BLESSING RITUALS FOR ADVENT  
Shorter Book of Blessings

(The following texts give only those elements applicable to a lay celebration)


Advent Wreath

Short Form

Manger Scene

Short Form

Christmas Tree

Short Form


ORDER FOR THE BLESSING OF AN ADVENT WREATH

First Sunday of Advent

INTRODUCTION

928 The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent. The blessing may be celebrated during Mass (see complete edition, nos. 1517-1520), a celebration of the word of God, or Evening Prayer.

929 Customarily the Advent Wreath is constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which are inserted four candles. According to tradition, three of the candles are violet and the fourth is rose. However, four violet or white candles may also be used.

930 The candles represent the four weeks of Advent and the number of candles lighted each week corresponds to the number of the current week of Advent. The rose candle is lighted on the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday.

931 When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family; the shorter rite may appropriately be used for this purpose.

932 When the Advent Wreath is used in the home, the opening prayer of the Sunday Mass is recited when the candles are lighted. The lighting of the candles may be preceded or followed by an Advent hymn and a Scripture reading. The lighting of the Advent Wreath may fittingly be included as a part of the evening meal.

933 The Advent Wreath may be blessed by a priest, deacon, or a lay minister.


I. ORDER OF BLESSING OF THE WREATH WITHIN A CELEBRATION OF THE WORD OF GOD

934 The present order may be used by a priest or a deacon, and also by a layperson, who follows the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister.

 

INTRODUCTORY RITES

935 When the community has gathered, the minister says:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit

All make the sign of the cross and reply:

R. Amen.

937 A lay minister greets those present in the following words:

Let us praise God, who enlightens every heart, now and for ever.

R. Amen.

938 in the following or similar words, the minister prepares those present for the blessing.

My brothers and sisters, today we begin the season of Advent we open our hearts to God's love as we prepare to welcome Christ into our lives and homes. The candles of this wreath remind us that Jesus Christ came to conquer the darkness of sin and to lead us into the light of his glorious kingdom.

 

READING OF THE WORD OF GOD

939 A reader, another person present, or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture.

Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah: 9:1-2, 5-6

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils. For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David's throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains. By judgment and justice, both now and forever.

940 Or:

Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7 -- You, Lord, are our redeemer.

Jeremiah 33:14-16 -- I will cause a good seed to spring forth from David.

1 John 1:5-7 -- God is light, walk in the light

Matthew 1:1 8-25 -- The birth of Jesus.

 

941 As circumstances suggest, one of the following responsorial psalms may be sung, or some other suitable song.

R. (v. 2) O Lord, our Lord, make us turn to you, and we shall be saved.

Psalm 80

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
O guide of the flock of Joseph!
From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.    Response.

Once again, O Lord of hosts, look down from heaven, and see; Take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted, the son of man whom you yourself made strong. Response.

May your help be with the man of your right hand, with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you; give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
Response.

[or]

Psalm 8:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-9

R. (v. 2) 0 Lord, our Lord, how great is your name over all the earth.

 

942 As circumstances suggest, the minister may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text, so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration.

 

INTERCESSIONS

943 The intercessions are then said. The minister introduces them and an assisting minister or one of those present announces the intentions. From the following those best suited to the occasion may be used or adapted, or other intentions that apply to the particular circumstances may be composed.

The minister says:

Christ came to bring us salvation and has promised to come again. Let us pray that we may be always ready to welcome him.

R. Come, Lord Jesus.

Assisting minister:

That the keeping of Advent may open our hearts to God's love, we pray to the Lord. R.

Assisting minister:

That the light of Christ may penetrate the darkness of sin, we pray to the Lord. R.

Assisting minister:

That this wreath may constantly remind us to prepare for the coming of Christ, we pray to the Lord.R

Assisting minister:

That the Christmas season may fill us with peace and joy as we strive to follow the example of Jesus, we pray to the Lord. R.

 

944 After the intercessions the minister, in the following or similar words, invites all present to sing or say the Lord's Prayer.

With longing for the coming of God's kingdom, let us offer our prayer to the Father:

All:

Our Father ...

 

PRAYER OF BLESSING

945 A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

Lord God,
your Church joyfully awaits the coming of its Savior,
who enlightens our hearts and dispels the darkness of ignorance and sin.

Pour forth your blessings upon us as we light the candles of this wreath;
may their light reflect the splendor of Christ, who is Lord, for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

 

946 Or:

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ's promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

The first candle is lighted.

 

CONCLUDING RITE

948 A lay minister concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:

May the light of Christ lead us to the joy of his kingdom, now and for ever.

R. Amen.

949 it is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song.


II ADVENT WREATH - SHORTER RITE

950 All make the sign of cross as the minister says:

Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All reply:

Who made heaven and earth.

 

951 One of those present or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example:

Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah: 9:1-2, 5-6

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing,
As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful,
From David's throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains
By judgment and justice, both now and forever.

952 A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

Lord God,
your Church joyfully awaits the coming of its Savior, who enlightens our hearts and dispels the darkness of ignorance and sin.

Pour forth your blessings upon us as we light the candles of this wreath;
may their light reflect the splendor of Christ, who is Lord, for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

953 Or:

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ's promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

 


ORDER FOR THE BLESSING OF A CHRISTMAS MANGER OR NATIVITY SCENE

INTRODUCTION

954 in its present form the custom of displaying figures depicting the birth of Jesus Christ owes its origin to Saint Francis of Assisi who made the Christmas creche or manger for Christmas eve of 1223. However, as early as the fourth century representations of the nativity of the Lord were painted as wall decorations depicting not only the infancy narrative accounts of Christ's birth, but also the words of the prophets Isaiah and Habakkuk taken to mean that the Messiah would be born in the midst of animals in a manger.

955 The blessing of the Christmas manger or nativity scene, according to pastoral circumstances, may take place on the Vigil of Christmas or at another more suitable time.

956 The blessing may be given during a celebration of the word of God, during Mass (see complete edition, nos. 1562-1564), or even during another service, e.g., a carol service.

957 When the manger is set up in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another family member; the shorter rite may be used for this purpose.

A form of this rite is also found in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.

958 The blessing maybe given by a priest, deacon, or a lay minister


I. ORDER OF BLESSING OF THE MANGER WITHIN A CELEBRATION OF THE WORD OF GOD

959 The present order may be used by a priest or a deacon, and also by a layperson, who follows the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister.

 

INTRODUCTORY RITES

960 When the community has gathered, a suitable song may be sung. After the singing, the minister says:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All make the sign of the cross and reply:

Amen.

962 A lay minister greets those present in the following words:

Praised be Jesus Christ, who dwells among us, now and for ever.

R. Amen

963 in the following or similar words, the minister prepares those present for the blessing.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we pause to bless this Christmas manger scene. The practice of erecting such mangers was begun by Saint Francis of Assisi as a means to set forth the message of Christmas.

When we look upon these figures, the Christmas gospel comes alive and we are moved to rejoice in the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God.

 

READING OF THE WORD OF GOD

964 A reader, another person present, or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture.

Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Luke: 2:1-8

The birth of Jesus.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes And laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.

965 Or:

Isaiah 7:10-15 --Birth of Emmanuel.

 

966 As circumstances suggest, the following responsorial psalm may be sung, or some other suitable song.

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Psalm 89

"I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations."
R.

Happy the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance,
O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day, and through your justice they are exalted.
R.

"He shall say of me, 'You are my father, my God, the Rock, my savior.' R.

"Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him, and my covenant with him stands firm." R.

967 As circumstances suggest, the minister may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text, so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration.

 

INTERCESSIONS

968 The intercessions are then said. The minister introduces them and an assisting minister or one of those present announces the intentions. From the following those best suited to the occasion may be used or adapted, or other intentions that apply to the particular circumstances may be composed.

The minister says:

Let us ask for God's blessing on this Christmas manger and upon ourselves, that we who reflect on the birth of Jesus may share in the salvation he accomplished.

R. Come, Lord, dwell with us.

Assisting minister:

For the Church of God, as we recall the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ, that we may always proclaim his gift of new life for all people, we pray to the Lord. R.

Assisting minister:

For the world in which we live, that it may come to recognize Christ who was greeted by the angels and shepherds, we pray to the Lord. R

Assisting minister:

For our families and our homes, that Christ who was laid in the manger may dwell with us always, we pray to the Lord. R.

Assisting minister:

For parents, that their love for their children may be modeled on that of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, we pray to the Lord. R.

969 After the intercessions the minister, in the following or similar words, invites all present to sing or say the Lord's Prayer.

Let us pray as our Lord Jesus Christ taught us:

All:

Our Father ...

 

PRAYER OF BLESSiNG

970 A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

God of every nation and people, from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love: when our need for a Savior was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy, and love.

Lord, bless all who look upon this manger; may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise up our thoughts to him, who is God-with-us and Savior of all, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

972 A lay minister concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:

May Christ our God enlighten our hearts and minds, now and for ever.

R. Amen.

973 It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song.


II. MANGER - SHORTER RITE

974 This rite is especially appropriate for use when the blessing takes place in the home and is given by a family member.

975 All make the sign of the cross as the minister says:

Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All reply:

Who made heaven and earth.

976 One of those present or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example:

Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Luke: 2:1-8

The birth of Jesus.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.

977 Or:

Isaiah 7:10-15 -- The birth of Emmanuel,

978 A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

God of every nation and people,
from the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love:
when our need for a Savior was great you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary.
To our lives he brings joy and peace, justice, mercy, and love.

Lord,
bless all who look upon this manger,
may it remind us of the humble birth of Jesus, and raise up our thoughts to him,
who is God-with-us and Savior of all, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.


ORDER FOR THE BLESSING OF A CHRISTMAS TREE

INTRODUCTION

979 The use of the Christmas tree is relatively modern. Its origins are found in the medieval mystery plays which depicted the tree of paradise and the Christmas light or candle which symbolized Christ, the Light of the world.

980 According to custom, the Christmas tree is set up just before Christmas and may remain in place until the solemnity of Epiphany. Although the primary place for the Christmas tree is the home, at times one or more may also be placed in the church. in such a case, the decoration of the trees should be appropriate to their use in the church, and care should be taken that they do not interfere with the requirements of the liturgical space.

981 The Christmas tree may be blessed on or before Christmas during a celebration of the word of God, or during Morning or Evening Prayer.

If the blessing is celebrated during Morning or Evening Prayer, it takes place after the gospel canticle. The intercessions, Lord's Prayer, and prayer of blessing replace the intercessions and concluding prayer of Morning or Evening Prayer.

982 The lights of the tree are illuminated after the prayer of blessing.

983 in the home the Christmas tree maybe blessed by a parent or another family member, in connection with the evening meal on the Vigil of Christmas or at another suitable time on Christmas Day; the shorter rite may be used for this purpose

984 These orders maybe used by a priest or a deacon, and also by a layperson, who follows the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister.


I. ORDER OF BLESSING OF A CHRISTMAS TREE

INTRODUCTORY RITES

985 When the community has gathered, a suitable song may be sung. After the singing, the minister says:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All make the sign of the cross and reply:

Amen.

987 A lay minister greets those present in the following words:

Let us glorify Christ our light, who brings salvation and peace into our midst, now and for ever.

988 in the following or similar words, the minister prepares those present for the blessing.

My brothers and sisters,
amidst signs and wonders Christ Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea: his birth brings joy to our hearts and enlightenment to our minds. With this tree, decorated and adorned, may we welcome Christ among us; may its lights guide us to the perfect light.

 

READING OF THE WORD OF GOD

989 A reader, another person present, or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture.

Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the apostle Paul to Titus: 3:4-7

His own compassion saved us.

But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

990 Or:

Genesis 2:4-9 --The tree of life in the center of the garden.

Isaiah 9:1-6 --A son is given to us

Ezekiel 17:22-24 --I will plant a tender shoot on the mountain heights of Israel.

 

991 As circumstances suggest, the following responsorial psalm may be sung, or some other suitable song.

R. Christ comes to enlighten us.

Psalm 96

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
announce his salvation, day after day.
R.

Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised; awesome is he, beyond all gods.
R.

For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty go before him; praise and grandeur are in his sanctuary.
R.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise; give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and enter his courts; worship the LORD in holy attire. R.

Tremble before him, all the earth; say among the nations: The LORD is king. He has made the world firm, not to be moved; he governs the peoples with equity. R.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the LORD, for he comes; for he comes to rule the earth. R.

He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy. R.

992 As circumstances suggest, the minister may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text, so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration.

 

INTERCESSIONS

993 The intercessions are then said. The minister introduces them and an assisting minister or one of those present announces the intentions. From the following those best suited to the occasion may be used or adapted, or other intentions that apply to the particular circumstances may be composed.

The minister says:

Let us ask God to send his blessing upon us and upon this sign of our faith in the Lord.

R. Lord, give light to our hearts.

Assisting minister:

That the Church may always reflect the joy of Jesus Christ who enlightens our hearts, let us pray to the Lord. R.

Assisting minister:

That this tree of lights may remind us of the tree of glory on which Christ accomplished our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. R.

Assisting minister:

That the joy of Christmas may always be in our homes, let us pray to the Lord. R.

Assisting minister:

That the peace of Christ may dwell in our hearts and in the world, let us pray to the Lord. R.

994 After the intercessions the minister, in the following or similar words, invites all present to sing or say the Lord's Prayer.

With confident faith let us pray as Christ taught us:

All:

Our Father ...

 

PRAYER OF BLESSiNG

995 A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

Lord our God,
we praise you for the light of creation:
the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.
We praise you for the light of Israel:
the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace, who fills us with the wonder of your love.

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree. May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

996 Or:

Holy Lord, we come with joy to celebrate the birth of your Son, who rescued us from the darkness of sin by making the cross a tree of life and light.

May this tree, arrayed in splendor, remind us of the life-giving cross of Christ, that we may always rejoice in the new life that shines in our hearts.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

 

The candles or lights of the tree are then illuminated.

997 During the illumination of the tree, the cantor or another minister leads the congregation in singing the following acclamations to Christ, or some other suitable hymn, such as "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary.

R. We welcome you, O Lord.

Lord Jesus, hope of the shepherds and the poor.

R. We welcome you, O Lord.

Lord Jesus, glory of the angels.

R. We welcome you, O Lord.

 

CONCLUDING RITE

999 A lay minister concludes the rite by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying:

May the God of glory fill our hearts with peace and joy, now and for ever.

R. Amen.

1000 It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song.


II. CHRISTMAS TREE - SHORTER RITE

1001 All make the sign of the cross as the minister says:

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

All reply:

Now and for ever.

1002 One of those present or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example:

 

Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the apostle Paul to Titus: 3:4-7

His own compassion saved us.

But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

1003 Or:

Genesis 2:4-9 --The tree of life in the center of the garden.

Isaiah 9:1-6 --A son is given to us.

1004 A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

Lord our God,
we praise you for the light of creation:
the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.

We praise you for the light of Israel:
the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace,
who fills us with the wonder of your love.

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us as we illumine this tree. May the light and cheer it gives be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

1005 Or:

Holy Lord, we come with joy to celebrate the birth of your Son, who rescued us from the darkness of sin by making the cross a tree of life and light.

May this tree, arrayed in splendor, remind us of the life-giving cross of Christ, that we may always rejoice in the new life that shines in our hearts.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.


Excerpted from the Shorter Book of Blessings (NY: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1990). Approved for use in the United States by the USCCB and the Holy See. The Shorter Book of Blessings is an abbreviated version of the Book of Blessings, which translates the Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus. Both the Book of Blessings and the Shorter Book of Blessings are available from USCCB Publishing (1-800-235-8722).


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