Our 4th Week of Advent this year is incredibly brief! Just today, because tomorrow, December 24, is Christmas Eve and has it\’s own special liturgy.
If you pray the Angelus (an ancient prayer recalling the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, prayed 3 times a day), you will recognize the Collect or organizing, focusing, prayer for today\’s Mass…
Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known
by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
“Seeing is believing”, they say, but believing makes us want to see. “Crede ut intellegas! Believe that you may understand!” is a common theme for St. Augustine of Hippo (+430). Today many people pit faith against reason, authority against intellect, as if they were mutually exclusive.
Faith and authority are indispensable for a fuller rational, intellectual apprehension of anything. In all the deeper questions of human existence, we need the illumination that comes from grace and; revelation. We must receive and believe. Faith is the foundation of our hope, which leads to love and communion with God, as Augustine would say. When we hear about something or learn a new thing we often rush to know more, to have personal experience, to see. This is a paradigm for our life of faith. There is an interlocking cycle of hearing a proclamation (such as the Gospel at Mass, a homily, or a teaching of the Church) or observing the living testimony of a holy person’s life (such as Teresa of Calcutta). Because of an experience of reception, and subsequent pondering, we come to love the content of that which we received.
The content of the prayers which Holy Church gives us is the Man God Jesus Christ.
By hearing and pondering & using well these prayers, we come all the better to know Christ and to love Him. In loving Him we desire all the more to know Him. Acceptance of the authority of the content of our orations at Mass opens previously unknown treasuries which would otherwise be locked. Some of them are ancient. Indeed, today\’s prayer is from at least the 8th century. They are like treasure boxes which, with the right keys, we can open to find irreplaceable riches.
Our Blessed Mother, so closely associated with today’s Collect, first received the message of the Angel. She accepted and believed the message, and made it her own. She pondered it in her heart. She pronounced her Magnificat. She brought our Savior into the light of the world.
H/T: Fr. Z