Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Christmas Traditions in Colombia

The Christmas season in Colombia starts on December 7, when families light candles in honor of the Virgin Mary. The Church celebrates December 8 as the day of the Immaculate Conception. This is a Colombian National Holiday and a holy day of obligation with the Church. It is celebrated with a display of lights as each home will light approximately 100 candles on the curb and sidewalk area. City streets and parks are illuminated with large Christmas lights as well. On December 1st, Colombian families typically start setting up the Christmas tree, which is artificial for ecological reasons. The Christmas tree is decorated with lights and ornaments. Families set up Nativity scenes, which are either plastic or hand-crafted figures. Everyone in the family contributes on this day. The figure of the Infant Jesus is not placed until after midnight of Christmas Eve, symbolizing that Christ is now born.

From December 16 through December 24, families usually gather together at night around Nativity scenes to pray and sing carols in the Novena de Aguinaldos. On Christmas Eve family members and neighbors gather to eat and dance. Traditional Colombian foods include: ajiaco (a soup with potatoes), turkey, pork or chicken and natilla (a corn-based dessert) and buñuelos. Everyone waits until midnight to wish each other Merry Christmas and to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve.

Traditionally, El Niño Jesus, the Christ Child, is the one who would bring you the gifts. But recently Santa Claus has been introduced as a gift-giver as well. Children get up on Christmas morning and find gifts at the foot of their beds.

Novena de Aguinaldos

Prayer for each day:

Kind God of infinite goodness, who so loved the human race that in your Son you gave a token of your love, so that, made human in the womb of a Virgin, he would be born in a manger for our salvation and healing. In the name of all mortals, I give you infinite thanks for such an overwhelming grace.
Through Him I offer you the poverty, the humility, and the other virtues of your incarnate Son, begging that through his divine merits, the discomforts of his birth, and the tender tears he shed in the manger, you dispose our hearts with profound humility, burning love, and complete contempt of all worldly goods so that the new-born Jesus find in them his cradle and dwell there eternally. Amen
(Pray three Glory be's)

First Day (read First Day)

Prayer to the Blessed Virgin

For every day

Most glorious Mary, who because of your great virtues and especially your humility merited that God himself chose you as his mother, I beg that you yourself prepare my soul – and the souls of all those who at this time make this novena – for the spiritual birth of your adored Son.
Sweet mother, impart to me something of the profound recollection and divine tenderness with which you were awaiting his coming, so as to make us less unworthy of beholding him, loving him, and adoring him for all eternity. Amen.

(Pray nine Hail Mary's and Glory be's)

Prayer to Saint Joseph

For every day

Most holy Joseph, spouse of Mary and adoptive father of Jesus, I give God infinite thanks, because he chose you for such exalted service and bestowed on you all the gifts fitting for such great excellence.
I ask you, by the love you had for the Divine Child, to kindle in me fervent desires to see him and receive him sacramentally, until such time as I see him and enjoy him in his divine essence in heaven. Amen.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be)

Prayer to the Child Jesus

For every day

Remember, sweet Child Jesus, that you spoke to the venerable Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament, and through her all those devoted to you, these words which are so consoling for our exhausted, hurting humanity: "Everything you desire, ask for it through the merits of my infancy, and nothing will be denied you."
Full of confidence in you, Jesus, who are truth itself, we come to express all our misery. Help us to lead a holy life in order to attain a blessed eternity.
Grant us, by the infinite merits of your incarnation and your childhood, the grace of which we are in so much need.
(Pause… “In your heart ask for your own prayer”).
We give ourselves over to you, all-powerful Child, certain that our hope will not be in vain and that by virtue of your divine providence you will receive our plea and grant it. Amen


For every day

My dear sweet Jesus,
my adorable child.
Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Oh, highest wisdom of the Sovereign God
Who has descended to the level of a child!
Oh divine infant, come to teach us
the prudence which makes us truly wise!

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Oh sacred root of Jesse, who on high
presents to the world your fragrant balm!

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Sweet Child, you have been called
Lily of the valley,
beautiful flower of the field!

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Oh, light of the Orient, Sun of eternal rays,
grant that we see your splendor
amid the dark shadows.
Most precious Child,
good fortune of Christians,
let your smile shine forth on your sweet lips.

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

King of the nations,
Emmanuel renowned,
longing of Israel,
Pastor of your flock.

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Child who shepherds with gentle crook
both the frisky sheep and the placid lamb.

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Let the heavens open wide and let fall from on high
a dew of blessings and a holy mist.
Come, beautiful Child!
Come, God made human!
Shine, stunning star,
Blossom, flower of the field!
Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Come, for Mary now readies her arms
for her Child, who will come in just a short while!
Come, for Joseph now with sacred longing
makes ready to become a sanctuary of your love.

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Help of the weak,
refuge of those in pain,
consolation of the grieving,
light of those in exile!
Light of my life,
my master adored,
my constant friend,
my brother divine!

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Come before eyes,
which are full of love for you.
Kissing now your feet,
kissing now your hands,
prostrate on the earth,
I reach out my arms to you.
Even more than my words,
my cry speaks volumes to you.

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

Come, our Savior,
the one we have long desired.

Come into our souls!
Come without delay!

First Day

At the beginning of time the Word was resting in the bosom of his Father, in the heights of heaven. There he was at once the cause and the model of the whole of creation.
In these depths of an incalculable eternity dwelt the Son of God before he deigned to descend to earth and take possession of the cave of Bethlehem.
There is where we should see the beginnings, which have never begun. From there we should date the genealogy of the Eternal, which has no antecedents, and contemplate the life of infinite contentment that reigned there.
The life of the Eternal Word in the bosom of his Father was marvelous indeed, but – mystery sublime! – he sought another dwelling. He sought a created mansion, not because he was lacking in infinite happiness in his eternal mansion, but because his infinite mercy desired the redemption and salvation of the human race, which was impossible to achieve without him. The sin of Adam had offended God, and that infinite offense could not be pardoned except by the merits of God himself.
The race of Adam had disobeyed and so merited eternal punishment. To make satisfaction for this fault, it was therefore necessary that God, without leaving heaven, take the form of a man on earth and by obedience to the designs of his Father, expiate that disobedience, ingratitude, and rebellion. For this reason the Eternal Word, burning with a desire to save humankind, resolved to become man and so redeem the guilty.

(Continue with Prayer to the Blessed Virgin and the all the prayers)

Second Day

Kind God of infinite goodness…
The Eternal Word is about to take on his created nature in the holy house of Nazareth, the dwelling of Mary and Joseph. When the shadow of the divine secret came over her, Mary was alone, absorbed in prayer. She used to spend the silent nighttime hours in intimate union with God, and while she prayed, the Word took possession of his created abode.
Nevertheless, he did not arrive unannounced. Before coming he sent a messenger, the Archangel Gabriel, to ask Mary, on God's behalf, for her consent to the Incarnation. The Creator did not wish to bring about this great mystery without the agreement of his creature.
That moment was quite solemn. Mary had it in her power to refuse … With what wonderful delights and ineffable pleasures did the Most Holy Trinity wait for Mary to open her lips and pronounce the "Fiat" which must have been a sweet melody to God's ears and which brought her profound humility into conformity with the omnipotent divine will!
The Immaculate Virgin has given her consent. The archangel has disappeared. God has clothed himself in a created nature. The eternal will is fulfilled, and creation is complete. The Word has become flesh, and even though still invisible to the world, he already lives among those whom his immense love has come to rescue.

The rest as on the first day.

Third Day

Kind God of infinite goodness…
In this way the Child Jesus began his incarnate life. Let us consider the glorious soul and the holy body that he took on, and let us profoundly adore them. Admiring first the soul of that Divine Child, let us consider the fulness of the its beatific vision, by which from the first moment of his life Jesus saw the divine essence more clearly than all the angels and was able to read all the hidden knowledge of both past and future.
From the soul of the Child Jesus, we now pass to his body, which was a world of marvels, a master work from the hand of God. God wanted it to be small and weak, like that of other children, and subject to all the discomforts of childhood, so that Jesus would resemble us more and share in our humiliations.
The beauty of this body of the Divine Child was superior to anything anyone has imagined, and the divine blood that circulated through its veins from the moment of his Incarnation is that which washed away all the stains of our guilty world. Let us ask him to wash away our own stains through the sacrament of penance, so that the day of his blessed Nativity will find us purified, forgiven and ready to receive him with love and spiritual profit.

The rest as on the first day.

Fourth Day

Kind God of infinite goodness…
Right from the bosom of his mother, the Child Jesus begin to put into practice his eternal submission to God, which he continued through all his life with not the slightest interruption. He loved and adored his Eternal Father and submitted himself to his will. He accepted with resignation all his weakness, all his humiliation, all his distress.
Which of us would want to return to such a state with the complete use of reason and reflection? That is how the Divine Child entered upon his painful, humbling course. That is how he began to negate himself before his Father, in order to show us what God deserves from his creature and to expiate our pride, the source of our sins.
Do we desire to pray truly? Let us begin by form an idea of what that would be, by contemplating the Child Jesus in the bosom of his Mother. The Divine Child prays constantly in the most excellent way. He does not speak, he does not meditate, he is not consumed by tender emotions. He accepts his very existence with the intention of honoring God; through his prayer and his existence he expresses everything that God deserves and does so in the way God wants to be adored by us.
Let us unite ourselves to the adoration of the Child Jesus in the bosom of Mary, let us unite ourselves to his profound sadness, and let this be the first effect of our sacrifice to God. Let us disappear from our own ideas, and let God be everything for us.

The rest as on the first day.

Fifth Day

Kind God of infinite goodness…
We have already see the life that the Child Jesus led in the bosom of his most pure Mother. Let us see today the life which Mary also led during that same period of time. Mary never stopped aspiring for the moment when she would enjoy that terrestrial beatific vision, the face of the incarnate God.
She was about to see that human face which was about to illuminate the heavens for all eternity. She was going to see the filial love in those same eyes whose glances would forever inspire delight in millions of chosen one. She was going to see him in the apparent ignorance of infancy, the special delights of youth, and in the reflective serenity of maturity.
Such was Mary's life of expectation, something unheard of in itself, but it did not for that reason cease to be a magnificent model for every Christian life. Let us not be content to marvel at Jesus residing in Mary, but let us think that he also resides in us by essence, potency, and presence.

The rest as on the first day.

Sixth Day

Kind God of infinite goodness…
Jesus had been conceived in Nazareth, the home of Joseph and Mary, and it was thought he would most naturally be born there. But God had arranged things otherwise. The prophets had announced that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judah, city of David.
In order for this prediction to be fulfilled, God used a means that seemed to be unrelated to this objective, namely, the order given by the Emperor Augustus that all the subjects of the Roman empire should be registered in their native regions. As descendants of David, Mary and Joseph were required to travel to Bethlehem.
Jesus was not ignorant of the place where he was to be born, and in this way he inspired his parents to entrust themselves to Providence and so cooperate in the carrying out of his designs. Observe, interior souls, this way of acting of the Divine Child, because it is very important for the spiritual life. Learn that those who have entrusted themselves to God no longer belong to themselves; they now are to desire only what God desires for them.

The rest as on the first day.

Seventh Day

Kind God of infinite goodness…
Let us picture now the journey to Bethlehem of Mary and Joseph, who carried with them, still unborn, the Creator of the universe, made man. Let us contemplate the humility and the obedience of that Divine Child, who was of the Jewish race and had loved his people for centuries. Still, with inexplicable predilection, he thus obeyed a foreign prince, who demanded a census of the provincial population, as if there were for the Child in that circumstance something attractive. It was as if he was in a hurry to enroll himself officially and authentically as a subject at the very moment he was coming into the world.
The longing of Joseph and the expectation of Mary cannot be expressed in human language. The Eternal Father was, if we may use the expression, wonderfully impatient to give his only son to the world and to see him take his place among visible creatures. The Holy Spirit was burning with the desire to present to the light of day that holy humanity which he himself had formed with divine care.

The rest as on the first day.

Eight Day

Kind God of infinite goodness…
Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem and sought lodging in the inns, but they found none, either because all were full already or because they were disregarded due to their poverty. Still, nothing can disturb the interior peace of those whose heart is set on God.
If Joseph felt sadness when he was refused lodging in house after house, it was because he was thinking of Mary and the Child. Nevertheless, he also smiled with holy tranquility when he fixed his gaze on his chaste spouse. Also, the noise of each door being closed to them was a melody sweet to the ears of the unborn Jesus. That was what he had come in search of. The desire for these humiliations was what had contributed to his taking human form.
Oh Divine Child of Bethlehem! This day, which so many people have spent in festivities and celebrations or resting comfortably in their luxurious mansions, has been for your parents a day of fatigue and troubles of every sort. The spirit of Bethlehem is that of a world that has forgotten God. How many times has that not been our own spirit!
Let the sun of December 24 set behind the roofs of Bethlehem, and let its golden rays illuminate the rocky cliffs which surround the town.
Uncouth men and women rudely brush aside the Lord in the streets of the Middle Eastern village, and they close their doors when they see his Mother. The vault of the heavens appears purplish above those hills where shepherds kept their flocks. The stars gradually appear, one by one. A few more hours, and the Eternal Word will also appear.

The rest as on the first day.

Ninth Day

Kind God of infinite goodness…
Dark night has fallen over Bethlehem and its surroundings. Rejected by their fellow men and finding themselves without lodging, Mary and Joseph have left the inhospitable town and taken refuge in a cave at the bottom of the hill.
The Queen of Angels was followed by the beast that has served as her humble mount during the journey, and in that cave they found a gentle ox. The Divine Child, unrecognized by his rational creatures, now must turn to the irrational ones, so that they will warm with their breath the frigid atmosphere of that winter night and show him in this way and by their humble attitude the respect and adoration that the town had refused him.
But now midnight has arrived, and suddenly we see within the manger, empty a short while ago, the Divine Child that was expected, prophesied, desired for four thousand years with unspeakable longing. His most holy Mother prostrates herself at his feet in a transport of adoration which you cannot imagine. Joseph also draws near and renders homage, thereby inaugurating the mysterious, imponderable role to be played by the supposed father of the Redeemer of the world.
The multitude of angels that descends from heaven to contemplate this incomparable marvel makes resound in the air the harmony of that Gloria in Excelsis that is the echo of adoration produced around the throne of the Most High, now made audible for an instant to the ears of poor humanity. Summoned by the angels, the shepherds from roundabout rush to adore the newborn child and to present to him their humble offerings.
Already shining in the east is the mysterious star of Jacob, and already on its way to Bethlehem is the magnificent caravan of the Three Magi. Within a few days they will come to put at the feet of the Divine Child their gifts of gold, incense and myrrh, which are symbols of charity, adoration, and mortification.
Oh adorable Child! We also, who have made this novena to prepare for the day of your Nativity, want to offer you our humble adoration. Please do not reject it! Come into our souls, come into our hearts, and fill them with love.
Kindle in them devotion to your holy childhood. Make it a devotion truly practiced and zealously propagated, so that it will lead us to eternal life, freeing us from sin and sowing in us all the Christian virtues.
The rest as on the first day.