Upcoming Events View All
10
Card Party

Tuesday, 12/10/2019 at 10:30 AM

12
Forming Men for Christ

Thursday, 12/12/2019 at 6:30 AM - 7:45 AM

12
Christmas Country Church Tour

Thursday, 12/12/2019 at 2:00 PM -
Friday, 12/13/2019 at 9:00 PM

15
Together at Christmas

Sunday, 12/15/2019 at 3:00 PM

17
Christmas Novena

Tuesday, 12/17/2019 at 7:00 PM -
Monday, 12/23/2019 at 7:00 PM

18
St. Joseph Luncheon Speaker Series

Wednesday, 12/18/2019 at 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM

19
Fiat Women's Group

Thursday, 12/19/2019 at 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM

31
New Year's Eve Dinner & Dance

Tuesday, 12/31/2019 at 6:30 PM - 12:30 AM

31
New Year's Eve Bingo

Tuesday, 12/31/2019 at 6:45 PM - 10:30 PM

18
Our Lady's Inn Maternity Home Trivia Night

Saturday, 01/18/2020 at 6:00 PM

Photo Credit: Illustrations by Abigail Witte

During Advent, preparing our hearts for the coming of the Lord comes through emulating the key figures of the Nativity

Inspired by St. Francis, the Poor Clare Nuns offer a way for Catholics to follow the journey of the birth of the Child Jesus this Advent

With a great love for Jesus and His humanity, St. Francis of Assisi became the originator of what we know today as the re-enactment of the Nativity of Our Lord.

“He was always trying to live the Gospel literally,” said abbess Mother Mary Leo Hoffman of the Poor Clare Nuns, a contemplative Franciscan community of women religious in St. Louis. “And the fact that the Incarnation, that God became man, for love of us, he couldn’t praise that enough.”

Inspired by his visit to Bethlehem in the Holy Land, St. Francis initiated what became the first known re-enactment of Jesus’ Nativity. Staged in the town of Greccio in the year 1223, St. Francis, having first asked the permission of the pope, organized a Nativity with real people and animals. His thought was that it would be a devotional experience to help people to meditate better on the mystery of the faith by having a concrete image of it firmly in their minds.

St. Bonaventure years later wrote that St. Francis invited the townspeople to Mass and chanted for them the Gospel of Jesus’ birth. As a deacon, he also preached a sermon on the poverty of the newborn King. According to “The Life of St. Francis,” by Thomas of Celano, St. Francis “whenever he would speak the word Bethlehem, his voice was more like the bleating of a sheep. His mouth was filled more with sweet affection than with words. Besides, when he spoke the name child of Bethlehem or Jesus, his tongue licked his lips as it were relishing and savoring with pleased palate the sweetness of the words.”

The Italian Franciscan friar also wrote that a man present at the Nativity re-enactment saw a vision of an infant lying in the manger. “He saw the holy man of God, St. Francis, go up to it and rouse the child as from a deep sleep. This vision was not unfitting, for the child Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of many. But by the working of His grace, He was brought to life again through His servant St. Francis.”

Since then, the crèche has become a treasured symbol of God’s love and a reminder of His humility. Pope Francis has said that the Nativity scene “transmits hope. Each character is immersed in this atmosphere of hope.” And each image found in the Nativity, he said, represents an aspect of this hope.

Christmas is a great feast for the Poor Clare Nuns, because of the influence of St. Francis and his love for Jesus and the Nativity. St. Clare, foundress of the Poor Clare Nuns, also has a story connected to the Nativity. At the end of her life, she found herself in the infirmary at Christmas. Her fellow sisters had gone to the chapel to pray Matins; meanwhile, the Franciscan Friars, located a good distance from the sisters, were holding their midnight office of prayers as well.

Mother Mary Leo recounted the story: By herself in the infirmary, St. Clare began to think about the infant Jesus, and felt sorrow that she could not participate in the prayers with her sisters. She suddenly began to hear the concert of prayers from the Franciscan brothers, from a distance that no human being could have heard on their own. She also saw a vision of the crib of the child Jesus.

“There’s no way that she could have heard any of that, but God was consoling her,” Mother Mary Leo said.

It’s no wonder that Christmas is a great feast for the Poor Clares and other Franciscan communities. Mother Mary Leo noted that Advent is a penitential season preparing for the birth of Jesus, “but it’s a more joy-filled, hope-filled time. We’re trying to prepare our souls, so we do little extra sacrifices and things. It’s a little more quiet time. But it keeps building as we get closer and closer. Advent is one of the most beautiful times of the year. It’s like a little journey to Bethlehem each year.”

The Poor Clares have a tradition in which they assign a small “practice” with each figure or element of the Nativity. At the beginning of each Advent, each sister is assigned to a practice that they concentrate upon during the whole season, said Mother Mary Leo. As a gift to Catholics, the Poor Clares share their reflections for you to emulate this Advent:

Blessed Mother

Mary’s life was a loving Fiat expressed in her acceptance of God’s plan revealed to her by the angel. Stay close to her this Advent and learn from her to pronounce your own fiat to all God’s plans for you as you long for His coming.

”And coming to her, (the angel) said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

”Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her,” (Luke).

St. Joseph

St. Joseph silently and faithfully carried out God’s will known to him by an angel. Imitate his example this Advent by growing in your desire to do God’s will as it is made known to you throughout the day.

”When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

”When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home” (Matthew).

Star of Bethlehem

Let the light of God’s love within you shine out through the kindness of your words and actions to draw others to greater love and desire for our infant Savior.

”When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage” (Matthew).

Angels

Be a peacemaker within your own heart and radiate that peace around you by peaceful words and actions, offering your efforts that there may be peace on earth.

”And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’” (Luke).

Sheep

Follow in the footsteps of the meek and humble Lamb of God by serving others generously and cheerfully, and by doing the will of others rather than your own.

Shepherds

Obey each inspiration to kindness and gentleness in thoughts, words and actions as the shepherds obeyed the angelic voice.

“There were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord’” (Luke).

Wise Men

The Wise Men saw the star and followed the inspiration placed in their hearts to seek

the newborn King. Be attentive to the inspirations you receive at Mass, in adoration or in personal prayer. Make an effort to share these inspirations with others.

”When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage” (Matthew).

Donkey

Strive to bear the burdens of others and serve them in humility this Advent as you journey to Bethlehem with a patient and obedient spirit.

Ox

Be steadfast in your duties and in bringing gracious love into each situation as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus during this Advent season.

Manger

Strive to empty your heart of all attachments and open it wide by prayerful recollection and ardent desire, so that it will be ready to receive Jesus at Christmas.

“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” (Luke).

Straw

Fill your life and your heart with little acts of love of God, kindness to others, and renunciation so that these “straws” will strengthen your heart the

desire to receive Jesus and give Him a welcome resting place at Christmas.

Lantern

Let the light of your peaceful spirit and the glow of your charity guide others to greater awareness of Jesus and fidelity to duty.

Swaddling bands

The infant Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and consented to be helpless. Be willing to submit your will to all the demands of obedience, whether convenient or not.

“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” (Luke).

Recent Articles Module

From the Archive Module

During Advent preparing our hearts for the coming of the Lord comes through emulating the key figures of the Nativity 4702

Must Watch Videos

Now Playing

    View More Videos