Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gaudete Sunday

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, and, like it's counterpart, Laetare Sunday in Lent, it is a small, joyful break to the penitential season. Rose coloured vestments are permitted in lieu of violet, the the liturgy takes on a decidedly hopeful and joyous tone.

I must admit that I love the season of Advent. It is a penitential season, and our family has always treated it as such, but it has such a different feel to it than Lent does. Lent is looking towards a death. Oh, I know the Resurrection comes too, but the death is still first, and there is a bitterness about the Lenten fast that bespeaks of sack cloth and ashes. Advent, however, is looking towards a birth, and therefore, cannot help but have an atmosphere of suppressed excitement, and anticipation. The penance itself feels incidental - rather like foregoing breakfast on Thanksgiving, when you know you are going to have a fantastic dinner. It simply makes a beautiful feast day that much more joyful when it actually arrives. Below is a group of carollers from Ireland, enthusiastically singing a lovely Advent song, "Behold a Virgin Bearing Him":

Behold a virgin bearing him
Who comes to save us from our sin;
The prophets cry: prepare his way!
Make straight his paths to Christmas Day.
Behold our Hope and Life and Light,
The promise of the holy night;
We lift our prayer and bend our knee
To his great love and majesty.

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