Dec 17, 2004

Veni Veni Emmanuel

Taking the time to study the propers and readings for the Masses of Advent is quite edifying. Both the current missa normativa and the 1962 editio typica do not in fact spend most of their time contemplating the Nativity of our Lord primarily. In fact, the season itself is one with a penitential character. The focus is on not only preparing and remembering for the historical event of the Virgin Birth, but has an eschatological meaning in the preparing and waiting for the glorious Second Coming.

The scripture texts in the 1962 Missal are: Rom 13:11-14, Luke 21: 25-33 (First Sunday); Rom 15:4-13, Matt 11:2-10 (Second Sunday); Philip 4:4-7, John 1:19-28 (Third Sunday); 1 Cor 4:1-5, Luke 3:1-6 (Fourth Sunday).

The scripture texts in the current Missal are: Is 2:1-5, Ps 122:1-9, Rom 13:11-14, Matt 24:37-44 (First Sunday); Is 11:1-10, Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17, Rom 15:4-9, Matt 3:1-12 (Second Sunday); Is 35:1-6a, 10, Ps 146:6-10, Jas 5:7-10, Matt 11:2-11 (Third Sunday); Is 7:10-14, Ps 24:1-6, Rom 1:1-7, Matt 1:18-24 (Fourth Sunday).

In both missals what is underscored for the liturgy is a remembrance of the promises of redemption in the Old Testament, a celebration of the Nativity as a historical event, and the looking forward to the advent of our Saviour in the end times. The First Sunday reminds us at the Postcommunion prayer that the coming celebration is the celebration of our Redemption.1 The Communion prayer of the Second Sunday reminds us to rejoice with Jerusalem as the prophets had extolled her for the joy which comes from God.2 The Third Sunday captures the underlying idea behind the Advent Season: God will save us. This message is expressed throughout the season in the readings and especially on the Third Sunday in the Collect and the Communion prayer.3 The Fourth Sunday builds to the celebration coming and expresses it's joy and expectation in the Introit, while begging for forgiveness in anticipation of the Nativity/Second Coming in the Alleluia.4.

The study of liturgical texts bears the fruits of contemplation, giving the individual to understand the communal celebration of the Church. She bears witness to the Faith in and through her liturgy. This season is one of penance in reparation for failures and in anticipation of salvation. It is a season of joy, recalling the God who is faithful to his promise and with Fatherly love gives to us every good thing: expressing it in the humbling of the Second Person who deigns to take upon himself our human nature for the salvation of those whom he loves so perfectly. Let us recall this event, amend our lives, and look forward with joy to this forthcoming celebration: remembering always that he has kept his promises and will keep his promise to return.

Allelúia, allelúia. Excita Dómine poténtiam tuam et veni: ut salvos fácias nos. Allelúia.

Alleluia, alleluia. Stir up Thy might, O Lord, and come: that Thou mayest save us. Alleluia Ps 79:3

1. Postcommunion: May we in the midst of Thy holy temple, O Lord, receive of Thy mercy, who seek with fitting honour to welcome the coming festival of our Redemption. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

2. Communion - Bar. 5:5; 4:36: Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high: and behold the joy that cometh to thee from thy God.

3. Communion - Is. 35:4: Say, ye faint-hearted, take courage, and fear not: behold our God will come and will save us. Collect: Bow down Thine ear, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to our prayers; and by the brightness of Thine Advent lighten the darkness of our minds. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

4. Introit: Is. 45:8; Ps. 18:2: Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour. Ps: The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of His hands. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia: Alleluia, alleluia. Come O Lord, and tarry not: forgive the sins of Thy people Israel. Alleluia.

Incidentally it is also the Fourth Sunday of Advent in the 1962 Missal which uses the text that we know as the first half of the Hail Mary: Offertory: Luke 1:28, 42: Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

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