"O Antiphon" for December 23rd
O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Day-Spring, splendor of Eternal Light, and Sun of Justice,
Come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
"O Antiphon" for December 21st
As sung by the Dominican student brothers in Oxford
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just:
let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior."
Rorate, caeli, desuper, et nebes pluant justum,
aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem."
~ Introit from the Advent Ember Wednesday Mass
Situated at the heart of this season of expectation, the Advent Ember days have a Marian tone. The Gospels for Ember Wednesday and Friday, the Annunciation and Visitation, highlight Our Lady's preeminent role in our salvation. Today's Mass, that of Ember Wednesday, is full of Marian references and is dearly loved by the community. It is traditionally the first time in the liturgical year that the Gospel of the Annunciation is proclaimed, pointing us to the imminent coming of our Savior. Falling the day after the feast of St. Lucy, the virgin of light who announces the coming of the Light, our Mass is illuminated by candles alone. The soft glow of the candles and the gentle beauty of the sung Mass seem to enrich and enhance the intrinsically rich texts of the Mass and aid the soul to enter into communion with its Divine Spouse. May we, like our Lady, ever offer Him a home in our hearts!
"Oh, come Divine Messiah, the world in silence waits the day when hope shall sing its triumph and sadness flee away! Sweet Savior haste! Come, come, to earth! Dispel the night and show Thy face and bid us hail the dawn of grace..."
God the Father imparted to Mary his fruitfulness as far as a mere creature was capable of receiving it, to enable her to bring forth his Son and all the members of his mystical body.
God the Son came down into her virginal womb as a new Adam into his earthly paradise, to take his delight there and produce hidden wonders of grace.
God-made-man found freedom in imprisoning himself in her womb. He displayed power in allowing himself to be borne by this young maiden. He found his glory and that of his Father in hiding his splendors from all creatures here below and revealing them only to Mary.
-St Louis Marie de Montfort True Devotion to Mary
O Come, O come Emmanuel! And ransom captive Israel.
Our monthly devotion for December is to the Divine Infancy of Jesus, our king who saves us from sin.
He came not in glory and majesty, but to a cold and lowly manger to show us the way back to God. This way He gave us is that of pure, and simple love. A love without measure or limit, a love that always seeks the good of others. So we should also always try to do the same in our own lives, growing closer to God and seeking ways to show love for others. God did not have to send His son to earth to give us a model for our lives. Yet He did… Why? Because He loves us.
As we await the coming of Christ at Christmas, let us pray that this year, we will love Him more than ever before. He loves us so much, may we show our love for God and neighbor by practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, recommitting our hearts and minds to seeking God’s will.
When we take a few extra minutes to pray each day it reminds us of all that God has done for us, and deepens our relationship with Him. By fasting we chose to deny ourselves something so that we can begin to overcome our passions. Finally when we give alms to someone it has a double effect, it helps care for their physical needs (a corporal work of mercy), and at the same time it can help keep our hearts detached from the things of this world.
All of our sacrifices during the Advent season, are intended to prepare us to participate fully in the joy of Christmas. That day when God’s Son came to earth, and fulfilled the promise He had made. For any important event in our lives we take time to prepare beforehand, if we are expecting company for dinner we carefully plan the menu ahead of time, if we are planning a party it may involve a great deal of effort. So this Advent, we should take time to prepare before the great celebration of Jesus’s birth. Each small sacrifice we make to prepare the way for God will delight the heart of Jesus, so let us set out on this road with all the love of our hearts.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which
the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary,
at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my
desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ
and of His Blessed Mother.
The above prayer is a traditional prayer for the Advent season and a beautiful way to prepare one's heart for the coming of Christ at Christmas. It is piously believed that that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the Feast of St. Andrew until Christmas will obtain what is asked. Even if said once daily - once at all! - with a pure and loving heart, this prayer would be a wonderful addition to one's Advent prayers.
May all of our hearts be open to Christ's coming - at Christmas, in the Sacraments, and at the end of time.
Part of our charism as Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa is to live the fullness of the liturgical life. This is seen in our love for both forms of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but it encompasses even more. The liturgical seasons inform our daily lives. The Sisters strive to live these seasons - both exteriorly and interiorly and Advent is certainly no exception!
If you were to walk into our convent, it probably would not take long to discern the liturgical season. In the chapel you would see the slight starkness and purple of the penitential season. A few steps past the chapel, you would see an Advent wreath and a Jesse tree. Maybe you would hear some Advent music playing, such as "O Come O Come Emmanuel" or "Come Divine Messiah". Or maybe just the silent, recollected atmosphere. Then, of course, the collection of Advent books and meditations for Sisters to pick up through the season. Finally, if you have a detailed eye, you may notice the little cup with suggested prayers and penances for the Sisters to choose from each day.
These external things are lovely, but they are not an end of themselves. They help direct our interior dispositions towards Christ. Which is what it is all about. These daily traditions, along with the Mass as the shining crown of our Advent observances, form the gift that Holy Mother Church bequeaths to us to make our Advent more than just a few weeks on the calendar.
Thus, look to the Church for guidance on making a good Advent. To prepare well for the coming of Christ can change your life; but only if you have the proper dispositions.
"It is only in proportion to our dispositions that we shall share in the graces Christ's nativity should bring us, abundant as those graces are. This Church knows this perfectly, and that is why she neglects nothing for producing in our souls that interior attitude which Christ's coming within us demands... If we let ourselves be guided by her, our dispositions will be perfect, and the solemn feast of the birth of Jesus will produce within us all its fruits of grace, of light and of life." ~Bl. Abbot Columba Marmion