Advent Devotionals

Monday, December 23

O Antiphon: O Emmanuel


O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.


O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

The time of Jesus Christ’s birth is near. How will we meet him? Today and tomorrow, ponder what his arrival will mean for you. Is it the same old story? Or will it be different this time? Think about what makes this Christmas different for you and your loved ones.

Sunday, December 22

Today’s Antiphon: O Rex Gentium


O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.


O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

We await the coming a King unlike any other. As the Son of God Jesus Christ also the One who made us. Thus our Creator comes to be with us, to help us fulfill our destiny as children of peace.

Saturday, December 21

The “O” Antiphons are traditionally sung in the last week of Advent, usually in the evening. Each refers to a title of Jesus Christ and Isaiah’s prophecy. They are short but meaningful prayers that help us prepare for the imminent birth of our Lord.


O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.


O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Friday, December 20

 Hebrews 10:23-25

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The 12th century monk, Bernard of Clairvaux, noted in one of his sermons that the coming of Christ is threefold: 

First, Advent marks his past coming in Bethlehem. 

Second, Advent looks ahead to Christ’s future coming at the end of time. 

Third, Christ also comes to us in the present, coming to us in spirit and power as God’s love is poured into our hearts. Our reading from Hebrews describes for us a picture of how Christ comes to us now: in the gathered community that is fed by the Word of God, sustained by prayer and empowered by the Holy Spirit to acts of love and mercy. Later, in Chapter 13, these acts of love and mercy take on greater specificity: “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers. Remember those who are in prison … (and) those who are being tortured” (Hebrews 13:1-3). 

As we receive Christ’s Advent, may we continue to encourage one another in “love and good deeds” (Hebrew s 10:24).

Thursday, December 19

A Prayer for the Evening

Oh, Jesus, you hold the key that will unlock my constricted heart. It gives me great hope that Mary said yes to you and your plan. She was filled with the Spirit and put aside her own doubts.

I know you are ready to answer my prayers, ease my doubts and calm my fears. Sometimes I don’t hear your messengers because they aren’t what I expect. They aren’t wearing wings or halos but are the people standing in front of me. 

How many times have I not listened? How often have I balked at your messages and your messengers? Fill me with the light of your Spirit and enter, in all your glory into my life. Let me rejoice! 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Wednesday, December 18

Matthew 1:18-23

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”


When it comes to telling the Christmas story, Joseph often seems to be standing on the sidelines while Mary, the baby Jesus, the shepherds and even the angels receive most of the attention in pageants and carols. Even the account of Christ’s birth from Joseph’s perspective as found in the Gospel of Matthew gets little airtime on Christmas Eve. Why? Perhaps because it’s so very ordinary. In Matthew’s account there’s no real dramatic or spectacular moment—no starry skies filled with angels singing praises to God while open-mouthed shepherds in the fields look up in fear and amazement. Rather, in a very matter-of-fact way, Matthew tells a story of ordinary people facing decisions involving their religious traditions and laws, their relationship and their community.

This is the power and beauty of Emmanuel, “God with us.” The birth of Jesus, our Emmanuel, means God’s full and complete immersion into human life. God meets us in the ordinary places and situations of life, even in its complicated and sometimes messy details. Everyday human existence has now become the arena for God’s ongoing presence and activity. In what ordinary acts and places will God’s presence be made known among us this day?

Tuesday, December 17

A Prayer for the Evening

Oh, Adonai, dearest Lord, Compassionate God of justice, so many areas of my life seem imprisoned but you promise me real freedom and peace in my life.

Renew my spirit and free my soul. Please, open my heart which you have bathed in the longing of Advent.

I am awe-struck as your glory fills the earth and I want to follow you in caring for others.

Grant me the grace to see how you shine your light on the poor who have such a special place in your heart.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Monday, December 16

Isaiah 2:2-5

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plows, and their spears into pruning knives; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob” (Isaiah 2:3). The prophet Isaiah declares Zion to be the destination for all nations and people as they stream toward God’s holy place. There they are schooled in the ways of the Lord. The first school project has the people turning their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. This is a vision of perfect peace that Isaiah describes for us, a time when instruments of death are turned into implements for life and when nations no longer study war anymore. 

The prophet’s words are still compelling. They are so expressive of our deepest yearnings that they have become a vision for all God’s children. Engraved on a wall near the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, Isaiah’s words stand to inspire the work of the nations of the world. Thousands of years later, this dream of God remains alive. This Advent, may we learn ever more deeply God’s ways of peace.

Sunday, December 15

A Prayer for the Day

I lift my heart up to you, Lord, to thank you for the blessings you shower on me each day.

You are the ‘joy of my soul.’ I know that in your great love, I am held and protected by you. 

I pray and listen to the good news you send; I ask and feel the healing. I am freed by you from the things in this world that let me hide from you. 

I rejoice, I rejoice, down to my soul. Help me to prepare my heart to be open and able to receive your immense love.

Saturday, December 14

Psalm 63:1-7

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name. My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

The singing continues. In Psalm 63 we have a song of desire: “O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you.” The Jesuit priest and author, James Martin, has described Advent as the season of desire because it is a time when we are “encouraged to wait, to anticipate, to expect, to long, to hope—in short, to desire.” To speak of desire could make us uncomfortable. It may sound too carnal or selfish. But the desire that marks Advent is a desire created and formed by God—a longing for reconciliation, a hope for peace and an expectation of justice. Most of all, Advent nurtures our deep desire for God’s presence in our lives. The words of the 5th century Christian bishop Augustine ring true: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord.” In these days of desire, may we come to know more deeply our longing for God as we await the coming of Christ.

Friday, December 13

A Prayer for the Day

Jesus, in the darkness of these Advent nights let me be guided by the light of your word. Give me the humility to be led by you and the wisdom to learn from you.

I feel your light in my life and in the world. I am grateful for the Savior who awaits us, and eagerly await the time of rejoicing.

Let me look forward in hope and turn to you with great trust, knowing you will guide my steps along the unknown path of this day.

Thursday, December 12

John 1:19-23:

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ” as the prophet Isaiah said.

In religious art, wherever John the Baptist and Jesus appear in the same painting, it is almost certain that John the Baptist will be portrayed with his index finger extended, pointing at Jesus. That’s who John is. He’s a witness, always pointing to Jesus. John is very clear about who he is and who he’s not. “I am not the Messiah. I am not Elijah. I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” ( John 1:20-23). John’s role as one who points to Jesus is also our role as Christians. We are called to be witnesses to Christ, testifying to the world how God has come to us in the flesh to bring peace, reconciliation and hope. As Christians, we are always to be on the lookout for any sign or piece of evidence pointing to how God in Christ is present in the world. And whenever we see these signs and evidence, we point to them for all the world to see.

Wednesday, December 11

A Prayer for the Day in celebration of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to Juan Diego

Jesus,  I can see your special love of those who are so often invisible in this world.

You sent your mother to give hope to the poor by appearing to Juan Diego.

Open my heart to fill with compassion for those who are hungry and without dignity.

Grant me the ability to live simply and to see you in the faces of those around me.

In the darkness of these Advent nights let me be guided by the light of your word.

Give me the humility to be led by you and the wisdom to learn from you.

I am grateful for the Savior who awaits us, and eagerly await the time of rejoicing.

Let me look forward in hope and turn to you with great trust, knowing you will guide my steps along the unknown path of this day.

Tuesday, December 10

Today we try an idea suggested by the Christian writer Rachel Held Evans:

Instead of a Scripture recitation and reflection or general prayer, just think of someone you know. This person may be in special need, or they may be someone you admire who works in a helping profession, social organization or charity. Or maybe they are just someone who has been on your mind lately.

Pray for that person. Think of the ways in which they have touched your life and heart, and what you may ask God to do for them in return. Better yet, ask God and yourself what you may do for them! If you see them regularly, considering doing something nice for them in the next few days.

Monday, December 9

A Prayer for the Day

God of Strength, I need your courage. You offer to make firm the knees that are weak. Only you know how frightened I so often am.

And you do offer me strength. There is the promise of your Son’s coming and knowing that you will save me.

I can’t do this on my own no matter how often I think I can. Give me the humility to ask for your help and open heart to accept your healing and love in my life.

Sunday, December 8

A Prayer for the Day

Dear Lord,

Through the darkness, I look for your wisdom. I want my heart to be open to you. But sometimes in these days, it seems that so many things come between us.

Help me to be awake and aware of the radiance you bring to my life.

Help me to be grateful each day for the blessings of family and friends.

Let me be a peacemaker in my own life, and in the world.

Let me pray especially for this difficult world and those who are so in need of an end to violence.

My heart begs for this as my Advent prayer today.

Saturday, December 7

Psalm 27:1-2; 13-14

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh – my adversaries and foes – they shall stumble and fall. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

This song of confident praise stirs the heart: Be of good courage! This is not a sentimental tune based on wishful thinking but a melody arising from the land of the living that captures us with its beauty and passion. As we learn to sing this song, we learn what it means to wait with expectant hope, trusting in God’s deliverance, not as some future event off in the distance, but living with an awareness of God’s caring presence with us right now. God, our Emmanuel, is always ready to come to us. In this season of Advent, may this song of courage and hope cultivate within us open hearts to God’s presence and activity in our midst.

Friday, December 6

A Prayer for the Day

Jesus, protector, I long for your coming. The promise of new light is there if only I can believe.

Protect me from dangers and lead me through the gloom and darkness to the joy I so long to find in you.

Lift me from my lowly sins and give me the promise of salvation with no more shame, only the light and saving grace of your love.

Let the ancient dream be fulfilled in you and peace come to this life and world.

Thursday, December 5

Lamentations 3:25-26

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Waiting often seems to be a waste of our time. Whether it is standing behind a line of people, being stuck in traffic or anticipating test results, waiting is not a very appealing activity, and certainly not productive. There’s a story about a group of Jewish students who were diligently preparing to become rabbis. Day after day they read and studied the scriptures, pored over various interpretations of the law and prayed regularly together and on their own. One day their teacher told them, “Full experiences of God can never be planned or achieved. They are spontaneous moments of grace, almost accidental.” His students couldn’t believe what they were hearing. One of the students asked, “ Rabbi, if experiencing God is just accidental, why do we work so hard doing all these spiritual practices?” The rabbi replied, “So that we may be as accident-prone as possible.” Through worship and prayer that accompany the season of Advent, we are making ourselves as accident-prone as possible to the coming of God in our midst.

Wednesday, December 4

A Prayer for the Day:

Lord of all, you are a God of plenty, a Lord who provides for us in our need.

As I begin these early days of Advent help me to believe that you know what I need.

Give me the courage to listen to your voice and the freedom to open my heart to the graces you are offering me to place my trust in you.

Tuesday, December 3

Isaiah 64:1-4

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil – to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.

There is urgency in the prophet’s cry for God’s advent. Cosmic powers and principalities along with the warring nations of this world fight against God’s ways. A divine reckoning is called for. The prophet wants deliverance—and deliverance now—from these enemies of God! And yet the ways of God in bringing about redemption are unexpected. God certainly does awesome deeds that we could not expect. God comes to us as a child, a baby born in obscurity. God comes to us in the crucified body of the Messiah. Indeed, God’s power is made perfect in weakness and overcomes the forces of evil in this world with the power of love.

Monday, December 2

A Prayer for the Day

Loving God,

I sense that all is your creation
and everything, and all of us,
are being drawn back toward your loving

Help me to be a person of peace,
to speak about it in an uneasy world, 
and to live it among the people 

you have put into my life every day.

Light in me a desire to prepare for your
to stand in the darkness, waiting, eager and
filled with joy.

Sunday, December 1

“As the Dark Awaits the Dawn”

by Susan Palo Cherwien and Carl F. Schalk

“As the dark awaits the dawn,

so we await your light.

O star of promise, scatter night,

loving bright, loving bright,

till shades of fear are gone.”

It is an increasingly rare experience these days to find oneself immersed in enough darkness to be able to see the stars in the sky. More and more of us live in cities and towns where bright lights shine round the clock upon our streets and buildings. In our homes, the glare of computer screens and personal electronic devices reflect on our faces as we keep ourselves busy with both work and play. We may hope these lights would shield us from experiencing darkness where fears and anxieties reside, but they also often keep us from seeing the Advent star of promise. As we enter this season of Advent, we are invited to to enter the darkness that surrounds us and await God’s coming. May this season rekindle our deep desire for the true light that can scatter our fears.