Saturday, December 01, 2007


ADVENT BEGINS tonight at first vespers, and is the start of a new liturgical year. Here are extracts from the various liturgies for the first Sunday in Advent:
The Lord, the King who is to come, O come, let us worship.

Thou, grieving that the ancient curse
Should doom to death an universe,
Hast found the medicin, full of grace,
To save and heal a ruined race.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, alleluia.

Let us cleanse our hearts for the coming of our great King, that we may be ready to welcome him; he is coming and will not delay.

Lo there cometh a mighty Prophet, and he shall build up a new Jerusalem, alleluia.

You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a scanty remnant, We had become as Sodom, we should be like Gomorrah. Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah! What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD. I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure. When you come in to visit me, who asks these things of you? Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me. New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies, octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear. Your new moons and festivals I detest; they weigh me down, I tire of the load. When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; Though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow. Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; But if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken! How has she turned adulteress, the faithful city, so upright! Justice used to lodge within her, but now, murderers. Your silver is turned to dross, your wine is mixed with water. Your princes are rebels and comrades of thieves; Each one of them loves a bribe and looks for gifts. The fatherless they defend not, and the widow's plea does not reach them. Now, therefore, says the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: Ah! I will take vengeance on my foes and fully repay my enemies! I will turn my hand against you, and refine your dross in the furnace, removing all your alloy. I will restore your judges as at first, and your counselors as in the beginning; After that you shall be called city of justice, faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed by judgment, and her repentant ones by justice. Rebels and sinners alike shall be crushed, those who desert the LORD shall be consumed. You shall be ashamed of the terebinths which you prized, and blush for the groves which you chose. You shall become like a tree with falling leaves, like a garden that has no water. The strong man shall turn to tow, and his work shall become a spark; Both shall burn together, and there shall be none to quench the flames.

The Angel Gabriel said to Mary in greeting: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women.

Wherefore let every man make himself ready against the Advent of the Lord, lest it take him unaware, whilst he is given over to gluttony or worldly affairs. For it is a matter of every-day experience, beloved, how fullness of drink dulleth the mind, and how excess of eating weakeneth the will. To eat as much as one may desire is even bad for the bodily health. Wherefore desire should be withstood by temperance ; or at least the gluttonous pleasure of the moment should be checked by the thought of the discomfort which followeth hard upon over-eating.

A thrilling voice by Jordan rings,
Rebuking guilt and darksome things:
Vain dreams of sin and visions fly;
Christ in his might shines forth on high.

Fear not, Mary, thou hast found favour with the Lord : behold thou shalt conceive, and bear a Son, alleluia.

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 expectations of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven 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. And He spoke to them a similitude: See the fig tree and all the trees: when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen, I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.
In November, the month of the holy souls, we reflect on our mortality, visit cemeteries, praise the Saints in Heaven, and pray for the faithful departed. We even mock the damned souls in Hell on the eve of November. As we contemplate our own end, we then reflect on the destruction of the Jewish Temple and Jerusalem, and the end of Old Testament Israel which occurred during the Apostolic period. This leads to the future judgment of the world, and the expected coming of Christ as King, although we realize that He is always with us still. Our own end is intimately linked to the end of the world, as the Requiem Mass prays in the Dies Irae:
Day of wrath, day that will dissolve the world into burning coals, as David bore witness with the Sibyll. How great a tremor is to be, when the judge is to come briskly shattering every grave.
As the old liturgical year ends, and a new begins with Advent, the wait for Christ to come again in glory blends back to the expected coming of the Messiah by ancient Israel, leading to the celebration of Christmas.

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