I Sunday of Advent

For us Catholics, the new Liturgical Year commences with the first Sunday of Advent. In this new liturgical year, the Church not only wishes to indicate the beginning of a period, but the beginning of a renewed commitment to the faith by all those who follow Christ, the Lord. This time of prayer and path of penance that is so powerful, rich and intense, endeavors to give us a renewed impetus to truly welcome the message of the One who was incarnated for us. In fact, the entire Liturgy of the Advent Season, will spur us to an awakening in our Christian life and will put us in a ‘vigilant’ disposition, to wait for Our Lord Jesus who is coming. (Excerpted from the website of the Congregation for the Clergy)

 

 

Prayer for the Lighting of the Advent Wreath - First Week

Scripture (John 1:1-5; Psalm 49:2-5, 71:2-8, 8-15):
John 1:1-5: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Psalm 50:2-5: From Zion God shines forth. perfect in beauty. Our God comes and will not be silent! Devouring fire precedes, storming fiercely round about. God summons the heavens above and the earth to the judgment of his people: "Gather my faithful ones before me, those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice."

Psalm 72:2-8, 8-15: O God, give your judgment to the king; your justice to the son of kings; that he may govern your people with justice, your oppressed with right judgment, that the mountains may yield their bounty for the people, and the hills great abundance, that he may defend the oppressed among the people, save the poor and crush the oppressor. May he live as long as the sun endures, like the moon, through all generations. May he be like rain coming down upon the fields, like showers watering the earth, that abundance may flourish in his days, great bounty, till the moon be no more. May he rule from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth. May he rule from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth. May his foes kneel before him, his enemies lick the dust. May the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute, the kings of Arabia and Seba offer gifts. May all kings bow before him, all nations serve him. For he rescues the poor when they cry out, the oppressed who have no one to help. He shows pity to the needy and the poor and saves the lives of the poor. From extortion and violence he frees them, for precious is their blood in his sight. Long may he live, receiving gold from Arabia, prayed for without cease, blessed day by day.

Blessing:
Father: Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come: that from the threatening dangers of our sins we may deserve to be rescued by Thy protection, and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end.

R. Amen.

Father: Alleluia, alleluia. Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy; and grant us Thy salvation. Alleluia.

 



LIturgy of the Hours for the First Sunday of Advent

1st Reading
Isaiah 1:1-18

2nd Reading
The twofold coming of Christ - St. Cyril of Jerusalem

We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom. In general, whatever relates to our Lord Jesus Christ has two aspects. There is a birth from God before the ages, and a birth from a virgin at the fullness of time. There is a hidden coming, like that of rain on fleece, and a coming before all eyes, still in the future. At the first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels. We look then beyond the first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. At the second we shall say it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. The Saviour will not come to be judged again, but to judge those by whom he was judged. At his own judgement he was silent; then he will address those who committed the outrages against him when they crucified him and will remind them: You did these things, and I was silent.His first coming was to fulfil his plan of love, to teach men by gentle persuasion. This time, whether men like it or not, they will be subjects of his kingdom by necessity. The prophet Malachi speaks of the two comings. And the Lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple: that is one coming. Again he says of another coming: Look, the Lord almighty will come, and who will endure the day of his entry, or who will stand in his sight? Because he comes like a refiner’s fire, a fuller’s herb, and he will sit refining and cleansing.These two comings are also referred to by Paul in writing to Titus: The grace of God the Saviour has appeared to all men, instructing us to put aside impiety and worldly desires and live temperately, uprightly, and religiously in this present age, waiting for the joyful hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Notice how he speaks of a first coming for which he gives thanks, and a second, the one we still await. That is why the faith we profess has been handed on to you in these words: He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.Our Lord Jesus Christ will therefore come from heaven. He will come at the end of the world, in glory, at the last day. For there will be an end to this world, and the created world will be made new.

 

 

I Sunday of Advent

First Reading
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot ; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: "The LORD our justice."

Responsorial Psalm Ps. 25, 4bc-5ab. 8-9. 10 and 14.
R/ To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.

All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.

Second Reading
Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Finally, brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

Gospel
Jesus said to his disciples: "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man."

Commentary on the Readings
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa - Preacher of the Papal Household

I Sunday of Advent (Cycle C) Jeremiah 33: 14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:12 - 4:2; Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36.

Autumn is the ideal time to meditate on human things. We have before us the annual spectacle of leaves that fall from the trees. This has always been seen as an image of human destiny. “Here we are as leaves on the trees in autumn,” says the poet Giuseppe Ungaretti. A generation comes, a generation goes …

But is this truly our ultimate destiny? Is it worse than the fate of these trees? After it is stripped, the tree regains its leaves in spring. But man, once he passes, never again returns. At least he does not return to this world. … Sunday’s readings help us to give an answer to this most anxious of human questions.

There was a particular scene that I remember seeing in a film or reading about it in an adventure story as a child, a scene that left a deep impression. A railroad bridge had collapsed during the night. An unsuspecting train is coming at full speed. A railroad worker standing on the tracks calls out: “Stop! Stop!” and waves a lantern to signal the danger. But the distracted engineer does not see him and plunges the train into the river. … It seems to me something of an image of contemporary society, careening frenetically to the rhythm of rock ‘n’ roll, ignoring all the warnings that come not only from the Church but from many people who feel a responsibility for the future …

With the First Sunday of Advent, a new liturgical year begins. The Gospel that will accompany us in the course of this year, Cycle C, is the Gospel of St. Luke. The Church takes the occasion of these important moments of passage — from one year to another, from one season to another — to invite us to stop for a moment and reflect and ask ourselves some essential questions: “Who are we? From whence do we come? And, above all, where are we going?”

In the readings of Sunday’s Mass, the verbs are in the future tense. In the First Reading we hear these words of Jeremiah: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot. …” To this expectation, realized in the coming of the Messiah, the Gospel passage brings a new horizon and content which is the glorious return of Christ at the end of time. “The powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

These are apocalyptic, catastrophic tones and images. But what we have is a message of consolation and hope. They tell us that we are not heading for an eternal void and an eternal silence but we are on our way to an encounter, an encounter with him who created us and loves us more than mother and father.

Elsewhere the Book of Revelation describes this final event of history as an entering into a wedding feast. Just recall the parable of the ten virgins who enter with the bridegroom into the banquet hall, or the image of God who, at the threshold of the life to come, waits for us to wipe away the last tear from our eyes.

From the Christian point of view, the whole of human history is one long wait. Before Christ, his coming was awaited; after him, we await his glorious return at the end of time. For just this reason the season of Advent has something very important to say to us about our lives. A great Spanish author, Calderón de la Barca, wrote a celebrated play called “Life is a Dream.” With just as much truth it must be said that life is expectation! It is interesting that this is exactly the theme of one of the most famous plays of our times: Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” …

Of a woman who is with child it is said that she is “expecting”; the offices of important persons have “waiting rooms.” But if we reflect on it, life itself is a waiting room. We get impatient when we have to wait, for a visit, for a practice. But woe to him who is no longer waiting for something. A person who no longer expects anything from life is dead. Life is expectation, but the converse is also true: Expectation is life!

What distinguishes the waiting of the believer from every other waiting; from, for example, that of the two characters who are waiting for Godot? In that play a mysterious person is awaited (who, according to some, would be God, hence, “God-ot”), without any certainty that he will really come. He was supposed to come in the morning; he sends word to say that he will come in the afternoon. In the afternoon he does not come, but surely he will come in the evening, and in the evening, perhaps tomorrow morning. … The two tramps are condemned to wait for him, they have no other alternative.

This is not how it is for the Christian. He awaits one who has already come and who walks by his side. For this reason after the First Sunday of Advent in which the final return of Christ is looked for, on the following Sundays we will hear John the Baptist who speaks of his presence among us: “In your midst,” he says, “there is one whom you do not know!” Jesus is present among us not only in the Eucharist, in the word, in the poor, in the Church … but, by grace, he lives in our hearts and the believer experiences this.

The Christian’s waiting is not empty, a letting the time pass. In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus also talks about the way that the disciples must wait, how they must conduct themselves in the meantime to not be taken by surprise: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life. … Be vigilant at all times.”

Of these moral duties we will speak another time. Let us conclude with a memory from a film. There are two big stories about icebergs in the movies. The one is that of the Titanic, which we know well. … The other is narrated in a Kevin Kostner film of several years back, “Rapa Nui.” A legend of Easter Island, which is in the Pacific Ocean, tells of an iceberg that, in reality, is a ship and that passes close to the island every century or so. The king or hero can climb aboard and ride toward the kingdom of immortality.

There is an iceberg that runs across the course which each of us travel; it is sister death. We can pretend to not see her or to be heedless of her like the people who were enjoying themselves on that tragic night aboard the Titanic. Or we can make ourselves ready and climb onto her and let ourselves be taken to the Kingdom of the blessed. The season of Advent should also serve this purpose

 

Liturgy of the Hours for:

Monday of the First week of Advent

FIRST READING: Isaiah 1: 21-27; 2: 1-5

SECOND READING From a pastoral letter by Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop
The season of Advent

Beloved, now is the acceptable time spoken of by the Spirit, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation: the great season of Advent. This is the time eagerly awaited by the patriarchs and prophets, the time that holy Simeon rejoiced at last to see. This is the season that the Church has always celebrated with special solemnity. We too should always observe it with faith and love, offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the mercy and love he has shown us in this mystery. In his infinite love for us, though we were sinners, he sent his only Son to free us from the tyranny of Satan, to summon us to heaven, to welcome us into its innermost recesses, to show us truth itself, to train us in right conduct, to plant within us the seeds of virtue, to enrich us with the treasures of his grace, and to make us children of God and heirs of eternal life.

Each year, as the Church recalls this mystery, she urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us. This holy season teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of his contemporaries; his power has still to be communicated to us all. We shall share his power, if, through holy faith and the sacraments, we willingly accept the grace Christ earned for us, and live by that grace and in obedience to Christ.

The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace.

In her concern for our salvation, our loving mother the Church uses this holy season to teach us through hymns, canticles and other forms of expression, of voice or ritual, used by the Holy Spirit. She shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit: our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if he were still to come into this world. The same lesson is given us for our imitation by the words and example of the holy men of the Old Testament.

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

FIRST READING from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 2:6-22; 4:2-6

SECOND READING from the Sermons of St. Gregory Nanzianzen, Bishop (Sermon 45, 9. 22. 26. 28: PG 36, 634-635. 654. 653-659. 662)

The wonder of the Incarnation

The very Son of God, older than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like. He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin. He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honour, virginity had to receive new honour. He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it. He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness. What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me? I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first. Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son. The Son arranged this for the honour of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things. The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice. When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven. Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him. The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom’s friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit. We needed God to take our flesh and die, that we might live. We have died with him, that we may be purified. We have risen again with him, because we have died with him. We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.

Wendesday of the First Week of Advent

FIRST READING from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 5:1-7

SECOND READING from the Sermons of St. Bernard, Abbot

Let the word of the Lord come to us

We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold: the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are. At his first coming the Lord was seen on earth and lived among men, who saw him and hated him. At his last coming All flesh shall see the salvation of our God, and They shall look on him whom they have pierced. In the middle, the hidden coming, only the chosen see him, and they see him within themselves; and so their souls are saved. The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty. This middle coming is like a road that leads from the first coming to the last. At the first, Christ was our redemption; at the last, he will become manifest as our life; but in this middle way he is our rest and our consolation.If you think that I am inventing what I am saying about the middle coming, listen to the Lord himself: If anyone loves me, he will keep my words, and the Father will love him, and we shall come to him. Elsewhere I have read: Whoever fears the Lord does good things. – but I think that what was said about whoever loves him was more important: that whoever loves him will keep his words. Where are these words to be kept? In the heart certainly, as the Prophet says I have hidden your sayings in my heart so that I do not sin against you. Keep the word of God in that way: Blessed are those who keep it. Let it penetrate deep into the core of your soul and then flow out again in your feelings and the way you behave; because if you feed your soul well it will grow and rejoice. Do not forget to eat your bread, or your heart will dry up. Remember, and your soul will grow fat and sleek.If you keep God’s word like this, there is no doubt that it will keep you, for the Son will come to you with the Father: the great Prophet will come, who will renew Jerusalem, and he is the one who makes all things new. For this is what this coming will do: just as we have been shaped in the earthly image, so will we be shaped in the heavenly image. Just as the old Adam was poured into the whole man and took possession of him, so in turn will our whole humanity be taken over by Christ, who created all things, has redeemed all things, and will glorify all things.

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

FIRST READING from the book of the Prophet Isaiah 16:1-5; 17:4-8

SECOND READING from the Commentary of St. Ephrem, Deacon, on the Diatessaron

Keep watch: he is to come again
To prevent his disciples from asking the time of his coming, Christ said: About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments. He has kept those things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day. If he had revealed the time of his coming, his coming would have lost its savour: it would no longer be an object of yearning for the nations and the age in which it will be revealed. He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations and ages await him eagerly.
Though the Lord has established the signs of his coming, the time of their fulfilment has not been plainly revealed. These signs have come and gone with a multiplicity of change; more than that, they are still present. His final coming is like his first. As holy men and prophets waited for him, thinking that he would reveal himself in their own day, so today each of the faithful longs to welcome him in his own day, because Christ has not made plain the day of his coming.
He has not made it plain for this reason especially, that no one may think that he whose power and dominion rule all numbers and times is ruled by fate and time. He described the signs of his coming; how could what he has himself decided be hidden from him? Therefore, he used these words to increase respect for the signs of his coming, so that from that day forward all generations and ages might think that he would come again in their own day.
Keep watch; when the body is asleep nature takes control of us, and what is done is not done by our will but by force, by the impulse of nature. When deep listlessness takes possession of the soul, for example, faint-heartedness or melancholy, the enemy overpowers it and makes it do what it does not will. The force of nature, the enemy of the soul, is in control.
When the Lord commanded us to be vigilant, he meant vigilance in both parts of man: in the body, against the tendency to sleep; in the soul, against lethargy and timidity. As Scripture says: Wake up, you just, and I have risen, and am still with you; and again, Do not lose heart. Therefore, having this ministry, we do not lose heart.

FRIDAY of the First Week of Advent

FIRST READING from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 19:16-25

SECOND READING from the Proslogion of St. Anselm, Bishop

The Desire to Contemplate God

Insignificant man, rise up! Flee your preoccupations for a little while. Hide yourself for a time from your turbulent thoughts. Cast aside, now, your heavy responsibilities and put off your burdensome business. Make a little space free for God; and rest for a little time in him.

Enter the inner chamber of your mind; shut out all thoughts. Keep only thought of God, and thoughts that can aid you in seeking him. Close your door and seek him. Speak now, my whole heart! Speak now to God, saying, I seek your face; your face, Lord, will I seek.

And come you now, O Lord my God, teach my heart where and how it may seek you, where and how it may find you.

Lord, if you are not here, where shall I seek you when you are absent? But if you are everywhere, why do I not see you present? Truly you dwell in unapproachable light. But where is unapproachable light, or how shall I come to it? Or who shall lead me to that light and into it, that I may see you in it? Again, by what signs, under what form, shall I seek you? I have never seen you, O Lord, my God; I do not know your face.

What, O most high Lord, shall this man do, an exile far from you? What shall your servant do, anxious in his love of you, and cast out far from your presence? He is breathless with desire to see you, and your face is too far from him. He longs to come to you, and your dwelling-place is inaccessible. He is eager to find you, but does not know where. He desires to seek you, and does not know your face.

Lord, you are my God, and you are my Lord, and never have I seen you. You have made me and renewed me, you have given me all the good things that I have, and I have not yet met you. I was created to see you, and I have not yet done the thing for which I was made.

And as for you, Lord, how long? How long, O Lord, do you forget us; how long do you turn your face from us? When will you look upon us, and hear us? When will you enlighten our eyes, and show us your face? When will you restore yourself to us?

Look upon us, Lord; hear us, enlighten us, reveal yourself to us. Restore yourself to us, that it may be well with us, yourself, without whom it is so ill with us. Pity our toilings and strivings toward you since we can do nothing without you.

Teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, nor find you unless you reveal yourself. Let me seek you in longing, let me long for you in seeking; let me find you by loving you and love you in the act of finding you.

SATURDAY of the First Week of Advent

FIRST READING from the book of the Prophet Isaiah 21: 6- 12

SECOND READING from the Treatise of St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr

Hope Sustains Us

Patience is a precept for salvation given us by our Lord our teacher: Whoever endures to the end will be saved. And again: If you persevere in my word, you will truly be my disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Dear brethren, we must endure and persevere if we are to attain the truth and freedom we have been allowed to hope for; faith and hope are the very meaning of our being Christians, but if faith and hope are to bear their fruit, patience is necessary.

We do not seek glory now, in the present, but we look for future glory, as Saint Paul instructs us when he says: By hope we were saved. Now hope which is seen is not hope; how can a man hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it in patience. Patient waiting is necessary if we are to be perfected in what we have begun to be, and if we are to receive from God what we hope for and believe.

In another place the same Apostle instructs and teaches the just, and those active in good works, and those who store up for themselves treasures in heaven through the reward God gives them. They are to be patient also, for he says: Therefore while we have time, let us do good to all, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith. But let us not grow weary in doing good, for we shall reap our reward in due season.

Paul warns us not to grow weary in good works through impatience, not to be distracted or overcome by temptations and so give up in the midst of our pilgrimage of praise and glory, and allow our past good deeds to count for nothing because what was begun falls short of completion.

Finally the Apostle, speaking of charity, unites it with endurance and patience. Charity, he says, is always patient and kind; it is not jealous, is not boastful, is not given to anger, does not think evil, loves all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He shows that charity can be steadfast and persevering because it has learned how to endure all things.

And in another place he says: Bear with one another lovingly, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He shows that neither unity nor peace can be maintained unless the brethren cherish each other with mutual forbearance and preserve the bond of harmony by means of patience.

 


Return to Main Page...
www.piercedhearts.org

This page is the work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary