27 Nov First Sunday of Advent
First Sunday of Advent
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877
A New ecclesiastical year! A new year of graces! The festivals of the Church are a spiritual tree, which yearly decks itself with new fruits, by the fresh commemoration of past great events and mysteries; a commemoration, which God blesses with special graces for every child of His Church. The Church, on every festival, prays as if the mystery which she commemorates had taken place that very day. In truth, as St. Augustine says, for God there is but one eternal day. But only those children of the Church gather these yearly fruits, who earnestly prepare themselves for the festival; and the more zealous their efforts, the more abundant their harvest. But just because the year commences with Advent, and because on a good beginning depends, in a great measure, the progress of a work, every Catholic should be anxious to celebrate this day, the first Sunday of Advent, in the spirit of the Church, in order to be animated with her spirit the whole year.
For this end I shall consider today with you the words of the Apostle: “The night is past, the day is at hand.” Mary, Mother of the promised Redeemer, give us thy maternal blessing! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
“The night is past, the day is at hand.” These words of the Apostle the Church today makes her own. The effects of sin are exemplified by the properties of the night.
At night one either does not see objects at all, or sees them indistinctly. Thus also man in the state of sin, either does not see things that concern his salvation, or he does not see them clearly.
At night one does not work; and the same happens in the state of sin. The sinner can gain nothing for eternal life, even should he zealously practice external works of devotion.
At night the beasts of the wilderness prowl in quest of their prey. In the sinner’s heart passions are rampant, and seek for their base gratification.
Night brings sleep to man. Not unlike is the effect of sin on the soul. Sleep, as the proverb says, is the brother of death. The man who sleeps, sees not, hears not, eats not, labors not. Were he to remain always in this condition, he would, in a certain sense, be dead. Not very different is the spiritual state of the sinner.
He sees not; he does not recognize, does not perceive the malice and heinousness of sin. On the contrary, he denies the wickedness of the most abominable sins, pretending that they are but natural weaknesses, or he even praises them as virtues. He calls pride, self-respect; avarice, economy; anger, enmity, and revenge, righteous self-defense; impure attachments, harmless love; fraud, prudence. He looks but seldom into his conscience, and excuses himself as best he can to others and to himself, saying, that he is not so bad, that others are still worse, that he yet hopes to be saved, that God is infinite goodness, forgetting that He is also infinite justice.
Regarding his duties as a Christian, he thinks that he has fulfilled them, because in the morning he makes the sign of the cross, says a few prayers in the evening, hears Mass on Sunday, unless an entertainment or some business, even of small importance, calls him elsewhere, goes to confession once a year through human respect, and receives Holy Communion without devotion or thanksgiving, and, perhaps, even without due preparation. This seems to him sufficient. He forgets that it is the duty of every Christian to strive after sanctity; such an aim he leaves to priests and religious, as something not intended for ordinary Christians. He sleeps.
The sinner hears not. Even should the Holy Ghost admonish him by inspirations, the tumult of temporal business and enjoyment makes him deaf to that voice.
He eats not. He partakes not of the bread of life in order to grow in the imitation of Christ, and endeavors not by the practice of virtue to multiply his treasures and merits for heaven. He sleeps, and dreams of a life far different from that in which he is really engaged. He dreams of a life of ease and comfort in this world, and lives without a thought of approaching eternity. It will be well for him if the threat of divine judgment rouses him from his sleep, and if he obeys the call of the Apostle: “Rise, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ will enlighten thee” (Eph. 5, 14)
As those who sleep dislike to be wakened, so the sinner dislikes all efforts to convert him, or rouse him from the sleep of sin. If he heeds the call of grace and returns, by a sincere conversion, to God, then he suddenly sees and recognizes the evil of his former state. The beauty of virtue reveals itself to him, and he becomes conscious of the necessity of fulfilling all his duties as a Christian. He listens now to the inspirations of the Holy Ghost, and makes use of all the sources of grace in order to live like a child of God.
But that this condition may be lasting, and the conversion be a true one–the contrary of which happens only too often–the Apostle calls to us today: ” Cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light! By the expression: “Cast off,” the Apostle clearly points out the reason why so many presumed conversions are only deceptions. The sinner stops when only half way. He renounces for a time, and under certain circumstances, this or that sin; but no sooner, circumstances changing, do temptations regain their former strength, than he is the same sinner as of old. He renounces sin only partly, that is, he sins not so frequently, or for a time not at all. But he does not avoid new occasions of sin with sufficient care. He does not renounce sin entirely. He remains near it; and it is no wonder that we soon see verified in him the words: “And the last state of that man becometh worse than the first.” No; if our conversion is to be genuine, then we must follow the directions of the Apostle, and cast off the works of darkness. We must cast off not only sin, but also every occasion that leads to it, with that resolution of which Christ speaks to us when He says: “If thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee;” that is, rather suffer temporal injury, rather sacrifice life itself, than commit sin or remain voluntarily in the occasion of doing evil.
But we must not be satisfied with practicing Christian virtues for a time, for the Apostle says: “Put on the armor of light;” which means that we must always and every-where practise those virtues which are required by our station in life, that we must put them on, so to say, like a robe for our soul. In this manner the works of light become at the same time weapons which help us to conquer as children of the Church militant.
Happy the souls who commence this Advent with an earnest will and renewed resolutions, and fulfill this twofold exhortation of the Apostle. They will gather rich fruits from the approaching festival of the Nativity, and they will continue to increase their store during the year they have so well commenced.
Let us begin the work of renovation at once; let us not put it off till the eve of Christmas, as our sluggish nature may suggest. Before the season of preparation is over, we shall have made considerable progress. God grant it! Amen!
“Brethren, it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep.”–Rom. 13, 11.
Again Advent, the time of grace, has arrived. As the life of nature demands the change of seasons that the earth be clothed anew with flowers and fruits, so also the spiritual life in the world of grace demands the renewed consideration of the mysteries of our redemption, as they are placed before our eyes in the order of salvation. These holy mysteries are imaged in the different periods of the year; and here again is verified the word of Holy Writ in praise of the divine wisdom of tint Creator: Who disposes all thing s sweetly, yet powerfully, and in wonderful harmony. It behooves us to co-operate with these dispositions of divine Providence, as Holy Church, our Mother, teaches us and demands of her children. The wish of the Church in regard to the celebration of Advent, is pointed out to us in today’s Epistle and Gospel. Let us meditate on their meaning that we may awake forever from the sleep of sin and its dreams. I said last year that the state of a sinner is a sleep. I say to you this year: The state of the sinner is a dream.
O Mary, conceived without sin, grant that we may during this Advent cleanse our hearts from every stain of evil! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
St. Paul in today s Epistle, illustrates the state of sin from the qualities of night. How? We considered this last year on the first Sunday of Advent. This year I assert that the life of a man in the state of sin, is a dream. To make this my assertion clear by a memorable example, listen to what happened in Belgium in the reign of Philip the Good.
The king, one day found lying in the street a poor man totally intoxicated. He gave orders to have him carried to the palace, to be clothed in new and splendid garments, and to be laid upon the royal bed. When the man awoke, sobered by his sleep, he could not understand his position, and wondered what had happened. He looked around, rubbed his eyes, and could not make out whether he was awake or dreaming. While in this state of astonishment, the servants and courtiers of the king came to him, and, following their master’s instructions, persuaded him that he was really king, and that his former miserable state had been only an illusion. Highly delighted at what he had heard, he passed the day in royal happiness. At night, after he had relapsed through excessive drink into a state of intoxication, the king had him dressed again in his rags, and laid in the street. When he awoke, he thought that only in his dreams he had enjoyed the pleasure of royalty.
Let us now make the application: Man is in a similar condition when asleep in sin. His life is a dream. Let us draw out the comparison, and we shall recognize and admit the truth of this assertion.
He who dreams believes that he is in a different state from that in which he really is. He thinks that he is awake, yet he is not. He thinks that he sees, and yet he does not see. He thinks that he hears, he even sometimes believes that he listens to music and joyful songs, and yet it is all false. He thinks that he eats and drinks, and he does not. He thinks that he speaks sensibly, and he does not speak at all. He thinks that he walks, and he is in bed. He thinks he is well, and perhaps he is sick, very sick. He thinks he is rich, whilst in truth he is poor. Not unlike is the condition of sinners, of whom it is said in the seventy-fifth Psalm: “They have slept their sleep and have found nothing in their hands.”
The pleasures of this world appear to the sinner as the highest attainable good. They seem to him capable of satisfying the longings of his heart. He thinks that he provides for the present and the future; and yet all is deception, vanity of vanities.
And what causes this deception? I answer: Dreams arise because during sleep our excited imagination is not guided by reason and reality. Imagination not guided by reason and faith, makes the life of the sinner a dream.
The dream varies, however, with the nature of the night in which the sinner sleeps. This night is threefold: The night of unbelief–of misbelieve–and of a dead belief.
The unbeliever sleeps in the night of paganism, and he dreams. The sun of faith has not yet risen for him, or else has set again. Hence his degradation, his deception. Instead of being moved by every object that strikes his senses to glorify the Creator, he worships creatures, he idolizes himself.
The misbeliever dreams in the night with which a false creed has obscured his mind. The sunlight of the infallible doctrine of the Church does not shine for him. He thinks that he belongs to the true Church of Christ, that, though voluntarily misbelieving, he will still be saved. He dreams.
The condition in which a child of the Church lives when he is in sin, also resembles a dream. The world has placed itself between him and the sun of faith, like a moon. If in nature an eclipse were lasting, the sun would lose all his power, all his influence over organic life. In the same manner I say: The sinner though a Catholic, dreams. He thinks that, because he is a Catholic and believes, he is on the right path to heaven; but he does not consider the words which St. James uses: “Thou believest. Thou dost well : the devils also believe and tremble. Show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee, by works, my faith” (2, 18). Do you hear, sinner? The faith which your life has dishonored, has become the millstone that draws you still deeper into the abyss of hell.
And how fast is the sleep in which these three kinds of sleepers dream away their lives! Be it the night of unbelief, misbelief, or dead belief, which fills their minds with illusions ; experience teaches how difficult it is to waken them. They like to dream, and resist an awakening. I have met many in my life who slept, and to all appearances dreamed, and it was impossible to rouse them. I called to them as loud as I could, I shook them with all my strength, it was all in vain. I held the light close to their eyes; they smiled in their dream; the light fell on their eyes, but did not open them, and they continued to sleep and to dream.
This is a picture of sinners held captive by the illusions of their state.
Truly it is difficult to convert heathens and unbelievers to the light of faith, if God does not force them, so to say, by a miracle, to recognize the truth. Notwithstanding the numberless miracles which Christ Himself, His apostles, and their followers have wrought in confirmation of the Gospel, entire nations are yet asleep, and after nineteen hundred years almost the half of mankind is still buried in the darkness of unbelief, and dream the strangest dreams.
The same may be said of Jews and heretics. For nineteen hundred years have the former awaited the rising of that Sun which during all these years has sent His beams upon their heads; they still dream of a coming Messiah.
There are heretics who for fifteen hundred years have been separated from the true Church, although every child that believes in Christ must recognize the Catholic Church, because she is the first, as she is the only true Church of Christ. The Lord Himself assures us that: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against her.”
But what shall we say of the blindness of those sinners who are children of the Church? How obstinately they dream in their sleep of sin! What is the cause? St. John answers this question when he says: “Men loved darkness rather than the light” (John 3, 19). Notwithstanding all that is told them and proved to them, they, perhaps, only smile like those who are fast asleep–blink with the eyes of the mind at the light of faith, but do not open them.
May the Lord have pity on them, and give them a love of truth, that they may open the eyes of their mind and save themselves before as the gospel of today threatens the trumpets of the last judgment sound, and they are forced to cry:
Oh, what madness! We have erred, and the light of truth was not within us. Woe to us! The night of despair which now hangs over us is not a dream, it shall last forever!
“Be you like to men who wait for their Lord.”–Luke 12, 36.
Our first parents in Paradise, and through them the entire human race, received the promise of the future Redeemer and Saviour. Four thousand years, however, passed before the Son of God entered the world, in the fullness of time, and accomplished, through His suffering and death, the work of redemption. The world had first to be prepared for His arrival; man had to feel and experience that by himself he is not able to know and serve God, or to regulate his life, as the relation of creature to the Creator demands.
But also in preparation for the second coming of Christ, as Judge of the living and the dead, man ought so to use his time of life, that on the last day he may be able to stand with confidence before the tribunal of his Saviour, and be found worthy to enjoy in His company the fruits of redemption in the kingdom of heaven.
The most necessary preparation for so happy an issue is a longing for His coming, together with solicitude to prepare our hearts for His reception, even in this life.
O Mary, Queen of the prophets, thou who didst unite in thy heart the longing of all the prophets, and who, of all human beings, wast best prepared to receive the Lord, obtain for us grace so to regulate our lives that, when Christ comes to judge the living and the dead, we may be ready! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!
“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” Thus complains the Evangelist. Alas! with how much reason! Notwithstanding the immeasurable wretchedness into which sin had precipitated us, and to redeem us from which Christ came upon earth, the words of the Evangelist were literally fulfilled: “And His own received Him not.” Bethlehem closed its doors against Him, at His birth; Jerusalem disowned Him and nailed Him to the cross. The hearts of the children of Israel, whom God had especially elected, and by the voice of the prophets again and again admonished, were, after four thousand years, not prepared to receive Him.
Neither did the heathen welcome with joy and gratitude the message of His coming. Only too soon did they arise with all the rage of persecutors against the Kingdom of Christ,–against His Holy Church.
All the apostles, whom the Lord sent over the entire world to preach the Gospel, suffered martyrdom. St. John, although not actually deprived of life, was thrown into a caldron of boiling oil, and was saved only by a miracle. Seventeen millions of martyrs shed their blood, before the Romans, as a people, confessed Christ. And how many nations exist, even today, who obstinately refuse to receive the message of salvation!
But, even among those who have had the happiness to become children of the Church through baptism, how many deserve the reproach: “And His own received Him not!” Not to speak of the many people who, by voluntary misbelief, separate themselves from the Church and exclude from their hearts the Lord whom they recognize as their Redeemer; let us particularly think of those who, while to all appearances they belong to the Church, yet, through sin, banish Christ from their hearts.
“The kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord. Thus it should be. As Christ entered the world for the salvation of all mankind, so likewise He came to save each soul, and He, therefore, demands to be received by each one of us. This, however, is the case only when we remain in the state of sanctifying grace, and when we open our hearts to the inspirations of actual grace, to be enlightened and strengthened, that, in following Christ, we may fulfill the most holy will of God, and thus be saved through Christ.
Again and again the Lord’s voice invites each soul; He watches and knocks at the door of our heart, as Holy Writ teaches, and calls out to us: Open–let me enter into thy heart. Christ Himself says: We will come, the Father and I, and make thy heart our abode. This disposition, this care, this co-operation with the grace of the Lord, made the saints what they were.
But how much in this regard is amiss in those, who, though they call themselves children of Holy Church, banish by mortal sin the Lord from their hearts, and do not open them to the inspirations of grace, but listen only to the spirit of the world? Instead of preparing an abode for Christ, they prepare a dwelling for Satan.
And why is it, that so many, while they do not drive Christ by mortal sin from their hearts, yet do not prepare a worthy habitation for Him? Because they do not meditate earnestly and frequently upon the words of the angel to the apostles, on the day of our Lord’s ascension: “This Jesus shall so come again as you have seen Him going into heaven.”
Scripture mentions a twofold coming of Christ upon the earth. One as Redeemer, which, in the fullness of time, has already taken place; the other at the end of the world, when, as Judge, He will demand of every soul an account of the manner in which the graces of redemption have been employed. Hence we also speak of a twofold Advent. The first commenced in paradise with the promise of the Redeemer, and lasted till the Ascension; the second commenced with that day, and will last for each man in particular until death, when Christ will judge him, and for the whole human race together until the day of final reckoning.
Every one must, therefore, prepare himself in the time of Advent, so that when the Lord comes, he may be awake and ready. Hence the often repeated admonition of Christ and His Apostles: “Be prepared!”
But to know in what this preparation consists, we need only think of what we do when we prepare ourselves for the arrival of an expected guest.
We first consider the person who is to come, his dignity, his importance; he may be a king, an emperor, or, perhaps, even the Pope himself. The second thought is of the relationship in which we stand to him ; whether there are ties of love and friendship between us; whether he is a father, brother, friend, or benefactor from whom we have received all we possess, and to whom we owe the happiness of our life; whether he is a man on whose favor our entire future depends–a man to whom we are accountable, who holds in his hands our life, because he is the Judge who is to pass sentence upon us. How all this may be applied to Christ’s coming, is evident.
Jesus, whom we expect, is the King of kings, the Lord of hosts, to whom all power in heaven and upon earth is given. He is the Father who bestowed upon us the right to be children of God, the Brother who divides with us his heritage of glory, the Friend who gave his life for us, the Benefactor from whom we have every gift of body and soul for time and eternity; it is He who will be our Judge, and who will determine our future lot for all eternity. He who will be the Bridegroom of our souls, if He has dwelt in our hearts during our life here below.
With how much solicitude should we endeavor to employ our lives in such a manner that we may be prepared to receive Him with exultation when He comes!
While expecting some one we love, we carefully remove from our dwelling all that might be displeasing to him, and try to procure all that he likes and does him honor.
Applying this to the Advent of our life, I say: Cleanse your heart, especially in this holy season, from all stain of sin. Fill it with fragrant thoughts of longing love, and adorn it with precious jewels of virtue, in order that you may say with David: “My heart is prepared!” Come, O Jesus my Saviour! Amen! (6)
This Sunday, the first of the ecclesiastical year, is called, in the chronicles and charts of the middle ages, Ad te levavi Sunday, from the first words of the Introit (To Thee have I lifted up my soul…); or, Aspiciens a longe, from the first words of the one of the responsories of Matins (Looking from afar, I see the power of God coming…).
The Station is at St. Mary Major's. The Stations, marked in the Roman Missal for certain days in the year, were formerly processions, in which the whole clergy and people of Rome went to some given church, and there celebrated the Office and Mass. This usage, which dates from the earliest period of the Roman Church, and of which St. Gregory the Great was but the restorer, continued to exist in some measure in later times, though with less solemnity and concourse of the people.
It is under the auspices of Mary—in the splendid basilica which possesses the Crib of Bethlehem, and is therefore called, in ancient documents Sancta Maria ad Praesepe—that the Roman Church recommences, each year, the Sacred Cycle. It would have been impossible to select a place more suitable than this for saluting the approach of the Divine Birth, which is to gladden Heaven and earth, and manifest the sublime portent of a Virgin Mother. Let us go in spirit to this august temple, and unite in the prayers which were, for so long a time, being offered up there, and which we will now explain.
In the night Office, the Church commences the reading of the Book of Isaias, who, of all the Prophets, has the most distinctly and explicitly foretold the Messias; and She continues this same Book until Christmas Day inclusively. Let us strive to enter into the teaching of the holy prophet, and let the eye of our faith affectionately recognize the promised Savior in the descriptions, sometimes consoling and sometimes terrifying, under which Isaias depicts Him.
The first words of the Church, in the still of midnight, are these: Regem venturum Dominum, venite adoremus. Come, let us adore our Lord and King, Who is about to come to us.
This first duty of adoration complied with, let us listen to the oracle of the prophet Isaias, delivered to us by the Holy Church:
The vision of Isaias, the son of Amos, which he saw concerning Juda and Jerusalem, in the days of Ozias, Joathan, Achaz, and Ezechias, kings of Juda. Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken: I have brought up children, and exalted them: but they have despised Me. The ox knoweth his Owner, and the ass his Master's crib: but Israel hath not known Me, and My people hath not understood. Woe to the sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a wicked seed, ungracious children. They have forsaken the Lord, they have blasphemed the Holy One of Israel, they are gone away backwards. For what shall I strike you any more, you that increase transgression? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is sad. From the sole of the foot unto the top of the head, there is no soundness therein; wounds, and bruises, and swelling sores; they are not bound up, nor dressed, nor fomented with oil.
These words of the holy prophet, or rather of God Who speaks to us by the prophet, should make a deep impression on the children of the Church, at this opening of the holy period of Advent. Who could hear without trembling this voice of Our Lord, Who is despised and unknown, even at the very time when He is coming to visit His people? Lest men should be terrified at the splendor of His majesty, He divested Himself of it; and far from acknowledging the divine power of Him Who thus humbled Himself out of love for them, these men have refused even to know Him; and the crib where He lay after His birth, had, at first, but two dumb animals to honor or notice it (aside from His Mother and St. Joseph). Do you feel, Christians, how just are the complaints which your God here makes? And how your indifference for all His love is an insult? He calls Heaven and earth to witness; He utters anathema against the sinful nation, His ungrateful children. Let us honestly confess that we, too, have not known the value of our Jesus' visit to us, and that we have but too faithfully imitated the obduracy of the Jews, who heeded not the bright light when it burst upon their darkness. In vain did the angels sing on that December night; in vain did shepherds receive and welcome the invitation to adore the Babe and know Him; in vain did the Magi come from the East, asking where they were to find the crib of the King that was born. At this last example, the city of Jerusalem was somewhat moved; but the astonishment was only for a moment, and the old indifference soon stifled the good tidings.
Thus it is, O Jesus, that Thou comest unto darkness, and darkness does not comprehend Thee. We beseech Thee, let our darkness comprehend the Light, and desire it. The day will come when Thou wilt disperse the spiritual and voluntary darkness of men by the awful light of Thy justice. Thy glory, O sovereign Judge, will be magnificent on that day, and we love to think upon Thy having it; but during these days of our life on earth, deliver us from Thy wrath. We are one great wound from the sole of the foot unto the top of the head; Thou knowest not where to strike: be then a Savior, O Jesus, in this Advent, for which we are now preparing. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is sad; come, and raise up this head which shame and vile passions bow down to the earth. Come, and comfort this heart oppressed with sin and fear. We confess it, our wounds are deep and sore; come, Thou good Samaritan, pour in Thy soothing oil and heal them.
The whole world is in expectation of its Redeemer; come, dear Jesus, show Thyself to it by granting it salvation. The Church, Thy Bride, is now commencing another year, and Her first word is to Thee, a word which She speaks in the anxious solicitude of a mother for the safety of her children; She cries out to Thee, saying, “Come!” No, we will go no farther in our journey through the desert of this life without Thee, O Jesus! Time is passing quickly away from us; our day is perhaps far spent, and the shades of our life's night are fast coming on; arise, O divine Sun of justice. Come! guide our steps and save us from eternal death.
The Epistle is from St. Paul to the Romans, Ch. 13:
Brethren, know that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Savior, then, who is coming to us is the clothing which we are to put on over our spiritual nakedness. Here let us admire the goodness of God, Who, remembering that man hid himself after his sin, because he was naked, vouchsafes Himself to become man's clothing, and to cover with the robe of His Divinity the misery of human nature. Let us, therefore, be on the watch for the day and the hour when He will come to us, and take precautions against the drowsiness which comes of custom and self-indulgence. The light will soon appear; may its first rays be witness of our innocence, or at least of our repentance. If our Savior is coming to put over our sins a covering which is to hide them forever, the least that we, on our part, can do, is to retain no further affection for those sins, else it will be said of us that we refused salvation. The last words of this Epistle are those which caught the eye of St. Augustine, when, after a long resistance to the grace which pressed him to give himself to God, he resolved to obey the voice which said to him: “Tolle, lege; take and read.” They decided his conversion; he immediately resolved to abandon the worldly life he had hitherto led, and to put on Christ Jesus. Let us begin this very day, and imitate this Saint. Let us long for that dear and glorious clothing with which the mercy of our heavenly Father is so soon to cover us; and let us say with the Church these touching words of the Gradual, which we cannot repeat too often during this time of the year:
None of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded, O Lord. Show, O Lord, Thy ways to me: and teach me Thy paths. Alleluia, alleluia. Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy: and grant us Thy salvation. Alleluia.
In the Gospel of today, taken from St. Luke, Ch. 21, Holy Church turns Her attention to the Second Coming of Christ:
At that time: Jesus said to His disciples: There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea, and of the waves; men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world: for the powers of the heavens shall be moved; and then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption is at hand…
Thou art to come, then, O Jesus, in all the terror of the Last Judgment, and when men least expect Thee. In a few days Thou art coming to us to clothe our misery with the garment of Thy mercy; a garment of glory and immortality to us; but Thou art to come again on a future day, and in such dread majesty that men will wither away with fear. O our Savior! condemn us not on that day of the world's destruction. Visit us now in Thy love and mercy; we are resolved to prepare our souls. We desire that Thou shouldst come and be born within us, so that when the convulsions of nature warn us of Thy coming to judge us, we may lift up our heads, as Thou biddest Thy faithful disciples do, who, when the rest of men shall tremble at the thunder of Thy judgment, will have confidence in Thee, because they have Thee in their hearts. (1)
Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff