Saturday, November 26, 2016


Advent - in some ways simultaneously the most serious and most trivialized of all liturgical seasons - starts tonight. 

(Because Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, this Advent season will be the longest it can ever be in the Roman Rite - a full four weeks from Sunday, November 27 to Saturday, December 24. This is great for those who really like Advent. But, if you really like Advent, then even better than the Roman Advent is the Ambrosian Advent, which begins always on the Sunday after the feast of Saint Martin of Tours - November 11 - and thus has six Sundays instead of the Roman Rite's four. So in Milan and those other places where the ancient Ambrosian Rite is still followed, Advent already began two weeks ago!)

During his first Advent as Pope, Pope Francis asked Catholics to imagine themselves as Mary. He said, "the Church is like Mary: She is awaiting a birth,"

During Advent, the anthem Alma Redemptoris Mater is said or sung daily at the end of the Church’s Night Prayer (Compline). A popular chant in Norman England, Alma Redemptoris Mater made it into “The Prioress’s Tale” in Geoffrey Chaucer’s great medieval English poem The Canterbury Tales

It makes an excellent Advent prayer:

Loving mother of the Redeemer,
gate of heaven, star of the sea,
assist your people who have fallen yet strive to rise again.
To the wonderment of nature you bore your Creator,
Yet remained a virgin after as before.
You who received Gabriel's joyful greeting,
have pity on us poor sinners.

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