Saturday, 26 November 2011

Advent: Preparing for Our Lord's Nativity and for his coming as Judge of the living and the dead

A voice crying out in the wilderness, make straight the
way of the Lord 
Throughout the year, the Church seeks to aid her children by offering them seasons and times that concentrate on some aspect of Our Lord's life. By meditating on the various mysteries of Christ's life and ministry, we who do so grow in our love for him, become more attached to him and enjoy the benefits of the salvation that he has gained for us. Each year we are given the grace to delve deeper and deeper into the mystery of Jesus Christ as we follow the liturgical seasons and feasts that he himself has given us through his Church.

Advent is a special season in that it helps Christians to prepare for the coming of Christ - his advent. At Christmas, which is what Advent prepares us for, Jesus will be born once more in our hearts. But Advent also prepares us for that other coming of Christ, his Second Coming, when he will come again to "judge the living an the dead." He who comes to set captives free and who comes as the Daystar of our lives is also the judge who is already standing at the door (cf James 5:9). He will grant to our souls at Christmas the same graces which he gave the Shepherds and the Magi at that first Christmas. When he comes again in glory at the end of time, he will judge us on how we used these graces - these free gifts of salvation. Advent is therefore a time of preparation both for the many graces already won for us and still being offered to us through the Incarnation as well as for the day on which we will stand before Jesus Christ face to face. If we love him, we will rejoice in calling out during Advent, "Come Lord Jesus, do not delay!"

In former times, on this First Sunday of Advent, the people of Rome would join their Bishop, the Pope, for a celebration of Solemn Mass at Santa Maria Maggiore (a basilica I mentioned a few days ago on my own blog). This particular church was chosen because it is the Blessed Virgin Mary who gave us Jesus at Christmas and because the relics of the crib in which she placed him are preserved at Santa Maria Maggiore. Of course, Our Lady prepared for Christ's coming more than anyone else - her pregnancy was a precursor to our Advent and along with her fellow Jews she was full of expectation for the promised Messiah, the Saviour. Let us therefore ask Mary, our Mother, to guide us throughout this Advent season - so that, both at Christmas and at the end of time itself, she may show unto us the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus.

Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum
(Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just)
Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem
(Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour)

Mary With Child
Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli
Porta manes, et stella maris, sucurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat populo: tu quae genuisti,
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem,
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

Usque ad diem 23 decembris:

 Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae.
 Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Oremus. Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut, qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem ejus et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

A die 24 decembris:

 Post partum, Virgo, inviolata permansisti.
 Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis.

Oremus. Deus, qui salutis aeternae, beatae Mariae virginitate fecudna, humano generi praemia praestitisti: tribue, quaesumus, ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamus, per quam meruimus auctorem vitae suscipere, Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum. Amen.

O Loving Mother of our Redeemer

O loving Mother of our Redeemer, gate of heaven, star of the sea,
Hasten to aid thy fallen people who strive to rise once more.
Thou who brought forth thy holy Creator, all creation wond'ring,
Yet remainest ever Virgin, taking from Gabriel's lips
that joyful "Hail!": be merciful to us sinners.

Up until the day before Christmas Eve:

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

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. Amen.

From Christmas Eve onwards:

 Thou gavest birth without loss of thy virginity:
 Intercede for us, O holy Mother of God.

Let us pray. O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary hast offered unto the human race the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that we may know the effects of her intercession, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Amen.

Posted by Dylan Parry A Reluctant Sinner
Image attribution for this post can be found on my blog

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