St. Andrew Christmas Novena

St. Andrew Christmas Novena

A medieval tradition, the St. Andrew Christmas Novena or Christmas Anticipation Novena beings on the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle and continues all four weeks of Advent ending on Christmas Day. This novena helps prepare us for the Birth of Our Lord. Tradition states that women used to pray this novena for a good and godly spouse.

Please, join me in praying the Christmas Anticipation Novena!

Part 1: Pride Goes Before Disaster

“Pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be humble with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.” ~ Proverbs 16: 18-19

Other than the theme of love the theme of pride dominates the majority of literature- Hubris. I learned acutely this week: Pride has no business in an intimate relationship.

St. Augustine wrote, “It was pride that changes angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” So very true. Pride enslaved us to sin and death. Humility freed us from sin and death.

S. Augustine- pride

Within a loving, intimate relationship pride ruins relationships and wrecks havoc. Pride destroys all other virtues and even other vices. Pride denies sin. Pride ultimately means an over-inflated, misplaced self reliance and rejection of our reliance on Our heavenly Father- Our Creator. Pride is like giving God the middle finger. We puff up like a petty, pouffy self-absorbed grouse. But pride makes us feel good or justified or superior. In reality, we reject God, turn ourselves into mini-gods, and reject the people we claim to love. We’re too busy loving ourselves.

Pride manifests itself in many ways within a relationship: lack of communication, resentment, abuse and control, sexual perversion like pornography or masturbation, holding a grudge, inability to think of others, lying, omitting or twisting the truth, blaming others, whining, etc.

“For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of live, or contentment, or even common sense.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

Pride isn’t the same concept as being proud. We can delight in our gifts, talents, and accomplishments barring maintaining healthy gratitude to Our Creator who bestowed us with the capacity. Pride doesn’t mean having unhealthy boundaries, being a doormat, excusing bad behavior, or refusing to cultivate a conscience that delineates between good and evil. Having convictions or a moral compass  is not automatically pride.

Pride prevents reconciliation, humility, forgiveness, freedom, and virtue. Pride tramples faith, hope, and charity (love.) Pride enslaves a person to their distortion of self reliance and prevents freedom in this life and the next. Pride snuffs out joy. Pride destroys peace. Pride prevents communion and union.

“The greatest misery does not stop Me from uniting Myself to a soul, but where there is pride, I am not there.” –St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul (1563)

I’m guilty of pride. Pride that hurts others and myself. Daily I struggle with occasions of sin and sin prompted by pride. I struggle to keep prideful behavior at bay within an intimate relationship. Pride can be sneaky too manifesting itself in unlikely manners and places.

What is the antidote to pride? Humility. Not faux humility. Authentic humility. Part 2 of this post will be an exploration of humility.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” — C.S. Lewis

The Space Between

As a child, I couldn’t have imagined the complexities and complications of my twenty-seven years of earthly existence. I had a very active and developed imagination too! As the Jesuits would say, “Life is a Journey.” After eight plus years of Jesuit education, you master the reflective, meditative tone while reminescing on the journey of life and God’s will in one’s life. Many times on this journey, I feel that I slipped into the Space Between.

St. Augustine Quote

Not only the title of an iconic Dave Matthews Band song, but a literary explanation of the middle ground, the grey area, the limbo land, the space between, etc. Etc. When an unexpected turn in an important relationship transpired, I felt thrust back into that space in between. One moment the world finally made more sense. The darkness abated, and the light shone out a bit brighter. The fears and anxieties dimished while hope and joy grew. Someone finally chose me and accepted me as I was. Then life shifted course yet again.

Yes, I trust in God. But saying I trust in God and trusting God are two separate concepts. I’m practicing the latter.

When discerning my vocation, I always felt in “the space between.” As an elementary school child, the obvious vocational path to the outside world was religious life. I spent time at convents and with dynamic religious sisters. But I knew from an early age, no religious order would accept me with my chronic physical health conditions. I spent quality time around religious orders because I recognized the intrinsic beauty and importance of consecrated life regardless of whether that was a viable vocational option for myself.

In my adult life, when religious sisters recruit me for discerning consecrated life, I can smile and laugh with gratitude while thanking them for their kind invitation. Or I ponder quietly and wryly smile when they ask whether I’ve asked God for physical healing. Mhmm.

For similar reasons that would prevent my acceptance into consecrated life, these reasons follow me into dating relationships and the vocation of marriage. These reasons cast an additional layer of gravity on the vocation of marriage and prospect of biological children. At times, I feel at odds against the vocation of marriage too. To find a man, especially an orthodox practing Catholic man with depth of character and virtue, willing to embrace those odds and grow together in love beyond those odds provides a natural filtering method. I’m attempting to sound charitable.

Some may mention the generous single vocational option which I live now. The Spirit still seems to be moving me in a different direction. Jesus, I trust in you.

Today I feel like I’m floating yet again in that space between. The certainites and possibilites of yesterday don’t exist or not in the same manner today. The hope of tomorrow gleams. For now I’ll float on the ocean of God’s mercy. Hoping and trusting the boat will be guided to safe havens no longer adrift in the space between.