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.
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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.