What Is Prayer?

For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.

(St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Manuscrits autobiographiques, C 25r.)

The Pope Video December 2020 

Prayers for December

The Angelus

Traditionally said three times a day: 6am, 12noon and 6pm.

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary.

V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray;
Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord,
thy grace into our hearts;
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, thy Son,
was made known by the message of an angel,
may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Through the same Christ, our Lord.

Sub tuum

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus,
sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.

We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God.
Despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us always from all dangers
O glorious and blessed Virgin.

This prayer, first found in c. 300, is the oldest known prayer to the Virgin.

Prayer to Holy Michael, Archangel

Holy Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God cast into hell Satan
and all the evil spirits
who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

The Great ‘O Antiphons’

17th December
O WISDOM you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong but gentle manner. Come and teach us the way of truth

18th December
O ADONAI and Leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave the Law on Sinai. O Come and save us with your mighty power.

19th December
O STOCK OF JESSE, you stand as a signal for the nations. Kings fall silent before you whom the people acclaim. O Come, deliver us and do not delay. 

20th December
O KEY OF DAVID and sceptre of Israel what you open no-one can close again: what you close no one can open. Come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

21st December
O RISING SUN, you are the splendour of eternal light and the Sun of Justice. O Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

22nd December
O KING whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone that makes all one. O Come and save mankind whom you have made of clay.

23rd December
O EMMANUEL, you are our King and Judge, the one whom the peoples await and their Saviour. O Come and save us, Lord our God.

A hymn for Advent

Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting light,
Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,
And hear Thy servants when they call.

Thou, grieving that the ancient curse
Should doom to death a universe,
Hast found the medicine, full of grace,
To save and heal a ruined race.

Thou cam’st, the Bridegroom of the bride,
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine.

At Whose dread Name, majestic now,
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
And things celestial Thee shall own,
And things terrestrial, Lord alone.

O Thou Whose coming is with dread
To judge and doom the quick and dead,
Preserve us, while we dwell below,
From every insult of the foe.

To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Laud, honor, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally.

Pope Francis's Prayer Intention - December

As this awful year has unfolded and as the pandemic not only deepened, but a second wave surged across many lands, fears began to grow about our Advent and our Christmas – would we be able to celebrate together or even be together? We have been praying; our Advent prayer has been very intense, with the Pope. We cared for each other and we gave thanks for our scientists & health-care professionals, all working so hard for others, for the common good. The Pope’s Intention for December, offered to all through his personal worldwide prayer-group, can give us a vocabulary, words for our Advent prayer each day. He suggests this month that we can ask, with him, “For a life of prayer: to pray that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer”.

“Today, I announce great news to you” proclaims the Christmas Scripture, words that we wait to hear over the four weeks of Advent. This December, we know that we need more than ever to hear those words; we long to hear them. “Be aware, never forgetting to pray”, Scripture suggests too, not to miss the good news that feels barely evident right now.


1: Make an Advent mini-retreat, in your own place! Resolve to make time and space gently available, each day, to read and absorb the Mass reading of that day. Allow your heart to be lifted by those inspiring passages from Isaiah, for example, or of Mary and Joseph as we get near to the Nativity. Think about lighting a candle, which can be your Advent candle so that its light accompanies your sacred reading. It might not be possible to do this at the same time each day but, if you can, do so and it will be quickly a special moment that you’ll look forward to each day.

2: Intensify your prayer about the middle of the month by turning to the ancient “O Antiphons”, chants sung or recited at the beginning and end of Mary’s Magnificat during Evening Prayer on each of the days leading up to Christmas Day, from 17-23 December. You do not need to have a breviary to do this as they are easily found online. If you don’t already, consider trying Evening Prayer each of these days. It is, of course, very easy and fruitful to pray with others.

3: As we reach Christmas, follow the guidance of St.Ignatius as he suggests a nativity contemplation to us, as shown below. This would probably take a bit longer so give yourself a little more time for this, as a Christmas present to yourself and to the world.


St.Ignatius suggests that we imagine ourselves with the Holy Family, really present at the Nativity scene as described in Luke’ Gospel. Place yourself there, in the imagination; see the people, the surroundings, sense the cold, even the smell of the farmyard animals. Let Our Lady beckon you to come close to the newborn child. Then, let her say what all proud Mums might say to their friends; she asks you if you would like to hold this little one in your own arms for a moment. Accept her offer. As you imagine yourself holding, with great tenderness, the infant saviour in your arms, what do you notice? What words might you want to say  to him, and to her? Give thanks for what you receive in these moments.