We begin again a new Church year with the Season of Advent. Advent is a penitential season, like Lent, thus we wear violet vestments and tone down our music a bit to focus our liturgy. Yet it is also a joyful season, as we anticipate the birth of Jesus. Any pregnant mother can tell you that the last few weeks before giving birth are both joyous and penitential. This is a very human combination. We struggle to prepare ourselves as we look forward with great hope. Our readings this Sunday portray this combination well. We are eager for the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel (c.f. Jerimiah 33:14) and we remain “vigilant at all times and pray that [we] have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36) May we prepare well and look forward in hope amidst our struggles to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, God-With-Us, in the flesh.
On a side note, I ask your cooperation and your best effort as we sing the Greek and Latin Mass Parts for Advent and Lent. I know there are objections to using ancient languages at Mass, but I ask you, in charity, to set these objections aside. These Mass parts are part of our rich Catholic tradition, and they unlock for us thousands of years of our musical heritage. There are 13 other standard Latin Mass settings that we could learn once we learn the words, many of them quite lovely.
You can, if you are willing, learn the 35 words of these Mass parts. They may be foreign to you now, but once you make the effort to learn them, they will be your words. Repetition strengthens memory. None of us are too old to learn, if we are willing. I ask you to soften your hearts and give it your best effort. You have memorized the English translations of the Kyrie (Lord, Have Mercy), Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), so deep down you already know what you are saying, and the melody is almost identical in English and Latin chant. Please make the effort to learn these Latin and Greek Mass parts this Advent; make it an act of love. Consider it an early Christmas gift for your pastor.