On this Third Sunday of Advent, the focus of our preparation shifts drastically. For two weeks now we have meditated on the coming of Christ in penance and violet. For this one Sunday of the penitential season, we reflect on the coming joy instead of what we need to fix in ourselves. We mix the joy of Christmas with the penance of Advent, so we also mix the liturgical white of Christmas with the violet of Advent. As an outward expression of this shift, the liturgical color for this one Sunday is rose. Thus, this Sunday is aptly named Gaudete Sunday. This comes from the beginning words of the Introit: “Gaudete in Domino semper; iterum dico, gaudete.” These words, taken from the book of Philippains, remind us to rejoice in our Lord’s coming while maintaining virtue of humility. We must continue to give thanksgiving in our prayers for the Lord is almost here.
This week also begins the beautiful tradition of the “O Antiphons.” This refers to the antiphons of the Magnificat in the Divine Office from December 17 to December 23. These antiphons are “O Sapientia,” “O Adonai,” “O Radix Jesse,” “O Clavis David,” “O Oriens,” “O Rex Gentium,” and “O Emmanuel.” Each of these are a title for Christ. Pulled from the prophecy of Isaiah, these antiphons aid our preparation for Christmas in a special way for the final days of Advent.
In this week of joyous preparation, let us recall in a special way exactly what we are preparing for: Christ’s coming at His birth, Christ’s coming in our everyday lives, and Christ’s coming at the end of time. We are preparing for each and every one of these comings of Christ throughout this Advent season. I urge all of you, especially if you are struggling in your prayer life, to pray with the O Antiphons this week. Either within the entirety of Vespers, or just the Magnificat and antiphon.
“O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodidisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviter disponensque omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.”
“O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.” (Magnificat Antiphon, December 17)
Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione et obsecratione cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.