Collect: O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, on God, world without end. Amen.”
Saints Days and Other Observances:
Monday, December 17: O Antiphons Begin: Since at least the 6th century, the “Great O” Antiphons are traditional verses added to the singing of the Magnificat. They each center around one of the names given to the Messiah in the book of Isaiah. And, the first letter of each name creates an acrostic “E-R-O-C-R-A-S,” a Latin phrase that means “Tomorrow, I will be there.” This Advent booklet contains prayers for the O Antiphons. And, you can also print out these O Antiphon Ornaments. To listen to the chants, go here on Prime Music or Spotify to listen to Gregorian Chants (Advent) by Cantarte Regensburg.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, December 19, 21-22: Advent Ember Days
“The Ember Days are set aside by the Church as a way to mark the passage of seasons through prayer and fasting. As you may suspect, this happens four times a year: in winter, after the feast of St. Lucy; in spring, after Ash Wednesday; in summer, after Pentecost Sunday; and in fall, after Holy Cross Day. An old English rhyme states: “Fasting days and Emberings be / Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.”
In Latin, these days are called Quatour Tempora (Four Times). The word “Ember Days” is from the Anglo-Saxon ymbren, a circuit or revolution (from ymb, around, and ryne, a course, running). Folk etymology claims that the source of “ember” comes from “may ye remember,” that is, remember the cycle of death and life.
The earliest mention of the Ember Days is found in the writings of Philastrius, the bishop of Brescia, who died in 387 AD. However, Leo the Great (440-461) called the fasts an apostolic institution.” Read more here.
Check out this article from Anglican Pastor on How to Practice a Calendar Fast; the Ember Days would be a good time to purposefully set aside time for worship and prayer, as the article recommends.
Friday, December 21: St. Thomas the Apostle
When Eusebius, the great church historian, discussed the apostles in his monumental history, he explained that in the Twelve, there were actually three disciples named “Judas:” Judas Iscariot, a little-known Judas called the brother of Jesus, and a third Judas called “the twin” to avoid confusion. This twin or “Didymus” was the man whom we know as Saint Thomas. While the synoptic Gospels only include his name, St. John’s Gospel gives us a picture of Saint Thomas. In John 11:16, when Jesus states his intention to go to Bethlehem to heal Lazarus (and put his life thereby in danger), Thomas faithfully declares “Let us also go that we may die with him.” In John 14:5-6, When Jesus says he would “go and prepare a place for you;” Thomas responds “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way?” And, most famously, after Easter, when Thomas doubts the resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples and has Thomas touch his wounds, to which Thomas responds: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:17-28) Tradition has it that Thomas carried the Gospel to India. One legend says that a king tried to force Thomas to worship the sun god. Thomas said, “I will kneel before the idol of your god, and if the idol is not destroyed when I kneel, I will make sacrifice to him.” Thomas then knelt, prayed in Hebrew, and the idol melted! He was killed after converting and baptizing the wife and son of a pagan king. (I love this poem from Malcolm Guite about Thomas).
Hymns for the Week:
December 16: Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming
December 17: O Come, O Come Emmanuel
December 18: The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns
December 20: Hills of the North, Rejoice
December 21: O Come, Divine Messiah
- The O Antiphons start tomorrow — if you are interested in printing out these ornaments!
- New post on Why We Love Christmas Music: “Our Christmas music tradition is a glimpse of the musical culture that used to exist all the year round. Because we have mostly lost this musical culture, in exchange for constant new music made to be consumed and then discarded, we’ve also lost a way of being in community.”
- Do you know the poem by T.S. Eliot, The Cultivation of Christmas Trees? If not, make haste to click that link!
- Not a Homely link, but have you listened to the album Advent at Ephesus from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles (listen on Prime Music or Spotify)? I have been listening to this album for the past several years, but just now learned their story
A Gift Suggestion: Bley’s Book!
Are you addicted to buying insightful quotes surrounded by beautiful wreaths of watercolor flowers? Is your inbox flooded with etsy receipts? Does your husband ask you, do we really need that other C.S. Lewis quote on our gallery wall? Well, let me tell you, I have a solution. Learn how to illustrate those insightful quotes yourself through buying Bley Hack’s new book from colorways: Watercolor Flowers!. (Bley is responsible for most of the printables on our website and we are so excited about her book!)