Saturday, 28 November 2020

Advent: a double expectation

 The two-fold expectation that is characteristic of the Advent season draws our attention to a feature of our Liturgical life as a whole. As we celebrate the Sacraments and life of prayer bestowed on the Church at Christ's first coming, that very celebration is oriented towards Christ's second coming. The Liturgy faces us from the events of one coming towards the event of a second coming; it exists in a kind of "in between". Our Liturgical prayer has a direction: it faces towards the East, that is, towards the dawn, the sign of Jesus coming.

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, 
graciously grant peace in our days,
 that, by the help of your mercy, 
we may be always free from sin 
and safe from all distress, 
as we await the blessed hope 
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

It is very easy at Mass to listen to the words of the Preface without really "hearing" them. Participating on line might make us more attentive, and we might then notice how the first Preface for the Advent season captures the two-fold expectation typical of the season:

For he assumed at his first coming 
the lowliness of human flesh, 
and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, 
and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, 
that, when he comes again in glory and majesty 
and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day  
may inherit the great promise 
in which now we dare to hope.

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