Tag Archives: Advent

Gaudete Sunday: Rejoice!

Our Lady of JoyThe Church celebrates the third Sunday of Advent today. It is known as Gaudete Sunday because the opening words of the Mass coming from Scripture, “Rejoice”, coming from the Latin Gaudete –rejoice — is  the entrance antiphon for today and the controlling idea of the second reading from Philippians in Year C of the lectionary cycle (“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice! The Lord is near!).

On Gaudete Sunday the priest may wear either violet or rose vestments and we light the rose candle on the wreath. This custom of rose vestments is a 10th century practice (one that we observe on the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday). In the season of Advent, the color rose is a sign of anticipatory Christmas joy as it also marks the midpoint of Advent.

Up to December 16 the Liturgy focuses our attention and preparation on Lord’s coming at the end of time; then as time nears the Nativity (December 17-24) we begin to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ Nativity on the feast of Christmas.

Joy is the basic Christian attitude; no joy, no true and authentic Christian discipleship. Mary, the Mother of God is also the first disciple of joy! Even she is clad in rose!!!!

Seeking the “one who is greater”

Prophet John the BaptistToday, we locate ourselves in the second week of Advent. (I hope I am more centered this week than I was last.) The Church hears from the Lord’s cousin, the Forerunner and Prophet John the Baptist in the gospel reading. Saint John is rather mysterious and yet he’s an attractive figure who has the unique work of pointing us to the Kingdom of God unfolding in front of us; he also points out the Messiah. That’s exactly what we attempt to do within the various communities to which we belong: family, parish, religious, work, and social.

The mature Christian (or the one who takes his or her spiritual life we seriousness) takes up the Baptist’s work of doing what he did: bring others to the Lord. Each with his own work. The outward role in salvation history of Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna are very different, as is with John the Baptist, but also with each one of us sharing the Good News.

We seek and serve  and love “one who is greater than us.”

First Sunday of Advent

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx writes,

“Advent calls to mind the two comings of our Lord: the first coming of the ‘fairest of the sons of men’ and ‘the desire of all nations’, so long awaited and so fervently prayed for by all when the Son of God graciously revealed to the world his visible presence in the flesh, that is, when he came into the world to save sinners; the other that second coming to which we look forward no less than did the people of old. While we await his return our hope is sure and firm, yet we also frequently remind ourselves of the day when he who first came to us concealed in our flesh will come again revealed in the glory which belongs to him as Lord…How beautifully then at this season the Church provides that we should recite the words and recall the longing of those who lived before our Lord’s first advent!”

First Sunday of Advent 2014

The meaning of Advent has to reorient our perspective, our longing,our hope in the Messiah. We come to this point in the liturgical year, the first day in fact, of the new year, hoping for renewal and the reverberation of the heart meeting Christ. St. Augustine offers us a way of understanding the place of the Messiah in our life.

“The first coming of Christ the Lord, God’s son and our God,was in obscurity. The second will be in sight of the whole world. When he came in obscurity, no one recognized him but his own servants. When he comes openly, he will be known by both the good and the bad. When he came in obscurity, it was to be judged. When he comes openly, it will be to judge. He was silent at his trial, as the prophet foretold…Silent when accused, he will not be silent as judge. Even now he does not keep silent, if there is anyone to listen. But it says he will not keep silent then, because his voice will be acknowledged even by those who despise it.” (Sermons 18.1-2)

O Emmanuel

O EMMANUEL [God with us], our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of nations and their Savior: COME,and save us, O Lord our God!

The following commentary adapted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Fr Pius Parsch (The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 1959):

In the previous six antiphons, our cry was directed to the Messiah as He manifested Himself to the Chosen People, to the Gentiles, and in nature; now He is addressed in person and asked to remain with us as Emmanuel. Reading this final antiphon gives the feeling that a climax has indeed come. The very term Emmanuel [God with us] reveals the kindly, human heart of Jesus–He wants to be one of us, a Child of Man, with all our human weaknesses and suffering; He wants to experience how hard it is to be human. He wants to remain with us to the end of time; He wants to dwell within us, to make us sharers of His nature.

Besides the main title, the Savior is invoked by four other names.

(1) King and Lawgiver are common enough, and the combination is found in Isaiah 32:22: “The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver; the Lord is our King. He will save us.” This is a joyous expression of faith and confidence. Christ functions in all these roles for our benefit. Whatever a lawgiver like Moses, a judge like Samuel, a king like David, accomplished for the good and glory of their people, that and far more the expected Savior will accomplish for us.

(2) The Messiah is next hailed as the expectation of the Gentiles and their Savior. Remember Jacob’s dying words: “The scepter will not pass from Judah, nor a ruler from his thigh, till He comes that is to be sent. He is the expectation of all the nations.” (Genesis 49:10)

The antiphon petitions: COME AND SAVE US! King, let me be Your vassal; Lawgiver, let me be Your servant; Expected Savior, let my longings be fulfilled in You. Our song closes with the words, “O Lord our God!” It is a phrase summarizing all the names and titles used in the O-Antiphons. May our hearts be always so disposed as to use the invocations sincerely and confidently.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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