Praying as a Family with the Nativity Set

"Praying as a Family with the Nativity Set" (

Courtesy of the McGrath Institute for Church Life, University of Notre Dame. Used with permission.

The family is called to be a “domestic church,” the place where we first learn who God is and prayerfully seek his will for us. As we prepare our homes and our hearts for Christ’s nativity, the Advent season is a time to rekindle and renew our family’s prayer life.

Praying with the nativity set is one way to build your “domestic church” during Advent. The nativity set is a symbol of anticipation and fulfillment that children and parents can explore together in preparation for Christmas.

When we spend a few minutes praying before our family’s nativity set, we pause the normal pace of our daily lives and await the coming of the Son of Man into the world. We come before the Living God to ask for the needs of our family, pray for others and give thanks for our blessings. As Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia, “this moment of prayer can do immense good for our families.”

Here are three ways to gather your family for prayer around your nativity set:

  • Night prayer: Gathering around the nativity set at bedtime for a special hymn, Scripture reading or prayer is a wonderful way to conclude the day and establish the Nativity as a place to seek peace in the midst of a busy household
  • The Rosary: The Joyful Mysteries remind us of Christ’s Incarnation as well as the faithful anticipation of Mary experienced at the Annunciation and the Visitation with her cousin, Elizabeth
  • Lectio Divina: Or “divine reading,” is a traditional practice of meditating and contemplating Scripture that can be practiced as a family with the daily readings throughout Advent.

To learn more about these family friendly ways to pray with the nativity set, join Professor Tim O’Malley from the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame for a webinar titled “Praying as a Family with the Nativity Set.”

The webinar is ideal for parents and religious education directors who are seeking creative ways to foster devotion in their families and schools during Advent.

Prof. Timothy P. O’Malley, director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and founding editor of the Church Life Journal, will host the webinar and answer questions from participants. The webinar is Thursday, Dec. 1 at noon Eastern.

Register for the webinar here.

Read more articles in our 2016 Advent Guide.

Advent Guide 2016 (

Photo copyright Christine Marciniak. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2016 Meg Mirshak

About the author: Meg Mirshak is a communications specialist for the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. She graduated from Notre Dame where she studied American history, theology and journalism. Meg worked for several years as a newspaper reporter in Georgia before returning to Notre Dame.


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