Rejoicing and Awaiting
by Rev. Dr. Beseau
The Third Week of Advent begins with Gaudete Sunday, taking its name from the first word of the Introit for the Mass that day, “Gaudete in Domino semper . . .” “Rejoice in the Lord always.” We hear those words as well in the Second Reading from Saint Paul to the Philippians. What impresses me about these words is that Saint Paul is writing them from jail. With chains on his wrists, he is able to write, “Rejoice, I say it again, rejoice.” How can Saint Paul write this? One of the gifts of our Catholic faith is that we believe in God’s Providence and therefore, wherever we are, even in prison, we can “rejoice always.” Even if we are in a prison, real or metaphorical, we can always rejoice in God’s providence.
This week we also begin singing what are commonly known as the “O Antiphons.” Going back to at least the sixth century, the Church calls us to sing these antiphon each evening at Vespers. O Sapientia (Wisdom), O Adonai (Lord), O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), ) Clavis David (Key of David), O Oriens (Dayspring), O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations), O Emmanuel (God With Us) might be understood as “stepping prayers” that allow us to prepare to properly celebrate the birth of Christ in the Christmas season.