A Reflection on Advent

Reflect

With the first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new liturgical year, a new journey of faith that, on the one hand, commemorates the incarnation of Jesus Christ and, on the other, opens His life to ultimate fulfillment. It is precisely in this double perspective that we live the season of Advent, looking both to the first coming of the Son of God, when He was born of the Virgin Mary, and to His glorious return, when He will come “to judge the living and the dead”.

Expectation or waiting is a significant dimension of our personal and social existence; it is present in the most banal and in the most important situations in our lives. Many of life’s moments are filled with waiting and expectation: the birth of a child, the visit of a loved one from far away, the outcome of an exam or the result of an interview, the answer to a letter, the hope of forgiveness. One could say that man is alive as long as he waits, as long as hope is alive in his heart. From his expectations man can recognize that his moral and spiritual stature is measured by what he waits for, by what he hopes for.

Each of us, therefore, especially in this season which prepares us for Christmas, can ask himself: what am I waiting for? What, at this moment of my life, does my heart long for? This same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for together? What unites our aspirations; what brings them together? In the time before Jesus’ birth, the expectation of the Messiah was very strong in Israel. It was the expectation that the Anointed One, a descendent of King David, would at last set the people free from every form of moral and political slavery and establish the Kingdom of God.

No one would ever have imagined that the Messiah could be born of a humble girl like Mary, the betrothed of the righteous man Joseph. Nor would she have ever thought of it, yet in her heart the expectation of the Savior was so great, her faith and hope were so ardent, that He was able to find in her a worthy mother. Moreover, God Himself had prepared her before time. There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting of God and that of Mary, the creature “full of grace”, totally transparent to the loving plan of the Most High. Let us learn from her, the Woman of Advent, how to live our daily actions with a new spirit and with the feeling of profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfill.

Act

During Advent, across an expectant world, the light in the darkness shines brightest during the Rorate Mass celebrated in every Fraternity of St. Peter apostolate.

The Rorate Mass is unique to the Extraordinary Form. Originally named for a votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin in Advent, it is traditionally celebrated in the early morning (before sunrise) on Saturdays during Advent, accompanied by candle light in an otherwise dark church. The significance is clear. In the darkness of a fallen world, the candle burns to represent the life of Christ among us. In preparation for the coming of Our Lord, we, like Mary, humble ourselves and prepare to receive this great gift. This period of preparation for the Feast of Christmas is customarily marked by a period of fasting and abstinence from meat known as the Ember Days. The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the second week of December are therefore set aside for special prayer and penance in order to better prepare the mind and body for the great feast of the Incarnation. In this moment of preparation, we get the first gleam of the light to come at the Rorate Mass. Attending Mass and observing the rules of fast on an Ember Day are highly commendable and can help prepare the way to receive Holy Communion more worthily on Christmas Day. Contact your nearest FSSP apostolate for details of their Rorate Mass schedule.

Pray

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

Be not angry, O Lord, and remember no longer our iniquity: behold the city of thy sanctuary is become a desert, Sion is made a desert. Jerusalem is desolate, the house of our holiness and of thy glory, where our fathers praised thee.

We have sinned, and we are become as one unclean, and we have all fallen as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Thou hast hid thy face from us and hast crushed us by the hand of our iniquity.

See, O Lord, the affliction of thy people, and send him whom thou hast promised to send. Send forth the Lamb, the ruler of the earth, from the rock of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion, that he himself may take off the yoke of our captivity.

Be comforted, be comforted, my people; thy salvation shall speedily come. Why wilt thou waste away in sadness? Why hath sorrow seized thee? I will save thee; fear not: for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.