Monthly Prayer Page: December

Welcome to the Jesuit Missions Monthly Prayer Page. Here you will find topical prayers and different prayer styles to help broaden and deepen your prayer life in the tradition of Ignatian spirituality

JM Prayer Focus 1: St. Francis Xavier feast day: 3rd December

Not only is St.Francis Xavier one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus and one of the most famous Jesuit Saints, he is also an inspiration to Jesuit Missions. Following in the footsteps of St. Francis Xavier, Jesuit Missions works in Asia to bring about social justice through our funding of local initiatives and volunteering programmes.

December1

Altar of St Francis Xavier, Javier, Spain

Here is a prayer dedicated to St. Francis Xavier (author unknown):

O Father of goodness,

You so loved the world

To give your only begotten Son

That whoever believes in Him

May have eternal life.

Through the intercession

Of St. Francis Xavier,

Who brought the Gospel of salvation

To many people,

Grant me be a courageous preacher

Of your Word,

Salt of the earth and light of the world,

Through the gift of the Spirit

And the witness of my life,

May your mercy be better known

And all people enjoy your salvation,

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

JM Prayer Focus 2: Christmas

December2

Christmas at Holy Trinity Church, Braamfontein, South Africa

Prayer Type: Meditating with a Christmas Carol

Christmas, one of the highlights of the Christian calendar, can be quite an overwhelming time. To some it can feel like a festive attack on the senses that leaves us bewildered rather than reverent at this special time of year. Perhaps prayerfully meditating on the words of a well-known Christmas carol will unlock new levels of depth of the well-known Nativity story?

Below are the lyrics to Once in Royal David’s City, written by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848. Use the questions beneath the hymn to guide your meditation and help deepen your appreciation of the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Alternatively, read through these words in the Lectio Divina prayer style or contemplate the scene they set in the Imaginative Contemplation prayer style. If you feel it helps, why not listen to the hymn as you pray?

Prayer Stimuli:

Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall;
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For he is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in heaven above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him; but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
Where like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.

Meditation Questions:

  • “Cattle shed, manger [a feeding trough], stable, stall…” What kind of circumstances was Our Lord born into? What are the hidden messages God is sending to us in this location and setting?
  • “His wondrous childhood” Little is known of this period of Christ’s life. Spend time considering what it may have been like. What were His first memories? What were His first words? Where did He first walk? Rest with the baby Jesus and let Him tell you…
  • “He came down to earth from heaven” Consider God’s perspective of this scene. What are His emotions? How is He feeling? Ask Him. How did He feel when you were born? How did he feel when the world was born?
  • Return to the adjectives in this hymn. What themes shine through and illuminate your understanding of the Nativity?
  • Does the hymn challenge us to respond to God in our daily lives? By resting in this Nativity scene do you gain any insight into the problems or potentials of your life?

Jesuit Missions wishes you and your loved ones a blessed and Happy Christmas.

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Click here for a PDF version of this month’s prayer