Rejoice in the Lord always! This Sunday (Gaudete Sunday) the tone of the Liturgy begins to turn with great expectation toward the coming feast of the Birth of Our Lord Jesus. This joyful hope comes up to the surface and even manifests itself in a different Liturgical color, “rose” (every priest wearies of it being called pink!).
I have been reflecting a lot on this week’s Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s document on the Liturgy, called Sacrosanctum Concilium. One of the greatest breakthroughs in the last couple of years to help bring about the reforms of the Liturgy envisioned by the Council fathers, has been the composition of the Propers of the Mass in the vernacular language and in a style that connects us with the original form, chant. This is something that had been missing since the reforms of the Liturgy began more than 40 years ago, and kept us from accomplishing one of the primary goals of the Church in the renewal of Roman Rite, namely, access to the meaning of the actual texts of the Mass. When the Mass began to be celebrated mostly in the vernacular language, the untranslated Propers were abandoned for vernacular hymns and songs. In so doing, these Scriptural texts went from being somewhat obscure, to being completely lost. This was the opposite of what the Second Vatican Council intended. In the past six years we have re-introduced the chanting three of the Propers at the Sunday Masses here at the Cathedral. Take a look at what the texts of the Propers do to bring alive the Liturgy of the 3rd Sunday of Advent. If these were the only texts you had to reflect on for this Sunday, you would be able to understand the joy of Israel (and of the Church, the new Israel) at the expectation of the arrival of the Savior.
The Introit: Gaudete in Domino semper, from which this Sunday gets its name, paraphrases St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious over anything; but in all manner of prayer, let your requests be made known unto God.”
The Gradual (we have continued using the Responsorial Psalm which is the second option):
‘O Lord, who are enthroned upon the Cherubim, stir up your might and come forth. O Shepherd of Israel hear us, you who lead Joseph like a flock.”
The Alleluia verse:
“Stir up your might, O Lord, and come to save us.”
“O Lord, you have blessed your land, you have put an end to Jacob’s captivity; you have forgiven the guilt of your people.”
Say; “Take courage, you who are fainthearted, and do not fear; behold, our God will come and he will save us.”
Gaudete in Domino semper!