HAIL AND BLESSED
At some time long ago, several of the teachers were at a Holy Hour that Father Fasano was leading. In his sermon, the good Padre told us that the Italians have a custom of saying the “Hail and Blessed” prayer 15 times a day from the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30th) to Christmas Day. Father said the prayer for us, which we had no chance of remembering, but in God’s good providence, Mrs. Scheetz (I think she was Miss Kelly then, but I am not sure) was there and her family said the prayer during Advent, but they said it only once each day. I guess the Irish are good at streamlining their prayers. Mrs. Scheetz taught us the prayer.
We thought the pious Italian act was a great tradition, and so it was begun at Seton. Here is the prayer for those of you whose time at Seton predates its adoption or for those of you who may have forgotten it through the years.
Hail and Blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the Most Pure Virgin, in Bethlehem, at midnight, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O My God, to hear my prayer and grant my petitions through the merits of Jesus Christ and His Most Holy Mother. Amen.
Some years I was saying this prayer 15 times with my homeroom class, the two religion classes and the last class of the day because some in that final class were not saying it in any other class. I was Hail and Blessed out by the time Christmas vacation arrived.
Sometimes we would say the 15 by praying three after each decade of the rosary. In the religion classes we would have a Scriptural reading after saying the prayer five times as part of our Advent wreathe ceremony. I liked breaking up the 15 in some way.
Another Advent tradition that I like is begun on the Feast of St. Lucy (December 13th). On Lucy’s feast day wheat seed is planted in some little container. The wheat sprouts and grows quickly so that one can “harvest” the grass on Christmas Eve and put the soft green sprouts into the manger to make a soft bed for the Christ Child.
One year I didn’t have any wheat seed, so I used radish seeds. I think wheat might have a little more symbolic meaning, but the radish sprouts still made a soft bed. And radishes are often used as the bitter herb in the Seder meal, so there is a related significance to the wheat sprouts.
A Blessed Advent to one and all.
Jezu, ufam Tobie.