Ad te levavi
So this Advent we’ll be looking at the Introit texts of the Mass for the four Sundays of Advent and the Solemnities of Christmas and the Immaculate Conception, and to give our reflections a distinctive Dominican flavour, we have taken the texts from our own Dominican liturgical books. The student brothers have recorded each of the chants so you’ll be able to hear them and then read a short reflection from a student brother on the text itself.
The text of the First Sunday of Advent is taken from Psalm 24(5), ‘To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul. In thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed. Neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on thee shall be confounded.’ This short text encapsulates the key theme of the Advent season, for Advent is a time of joyful expectation, a time of penance and self denial for sure, but also a time when we can joyfully put our trust in the Lord. But of course at this time of the year it can be quite difficult to find that joyful expectation; the frost or rain comes again and again, the earth is stripped of its beauty and brightness, and the sky is often a steely grey. So warnings that we should wake up, rejoice and be joyful can often fall on deaf ears, particularly as the business of preparations for Christmas takes up more and more of our time.
What’s the answer? Well, part of the answer will be, unsurprisingly, to enter more deeply into the mystery of the season. The Church offers us the liturgy as a privileged means of understanding more about our salvation, and so spending time reading the texts of the Mass or the readings that we hear would certainly be one way of entering into the spirit of the season more deeply. Again, another way might be to read the Scriptures more, and enter into the history of our salvation through reading and meditating on the words of the prophets as they waited in expectation for the coming Messiah. These prophets teach us, in a strange way, how to be joyful and how to put our trust in the Lord, for they lived in turbulent and difficult times, wrote in outrage at the injustices of their own time, and still looked out in joyful hope to the birth of a saviour which they saw in prophetic vision.