Monday, December 22, 2008

The 4th Week of Advent: "Now All is Fulfilled"

No new avenues remain to be explored in our preparation for Christmas during this fourth week of Advent, for the Church already has unfolded her entire Advent message. She has led us to the threshold of Christmas with the joyous cry, "Rejoice, for the Lord is near!", and more especially by the Ember Day observance. The liturgy has defined the picture of Christ the Savior as clearly as it can for the time. On this last Sunday, therefore, all the themes of Advent are re-echoed in one harmonious strain by our three Advent preachers. (This last week is usually cut short by the occurrence of Christmas and its succession of feasts.)

The Sunday Office begins with Vespers on Saturday. The antiphons convey our expectancy and intense desire for the Redeemer. The watchman in his tower gives the signal for the King's arrival: "Blow the trumpet in Sion, for the day of the Lord is near! Behold, He comes to save us, alleluia, alleluia." Eagerly we inquire, who is this King ? "Behold, He is coming whom all nations desire; and the house of the Lord will be filled with glory, alleluia." What will happen when He comes ? "The crooked will be made straight, and the rough places even. Come, Lord, and delay no longer, alleluia."

Already the procession which is to meet Him is forming: "The Lord is coming! Go out to meet Him and say: Now we have the great beginning, and Your kingdom will never end. You are the mighty God, the Ruler, the Prince of Peace, alleluia, alleluia." So far the direct object of our expectancy was the Redeemer's coming; now we lift our eyes to heaven and say: "Your almighty Word, Lord, will leap down out of your royal throne, alleluia." The Chapter with its concern over priestly duties recalls the ordinations of Ember Saturday.

From The Church's Year of Grace: Advent to Candlemas, -Fr Dr Pius Parsch
(The text is based upon the traditional liturgy.)