure to meet Jesus face to face, first as a small defenses child in the manger, and then as He comes to us each day in the Eucharist as a defenseless piece of humble bread, so that we may be forever united to Him.
Join me in praying this special novena (traditionally prayed 15 times a day, but not necessarily all at once) all Advent long.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel!
For daily reminders of this prayer on Facebook, like and follow the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena and Prayer Beads page.
Have a Blessed Advent!
*A very interesting read on how Western artists were likely influenced by the appearance of Halley's Comet in 1301.
First Sunday of Advent tip - if you have a wreath or circular display of candles, light the purple candle 'opposite' the pink one, in order for the progression of time to look accurate!
It takes almost a Herculean commitment to really enter into the season of Advent well, and so it seems there needs to be a time of preparation for the 'season of preparation'.
November would be a good time to prepare for the season of Advent. Not just looking for the Advent wreath or Jesse Tree ornaments (as I remind myself now to go look for them!) or do a deep clean of the house and rid it of clutter, (yes, I really need to do that too!) but to spiritually prepare for the battle for the senses that will come bombarding in once the turkey leftovers are put away.
Amidst the worldly noise and distractions, there are even, at times, well intentioned religious themed events, like Christmas caroling and parties during Advent, that only add to the busyness of a season that would better be focused on fostering stillness and prayer.
Advent well spent would be an intentional time of quiet preparation with focused joyful anticipation for the most incredible moment in human history, when God becomes man, born of a woman, in the dead quiet of a piecing cold night.
Be distracted or exhausted with too many events and we miss how quietly and humbly Christ slips into time so He can dwell, unassumingly, on our side of the veil.
"Be still and know that I am God" [Ps 46:11 NAB] would be a great verse to mediate on daily or use as an examination of conscience.
If we have a hard time being still and quiet, what is it that robs us of our stillness, our inner peace? What do the intrusive thoughts that repeatedly barge in tell us about what preoccupies us? What is our interior clutter that we should get rid of? Often little addictions can run wild while seemingly undetected and may need to be confessed or dealt with in other deliberate ways.
The seemingly harmless preoccupations or addictions we let ourselves fall into, whether it's a compulsion to check smart phones, reaching for comfort foods or drink, addictive thinking or behaviors, constant activity... pick your poison of distraction, we all pretty much do all of these to varying degrees.
They only ultimately serve to distract us from some pain or void that we resist acknowledging and bringing to the light, so that we can let God heal and fill us with Himself. We often hear that God alone can truly satisfy us, yet why are we still so willing to be distracted?
It may be a lack of will to really dig deep and rid ourselves of the spiritual clutter. But in a way, we could also be unknowingly intoxicated on these cheap poisons, so much so that we don't even realize there is something better that will truly satisfy us and consequently don't give God the room to do His work.
Which is why I love Advent and the St. Andrew Christmas Novena so much!
Advent is a time set aside specifically to spiritually declutter and prepare to receive the Christ Child, and the poetic repetition of the Advent-long Christmas novena prayer drills that 'hour and moment' of His coming into the forefront of my mind. There's no guessing what I'm clearing the cobwebs out for.
Intentionally creating this focus and stillness in my daily life allows for more interior space for Christ to pierce through that veil, 'at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold' and enter more deeply into my life.
When I give Him more space in my interior life, He crowds out the need for those distracting poisons. I give Christ permission to reign when I give Him the space to do so.
Which is why it is so fitting that the last Sunday before Advent is the feast of Christ the King, a great preview and goal for Who to focus on during Advent.
We can also take as role models those who witnessed Christ's coming in person. The simple life of the poor shepherds sleeping in the field and keeping watch by night could see and hear uninhibited the angels message of the Savior's birth. Those who had extraordinary means, the Magi, traveled great distances to seek out the birth of a great King who was foretold by following the star. The key to finding the Christ Child is in the disposition of the heart as being free from clutter and oriented towards God, regardless of external means, as we see in both the shepherds and Wisemen.
Another reason why I love Advent so much is that it's essentially a mini retreat for refocusing on what our actual daily life is about, a joyful anticipation and preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. Advent is in a way our everyday season of life. We just set aside a specific time of year to remind ourselves that we need to be ready to receive Christ when he comes again.
Let's be intentional then, and prepare for Advent with a commitment to fostering stillness, prayer, and removing clutter from our souls, so we can better hear the angels announcing the good news, that today for us, in the city of David is born a savior, who is Christ the Lord!
Learn more about the St. Andrew Christmas Novena prayer that is prayed all Advent long and its meaning.
To purchase prayer cards or prayer beads for this novena visit the shop.
I find that there are usually two kinds of people, those who love this unique novena (that it's even their all-time favorite!) and those who have never heard of it. Would love to hear your experience!
Now you can purchase prayer cards separately, as a single card, or in quantities of 50 or 100 for convenient price breaks. (Contact me if your quantity is not available.)
Sharing a prayer card is a perfect way to introduce this novena to friends, prayer groups, or parishes.
Visit the Shop for details.
The Rules for St Nicholas Day GIVEAWAY are:
Enter your name and valid email in the form below. This is necessary in order to contact the winner and coordinate shipping.
Giveaway, in honor of St Nicholas, will be open for entries from Dec 6 through to Dec 12, the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, at midnight HST.
**Optional, after entering the Giveaway via the form below, to increase your chances by one additional entry, state your favorite prayer beads product in the comments either on this blog post or on the Giveaway post on the Facebook page. The names and/or emails would need to match the official entry form submission in order to be counted twice. I would love to hear what your favorite prayer beads design is. Want to know more about the inspiration behind the designs? See my explanations of the symbols I used for these prayer beads.
Giveaway open only for entrants with valid USA mailing addresses for shipping purposes.
***Bonus $7 SAVINGS open to all within USA: Use COUPON code: HILLTOP while supplies last, from Dec 6 through to Dec 13, the Feast of St. Lucy. However, NO purchase is necessary to enter giveaway. This is just an extra offer in case you didn't win, but would still like to get in on a deal for yourself, or gift some prayer beads to a loved one for Christmas. Browse prayer beads here. So that you can be St Nicholas for someone else, your $7 savings will be donated to Hilltop Children's House, that provides beautiful Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Montessori programs for inner city kids in Ohio.
The winner of the bracelet, that honors Our Lady of Guadalupe's sign of roses, will be announced on Dec 13, St Lucy's day. The winner will receive an email informing them of their win and must respond via email within 48 hours to claim their prize.
Shipping will be within 1-2 days of announcing the winner and will be shipped for free via USPS Priority Mail.
Good Luck and Happy St Nicholas Day! Do share with your friends!
Update Dec 13:
***We have a winner! Check your emails! Name will be announced once the prize has been claimed. Must respond to email within 48 hours of announcement email having been sent.
Entries are now closed for 2018.
Saint Andrew's feast day is today!
This feast is the marker that determines the start of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent begins on the Sunday closest to (or on) November 30th, St Andrew's feast day. That explains the first part of the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena's name. The second part simply refers to when the novena ends. On Christmas. So the longest way of saying it is: The Saint Andrew to Christmas Day Novena, but it is also known simply as the Christmas Novena for short.
It is believed to be over 100 years old, and is traditionally prayed 15 times every day, though not necessarily all at once. It may be broken up to be prayed throughout the day, such as five prayers in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
It is a simple and beautiful Advent prayer of preparation and petition by opening our hearts to both seek and to receive the Christ Child, and the salvation He brings on that cold, silent night. In that moment we can confidently ask God, with humble confidence, to grant our deepest longings.
It is piously believed that who ever says this prayer with devotion will have their prayers answered, when or how is another matter I'm sure. But this hour and moment reminds me of another potent hour and moment when a certain good thief, on a certain Good Friday, 'stole heaven'. Being acutely aware of these 'potent moments' and offering our heart's desires, in the name of those moments, seems to be a really good practice with big results.
The prayer itself is directed toward God the Father (not Saint Andrew as commonly misunderstood) and zeros in on that sacred moment when Christ, through His Blessed Mother, entered human history, and we were forever changed. The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us! So, while no one is saying to ignore or exclude Saint Andrew from our thoughts while saying this prayer, (it does begin on his feast day!) the Christmas Novena itself is actually directed toward God.
I find this to be one of the shortest and most potent prayers of all time and is my favorite, albeit non-traditional, novena. Novenas traditionally only last nine days in honor of the first novena, or time of prayer, when the embryonic Church prayerfully waited in anticipation for the decent of the Holy Spirit between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday (nine days). Our word for nine comes from the Latin word novem, which is where we get novena from. Even though the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena lasts for 25 days, it still falls within the tradition of an anticipation prayer, like that first novena to the Holy Spirit.
During the ever increasing noise and distractions of the Advent season, let this little prayer help keep our minds and hearts fixed on Christ's coming, so as to be more ready to receive Him on Christmas Day, and when He comes again.
Please share, and join me in saying this beautiful novena all Advent long, even if you just say one prayer a day, to help be reminded of that epic hour and moment!
I found that having something help me keep count to 15 with made a huge difference in staying committed to saying this prayer in its fullness, which is why I created the prayer beads for this site.
Follow me on Facebook and/or subscribe below for updates about the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena, prayer beads, and related Advent topics.
And do let me know in the comments if you are new to this novena or have been praying it a long time. I know many have their special stories of answered prayers and I would love to hear your story. Also, please feel free to simply list your prayer intentions to be included in our Novena prayers.
The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena starts in one week!
Get ready for this beautiful Advent devotion that begins on November 30th!
Review it's meaning and pick up some prayer beads for yourself or as a gift! Invite a friend to pray it with you! It shares the blessing and helps keep you on track. ;-)
20% Off Black Friday through Cyber Monday 2018
One month from today is the start of the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena!
Can't believe it's already that time! I'm surrounded by beads and want to make sure that everyone who would like to have a set of these unique and exclusive beads to aid them in praying this beautiful novena gets one in time!
So, I'm offering FREE USPS Priority Shipping on all beads, (no matter the order size!), on any orders placed now through November 16, for delivery in time for the start of the novena. Just enter code FSNov18 during checkout. Browse beads here.
I have a limited supply of certain beads and medals, so be sure to get your orders in early if you have a favorite.
If you have any special requests for designs or sizes, let me know that too, the earlier the better.
Very much looking forward to meditating on this beautiful season of hopeful expectation and praying this very calming and focusing novena! Hope you'll be able to join me!
No matter how hectic or distracted our Advent has been, let us make a conscious effort to find some stillness before the Christmas Liturgy to make a special place in our heart for Our Lord to be born anew in us.
For our last time together this year, let us pray with an open heart: Hail and blessed be...
Happy feast of St John of the Cross!
A powerful moment of beauty and inspiration for me, on a recent trip to Spain, was coming across the drawing of Christ Crucified by none other than St John of the Cross, himself! This unique image came to him during a mystical vision that he subsequently documented in this small, but remarkable work of art.
I had only ever seen it reproduced on prayer cards and book covers, and so I was both surprised and overwhelmed to see it in person. It's so much smaller than I imagined, barely a few inches at it widest!
It is preserved in a reliquary stand (with a fragment of his bone visible underneath) and sits in a glass cabinet filled with other objects and relics from St Teresa of Avila during his time as confessor at that monastery in Spain.
The image is of the moment Christ breathed His last, and the vantage point is from above, as if God the Father is looking down on the sacrifice of his Son. The feast of St John of the Cross falls during Advent and this image now will forever be associated with Advent for me, as a foreshadowing of the whole purpose of Christ's coming: in order to redeem us.
During our Christmas Novena prayer, I have been imagining God the Father looking down on the Nativity scene to witness His Son's birth, and knowing full well, the price He will pay to redeem us. What a selfless gift God has given us! What love He has for us!
For today, we too can have in the back of our mind, both images as seen from above, from God the Father's perspective, the arc from the Nativity to our Redemption in a single moment.
Hail and blessed be...