THE word Advent signifies coming, and by it is understood the visible coming of the Son of God into this world, at two different times.
When was the first coming of Christ?
It was when the Son of God, conceived of the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, was born, according to the flesh, in the fulness of time, and sanctified the world by His coming, for which the patriarchs and prophets had so longed. (Gen. XLIX. to.; Isai. LXIV. i.; Luke, X. 24.)
Since Christ had not yet come, how could the Just of the Old Law be saved?
Immediately after their sin, God revealed to our first parents that His only -begotten Son would become man and redeem the world. (Gen. III. 15J In the hope of this Redeemer and through His merits, all in the old covenant who participated in His merits by innocence or by penance, and who died in the grace of God, were saved, although they were excluded from heaven until the Ascension of Christ.
When will the second coming of Christ take place?
At the end of the world when Christ will come, with great power and majesty, to judge both the living and the dead.
What is Advent, and why has the Church instituted it?
Advent is that solemn time, immediately preceding" Christmas, instituted by the Church in order that we should, in the first place, meditate on the Incarnation of Christ, the love, patience and humility which He has shown us, and prove our gratitude to Him, because He came from the bosom of His heavenly Father into this valley of tears, to redeem us; secondly, that we may prepare ourselves by sincere repentance, fasting, prayer, alms-deeds, and other works pleasing to God, for the coming of Christ and His birth in our hearts, and thus participate in the graces which He has obtained for us; finally, that He may be merciful to us, when He shall come again as judge of the world. "Watch ye, for ye know not at what hour your Lord will come". (Matt. XXIV. 42.) "Wherefore be you also ready; because at what hour you know not, the Son ofman will come". (Matt. XXIV. 44.)
How was Advent formerly observed?
Very differently from now. It then commenced with the feast of St. Martin, and was observed by the faithful like the Forty Days' Fast, with strict penance and devotional exercises, as even now the most of the religious communities do to the present day. The Church has forbidden all turbulent amusements, weddings, dancing and concerts, during Advent. Pope Sylverius ordered that those who seldom receive Holy Communion should, at least, do so on every Sunday in Advent.
How should this solemn time be spent by Christians?
They should recall, during these four weeks, the four thousand years in which the Just under the Old Law expected and desired the promised Redeemer, think of those days of darkness in which nearly all nations were blinded by satan and drawn into the most horrible crimes, then consider their own sins and evil deeds and purify their souls from them by a worthy reception of the Sacraments, so that our Lord may come with His grace to dwell in their hearts and be merciful to them in life and in death. Further, to awaken in the faithful the feelings of repentance so necessary for the reception of the Saviour in their hearts, the Church orders that besides the observance of certain fast -days, the altar shall be draped in violet, that Mass shall be celebrated in violet vestments, that the organ shall be silent and no Gloria sung, Unjust to themselves, disobedient to the Church, and ungrateful, indeed, to God are those Christians who spend this solemn time of grace in sinful amusements without performing any good works, with no longing for Christ's Advent into their hearts.
What are Rorate High Masses and why are they celebrated?
They are the solemn high Masses celebrated in some countries in commemoration of the tidings brought to the Blessed Virgin by the Archangel Gabriel, announcing to her that she was to become the Mother of God; they derive their name from the words of the Introit in the Votive Mass, "Rorate coeli desuper." They are celebrated very early in the morning because the Blessed Virgin preceded our Lord, as the aurora precedes the rising sun.
PRAYER IN ADVENT
O God, who by Thy gracious Advent hast brought joy into this world, grant us, we beseech Thee, Thy grace to prepare ourselves by sincere penance for its celebration and for the Last Judgment. Amen.