Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

Second Sunday of Advent: Missale Romanum 1970

For our weekly meditation of the Collects of the Roman Missals, we turn to the Collect for today’s Mass of the Second Sunday in Advent. The following is the official ICEL translation of this Collect in the MR’70:

Almighty and merciful God, may no earthly undertaking hinder those who set out in haste to meet your Son, but may our learning of heavenly wisdom gain us admittance to His company. Who lives and reigns, etc. Amen.

This Collect expresses well the essential movement of the Advent season: learning about Jesus through divine revelation and faith (especially the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah), and then coming to adore Him alongside “His company,” i.e., the Holy Family, the Shepherds, the Magi, St. John the Baptist, and Sts. Simeon and Anna (all the saints of the feasts of the Christmas cycle).

The first part of the Collect reflects the Church’s posture towards Christ at this time of year. The clause “set[ting] out in haste to meet Your Son” can refer more generally to our anticipation of Christmas. After all, the Collect appears to allude to the Shepherds, linking our celebration of Advent to their rapid movement towards the manger. St. Luke tells us that after they received the divine revelation, the shepherds “went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (cf. Luke 2:16, RSV, emphasis mine). They learned “heavenly wisdom” from the Angel, and, by acting with “haste,” gained “admittance to [Jesus’] company,” in the words of our Collect.  

We might go deeper than this, however, by targeting our own daily discipleship, because the Collect appears to draw a parallel between “haste[ning] to meet Christ” and the “learning of heavenly wisdom.” This cannot refer only to a corporate experience of Advent. It is also necessarily a personal and interior experience of daily prayer. Our own daily spiritual life is precisely the way we “learn heavenly wisdom,” and thereby “hasten to meet” Christ in the sacramental life. 

Do we prioritize our prayer life, or do we have one? Do we read the Scriptures and other spiritual reading? This is a challenge at any point of the calendar year, because the devil wants to keep us away from prayer and the knowledge of the faith. However, it ironically becomes more difficult during Advent. The first part of the Collect describes this aptly: it seems we can hardly find a moment in which to be recollected, because we often are “hindered” with many “earthly undertakings,” even if they are legitimate.

The key here, however, is not to let these things crowd out that which is most important, as Jesus reminds his friend Martha:

Now as they went on their way, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to Him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.’” (cf. Luke 10:38-42, RSV).  

This episode dovetails nicely with our Collect. We are often like Martha, especially at the holidays. She allows her legitimate duties to gain a distorted place of dominance. More than a perfect party, Jesus wanted her to put a pause on her activity, so that she might sit at his feet, really learn his doctrine, and enjoy his company. So too, Our Lord would have us prioritize the “learning of heavenly wisdom,” in the words of our Collect, since our holiday activity can too easily distract us from what matters most: spending time in the “company” of Jesus, and entering more deeply into His mysteries. May we hasten to meet Christ in our daily prayer and reading of Scripture, so as to adore Him more fitly this Christmas.  

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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