This final week of Advent is an exciting time as we approach the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Liturgically, there are two unique aspects to this week. First, there are the beautiful “O Antiphons” that are sung during Vespers (Evening Prayer). Second, there are the lesser known, or often overlooked collects (opening prayer) said at Mass. Each day from December 17th–24th we are given a new prayer chock-full of beautiful imagery and rich theological truth meant to draw us deeper into the mystery we celebrate. In these remaining days, consider paying close attention to the prayers, ruminating on them and letting them sink deep into your soul.
Today we hear in the Collect:
O God, who through the child-bearing of the holy Virgin
Graciously revealed the radiance of your glory to the world,
Grant, we pray,
That we may venerate with integrity of faith
The mystery of so wondrous an Incarnation
And always celebrate it with due reverence.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity
Of the Holy Spirit; one God, for ever and ever.
There are three phrases that are striking to our ear and imaginations.
revealed the radiance of your glory to the world
How curious that such a human thing like giving birth to a child should be the vehicle by which God chooses to “reveal the radiance of [his] glory.” Only God would choose something so simple and yet so profound.
integrity of faith
This word “integrity” has several shades of meaning. It can refer to the condition of a thing as undiminished. “Integrity” can also refer to being blameless or innocence, in reference to the chastity of virgins, for example. How can we poor sinners have this kind of faith? This seems impossible. You are right—it is; we can’t do it. It is a gift of God. No amount of striving will get us integrity of faith. We are like helpless little babies who need to be spoon-fed everything. This is why God has come as a child. Ask for the grace to simply be with the God who is a little child.
“Reverence” can sometimes seem an opaque term that suggests only hollow ritual. But reverence is a robust virtue that informs actions that are necessary for every Christian. A true love of God impels every Christian to show reverence to our Creator who has liberated us from our sins. When we come in contact with the Mystery of the Incarnation, this reverence puts us literally on our knees. Our humility in the presence of the Creator can only but increase within us our sense of awe and wonder at God’s power and the love he has for us.
May our worship of this tiny infant king be a source of renewal in growing to be children of God.
Photo by Batang Latagaw