Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Fine End to Advent

To-day is the Vigil of Christmas in the old rite: a strange Vigil, already shot through with the anticipated joy of Christmas, since - though at Matins the ferial psalms are read, as normally for vigils - all the Day Hours use the psalms of Sundays and feasts.

I again was just a little late in arriving for Mass in the new rite this morning, slipping into the pew as the first reading's title was read... this at least gave me reason to quietly read the traditional Collect pro pia devotione, which is used through the Hours of the Office until Vespers:

Deus, qui nos redemptionis nostræ annua expectatione lætificas: præsta; ut Unigenitum tuum, quem Redemptorem læti suscipimus, venientem quoque judicem securi videamus, Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum: Qui tecum vivit...

(God, Who dost gladden us by the yearly expectation of our redemptin: grant, that Thy Onlybegotten, Whom we joyfully receive as Redeemer, we also may securely behold as the coming Judge, Our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who with Thee liveth...)

What an excellent prayer! It sums up both our Advent recapitulation of the desire of the ages for the coming of Christ as Redeemer, Whom again as our Redeemer here and now we celebrate in this feast, and moreover our looking forward to His return as our Judge, praying that on that Day we will receive him without shame.

Our awareness of the mystery and solemnity of weekday Mass at St Francis -our daily encounter with our Redeemer, yes, and our coming Judge - has been heightened, I would add, by the simple expedient of the singing of the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in the simplest of chant: it really helps.

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