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Advent Meditations

Advent Meditations

December 16-25

– Father Johann Roten, S.M.

December 16 | December 17 | December 18 | December 19 | December 20 | December 21 | December 22 | December 23 | December 24 | December 25

December 16: Annunciation

During Advent, the Roman Catholic liturgy reminds us repeatedly of the message of Gabriel to our Lady: "The angel Gabriel said to Mary in greeting: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women" (Antiphon at midday prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours), and prays each day: "Loving Mother of the Redeemer, who received Gabriel's joyful greeting; have pity on us poor sinners" (Final Antiphon from the Liturgy of the Hours, antiphon for Advent )

The consent of our Lady, which in God's good pleasure preceded the incarnation, is of the greatest importance in the story of salvation, for the incarnation of the Word initiates the restoration of human nature.

The Roman liturgy recalls this sacrament of our salvation, not only on the solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25 but also, as the Nativity of the Lord approaches, on December 20 and particularly on the Fourth Sunday of Advent in the calendar Year B. The celebration of this mystery fits in admirably with the character and nature of the Advent season. We invite you to pray with the Church the following prayer from the seasonal Mass, The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Annunciation of the Lord:

O God,
you chose that at the message of an angel
your Word should take flesh
in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Grant that we who believe that she is the Mother of God
may receive the help of her prayers.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


December 17: Visitation

It is appropriate to celebrate the Mass of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary during Advent when a memorial of the Mother of the Lord is to be celebrated. Our Lady in visiting her kinswoman Elizabeth is an image of the mystery of salvation, in which God "has come to his people and set them free" (Entrance Antiphon, Luke 1:68). Mary is also the model for the Church, which God nourishes with his gifts and on which he pours out his Holy Spirit as it brings the message of joy to the whole world so that all peoples may "acknowledge Christ as their Savior."

In this Mass Mary is honored as:

- the new daughter of Zion, who in her womb ("in your midst") bears the Lord, the King of Israel (Reading I, Zephhaniah 3:14-18a);

- the new ark of the covenant, bearing the Word of God, brings "salvation and joy to the home of Elizabeth;"

- a new creation, formed by the Holy Spirit, who is bathed in the dew of heavenly grace, and bears the fruit of salvation, Jesus Christ;

- the mother of the Lord, whom Elizabeth recognizes in words inspired by the Holy Spirit and who gives herself completely to the mystery of redemption.

- a holy woman, who, hearing the words of an angel, hastens to play her part in the work of salvation, proclaims God's greatness in her song of praise and thanksgiving; a paragon of loving service, she is rightly hailed as blessed "because she believed in God's promise of salvation" (Preface, see Luke 1:45), whose humility is looked upon with favor by God and will be acclaimed by all generations.

We invite you to pray with the Church the following prayer from the seasonal Mass, The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Lord our God,
Savior of the human family,
you brought salvation and joy
to the home of Elizabeth
through the visit of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
the ark of the New Covenant.
We ask that, in obedience
to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
we too may bring Christ to others
and proclaim your greatness
by the praise of our lips
and the holiness of our lives.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


O Antiphon I: Jesus Is Wisdom

Among the many Christian customs in anticipation of Christmas, there is one prayer that has come down to us from the Middle Ages called O Antiphons. The earliest manuscript with the seven O Antiphons is found in the eleventh century. Beginning on the eve of December 18, the monks would chant a different O Antiphon each evening for seven days. Each antiphon addressed Jesus by a title from the First Testament in anticipation of redemption. The prayers are called O Antiphons because they begin with the exclamation "O" when addressing the Lord. They are sung before the Canticle of Mary.

O Wisdom

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God,
you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care.
Come and show your people the way to salvation.
Based on Wisdom 9:17-18.


Jesus Christ is the joy and happiness of all who look forward to his coming. Let us call upon him and say:
Come, Lord, and do not delay!

In joy, we wait for your coming;
come, Lord Jesus.

Before time began, you shared life with the Father;
come now and save us.

You created the world and all who live in it;
come to redeem the work of your hands.

You did not hesitate to become man, subject to death;
come to free us from the power of death.

You came to give us life to the full;
come and give us your unending life.

You desire all people to live in love in your kingdom;
come and bring together those who long to see you face to face.


O Antiphon II: Jesus Is Lord of Lords

O Lord of Lords

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain,
come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.
Based on Psalms 59:6, 103:7.


To Christ the Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary,
let us pray with joyful hearts:
Come, Lord Jesus!

Lord Jesus, in the mystery of your incarnation, you revealed your glory to the world;
give us new life by your coming.

You have taken our weaknesses upon yourself;
grant us your mercy.

You redeemed the world from sin by your first coming in humility;
free us from all guilt when you come again in glory.

You live and rule over all;
in your goodness bring us to our eternal inheritance.

You sit at the right hand of the Father;
gladden the souls of the dead with your light.


O Antiphon III: Jesus Is Root of Jesse

O Root of Jesse

O Flower of Jesse's stem,
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.
Based on Isaiah 11:10.


To Christ our Lord, judge of the living and the dead, let us cry out with faith:
Come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, may the world know your justice which the heavens proclaim;
may your glory fill the earth.

For us you took upon yourself the weakness of man;
protect us with the strength of your own divine life.

In your humility as a man, you took away our sin;
now in your glory grant us true happiness.

When you come in glory to judge us;
gather the dead into your kingdom.


O Antiphon IV: Jesus Is Key of David

O Key of David

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.
Based on Isaiah 22:22.


To Christ our Lord and Redeemer, who will appear openly on the last day, let us joyfully pray:
Come, Lord Jesus!

Our Redeemer and Lord, by your birth as a man you freed us from the heavy yoke of the law;
complete in us the works of your loving kindness.

From us you took whatever served your divinity;
give us whatever we need to serve you.

Grant the desire we ask of you today;
inflame our hearts with the fire of your love.

On earth we live with you by faith;
in glory may we rejoice with you.

Steep the souls of the faithful departed,
in the dew of your loving kindness.


O Antiphon V: Jesus Is Rising Dawn

O Radiant Dawn

O Radiant Dawn,
spendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
Based on Malachi 3:20.


We humbly pray to Jesus Christ, who recues us from the darkness of sin, and in faith we cry out:
Come, Lord Jesus!

Lord, gather together all the people of the earth,
and establish your everlasting covenant with them.

Lamb of God, you came of old to take away the sin of the world;
purge us from all the dregs of our guilt.

You came to recover what was lost;
come once again in your mercy lest you punish what you have recovered.

Our faith seeks you out;
let us find everlasting Joy with you when you come.

You will judge the living and the dead;
graciously gather the dead into the ranks of the blessed.


O Antiphon VI: Jesus Is King of Nations

O King of Nations

O King of all the nations,
the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of the human family,
come and save the creatures you fashioned from the dust.
Based on Isaiah 28:16.


To Christ our Lord, who humbled himself for our sake, we joyfully say:
Come, Lord Jesus!

Lord Jesus, by your coming you rescued the world from sin;
cleanse our souls and bodies from guilt.

By the mystery of your incarnation we are made your brothers and sisters;
do not let us become estranged from you.

Do not judge harshly,
those you redeemed with such great cost.

No age, O Christ, is without your goodness and holy riches;
enable us to merit the enduring crown of your glory.

Lord, to you we commend the souls of your departed servants;
having died to the world, may they be alive in you for ever.


O Antiphon VII: Jesus is Emmanuel

O Emmanauel

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations,
Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.
Based on Isaiah 7:14.


To our Redeemer who came to bring good news to the poor, let us earnestly pray:
Let all people see your glory!

Show yourself to those who have never known you;
let them see your saving work.

Let your name be preached to the ends of the earth,
that all may find the way to you.

You came first to save the world;
now come again and save those who believe in you.

You brought freedom to us by saving us;
continue to save us and make us free.

You came once as a man; you will return in judgment;
bring eternal reward to those who have died.


December 25: May the Christ Child Bless You! Merry Christmas!

The reflections on the women of the Old Testament were extracted from Mary of Galilee: Volume II; A Woman of Faith Blessed Among Women, Rev. Bertrand Buby, S.M., Alba House, 1995. The quotes from the three Marian Masses are taken from the sacramentary of the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary.The O Antiphons were taken from the Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing, 1975.


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