Shelter seeking is an old custom reminding us of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter when the Savior was about to be born. At Bethlehem there was no room for them in the inn. Will they find shelter with us today when they come to our home pleading for shelter and acceptance? Shelter seeking is a novena in preparation for Christ’s coming, for Christmas. We want to open wide our hearts for Christ and his mother.
The novena usually begins on December 15th and ends on December 24th. We can begin this novena by preparing a special place for the Blessed Mother in our home. Each day we bring our picture or statue of the Blessed Mother to a different room in our house and offer her a special place of honor in that particular room for the entire day. Each night when we arrive at the next room, we could use the below suggested readings and meditation. The following meditation can also be used as a novena without the shelter seeking ceremony.
Try it! Set aside a few minutes each day before Christmas for this interior preparation and you will see how much more meaningful Christmas will become for you this year!
How to conduct Shelter Seeking
Prepare a place of honor for Our Lady and her Child. You may use either a picture or stature and a candle.
Welcome Our Lady and her Son on the first evening of the Novena with a prayer of your own choosing or use the Prayer of Welcome below...
Mother Mary, please help us to make our home bright and full of love, ready for your little son to be born again on Christmas night. Like you we want to make Him welcome so that He will be happy when He comes to stay here in our home. We have our presents, nearly ready, of kind deeds, healing hands, kind words, smiling eyes, of sharing and of saving for the poor, because we know that it gives Him joy on Christmas Day to bring a smile of happiness to faces that are often sad. He wants to come not just to us, He wants to come to everyone. Teach us, Mother, how to prepare as you did. Amen.
Involve every member of the family, let the children say their own prayers.
You may want to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary on this opening day of the novena.
The picture/statue starts out from e.g. the living room on the first day of the novena and stays there for that evening, moving to another room on the next evening and so on until the end of the novena. You may have to visit the same room more then once.
The goal is to pray as a family each evening, reminding yourselves of the presence of Christ and His Mother in your home. Our hearts must be ready to welcome the Savior
Scripture: Zep 3:14-17
REFLECT: My heart is your Zion! As in Zion the God of the Old Testament ruled the Israelites, and as God took his dwelling in Zion, so the Lord has established his dwelling within me.
PRAY: Dear God, I surrender to you the depth of my heart. Accept it and take full passion of it. Take care that nothing will replace you and tear you out of my heart. I offer you my inner soul as your everlasting passion. It shall become your Zion!
Scripture: Is. 2:1-5
REFLECT: Here on earth we are not only temples of the Holy Spirit, but we should also be used as stones, as living stones in order to build a new temple, the new Jerusalem in heaven. Heaven appears before us as the new Jerusalem, built with living stones.
PRAY: Blessed Mother help us to surrender our hearts totally to you and to the eternal Triune God, especially to the Father.
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
REFLECT: We want to use the time if silence, of loneliness and quite in order to dedicate ourselves anew to the dear Blessed Mother and to adhere to whatever God demands of us.
PRAY: Dear Mother and Queen let me become quite calm so that God’s spirit can fill me and that I may understand what he wants to say to me as I meditate and pray. Give me that fineness of hearing which enables the heart to sense the approach of the beloved. Help me to hear God’s inspiration and attune me to his wishes. Amen.
Scripture Luke 1:39-45
REFLECT: Within our hearts we carry the Most High, similar to the Blessed Mother who carried Christ and brought him into the world. We, too, may carry Christ and bring him into the world.
PRAY: Mary, you are a wonder. You are the unsurpassable masterpiece of God’s creation. You are the mirror into which we may look. And when we gaze into this mirror, we again become aware of our own greatness. We are a creation of God’s love, of God’s wisdom and of God’s omnipotence.
Scripture: Luke 1:67-79
REFLECT: Through the merciful love of our God, the radiant light from on high will overshadow us.
PRAY: Mother give me your child. My heart is so little prepared; yet it longs for your child.
Scripture: Matt 24:37-44
REFLECT: I have frequently repeated the words of St. Augustine, the person in search of the great God: “My God, you were within me, but I was outside of myself!” How often are we away from ourselves with our thoughts, with our feelings?
PRAY: Therefore, Our Lady, prove yourself admirable also in transforming our mind, our fantasy, our emotions. Yes, take care that we who carry the Triune God within us will also receive the ability to speak with him constantly, and to converse with him in a simple, original, childlike way. It shall never be that we are not at home when the Triune God, dwelling within us wishes to speak to us.
Scripture: Is. 48:17-19
REFLECT: We want to become sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our soul. The Holy Spirit wants to form us more and more; yes, he wants to transform us into instruments for the redemption of the world. But painfully we admit that we do not listen to him very closely. The voice of the world is much louder within our soul.
PRAY: Holy Spirit, you live within us. In you and through you let us recognize the true value of objects. Seize our will and our passions so that our whole being can be more and more formed and transformed.
Scripture: Is. 7:10-14
REFLECT: The Blessed Mother was to be the dwelling place of the Son of God. Isn’t is self-understood, and doesn’t it correspond completely to the thought of God, that this dwelling was to remain totally free, pure?
PRAY: Hail Mare for the sake of your purity, keep me pure in body and soul. Open wide to me your heart and the heart of your Son. Implore for me deep self-knowledge and the grace to persevere and remain faithful until death. Give me soul’s and keep all else for yourself.
Scripture: Is. 11:1-10
REFLECT: The Prince of Peace wants to erect his kingdom of peace in our hearts, in our restless hearts torn by strife. Receive him into your heart through frequent reception of the sacraments and through a zealous life of sacrifice and prayer.
PRAY: Blessed Mother, let Christ take complete possession of my soul!
Scripture Is. 9:1-6
REFLECT & PRAY: Mother, please give your child to all of us today. We promise you that he shall be bedded warmly in our hearts. We promise you: We want to love and greet your child as you have done. You knelt adoringly before your child. And we, too, want to kneel adoringly before this same child within our heat. And we want to pour into the heart of this little child all our suffering, all our guilt. In the future we shall not be alone anymore. It is not us who carry and support ourselves, but the child in us who carries us on our journey heavenward.
Resources from: Wonder of Advent; The celebration of Advent in our Homes