By SISTER LOIS J. PAHA, O.P.
Special to The New Vision
These words of invitation to the Preface dialogue of the Eucharistic Prayer are unchanged in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal introduced on the First Sunday of Advent. As we listen and pray new words and familiar words we continue to be invited to the full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy.
Listening to common images provided by the new words intends to strengthen our understanding of the mysteries of our faith as this month and next we celebrate the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season and welcome various images of the mystery of the Incarnation.
In Preface I for Advent the priest sings or says, “…he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh…that when he comes again…we inherit the great promise in which we dare to hope.” In Preface II for Advent, we meet the important messengers of this mystery, the prophets, the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist “who sang of his coming and proclaimed his presence when he came.”
The Blessings at the End of Mass and Prayers Over the People are found in the pages at the end of the Order of the Mass. The second invocation in the Solemn Blessing offered for the Advent Sundays echoes the message of the Prefaces and also repeats the image of the Collect for the First Sunday.
“As you run the race of this present life, may he [the almighty and merciful God] make you firm in faith, joyful in hope and active in charity.”
The Collect includes the same anticipation and expectation that fills the Advent season. “Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet Christ…at his coming…”
As we move through the Advent weeks to Christmas, the images of light, newness of life, Christ the Sun of Justice, and the Word made flesh are expressed in both Preface I of the Nativity of the Lord, “..for in the mystery of the Word made flesh a new light of your glory has shown…”
The Blessing for the Nativity of the Lord calls upon “the God of infinite goodness” to “…illumine your hearts with the light of virtue” and “make you heralds of the Gospel…and fill you with the gift of his peace and favor.”
The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord offers four different Masses to celebrate the Incarnation of the Lord. At the Vigil Mass we pray “O God … as we wait in hope for your redemption…we joyfully welcome your Only Begotten Son…”
At the Mass during the Night, the traditional midnight Mass, we pray “…that we, who have known the mysteries of his light on earth, may also delight in his gladness in heaven…”
The Mass at Dawn puts action words to the prayer asking that “as we are bathed in the new radiance of your Incarnate Word, the light of faith… may also shine through in our deeds.”
Finally, we pray the Mass during the Day with words which we also hear in the letter of Paul to the Philippians. “O God, who wonderfully created the dignity of human nature…grant that we may share in the divinity of Christ, who humbles himself to share in our humanity.”
The season concludes with the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord calling Christ the light of all nations and in the Preface states: “For today you have revealed the mystery of our salvation in Christ…”
In this threefold season of hopeful expectation, unconditional love in the Birth of Christ and the call to proclaim the truth of the Incarnation to all nations, the liturgy is in fact the expression of our faith.
The Solemn Blessing for the Beginning of the Year helps to summarize this truth and offers some memorable phrases for prayer and reflection.