Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fourth Sunday Of Advent.

Text from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal,
unless otherwise stated.

Illustrations, unless otherwise stated, from UNA VOCE OF ORANGE COUNTY
(from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal, 1952 Edition), who reproduce them 
with the kind permission of ST. BONAVENTURE PRESS

Fourth Sunday of Advent.
Station at The Church of The Twelve Apostles.

Indulgence of 15 years and 15 Quarantines.
Privileged Sunday of the Second-Class.


Violet Vestments.

John, preaching the Baptism of Penance.

Like the whole Liturgy of this Season, the purpose of The Mass for The Fourth Sunday of Advent is to prepare us for the twofold Coming of Christ: His Coming in Mercy at Christmas; and in Justice at the end of the world.

Allusion is made to the First Coming in the Introit; while the Collect, Gradual, and Alleluia, can be applied to either of the two.

In this Mass, we meet once again with the three great figures that are before the mind of The Church throughout Advent: Isaias; Saint John the Baptist; and Our Lady. The Prophet Isaias foretells, of Saint John the Baptist, that he will be: "A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of The Lord, make straight His paths . . . and all flesh shall see the Salvation of God."

English: Basilica of The Twelve Holy Apostles.
View from the Vittoriano, Rome, Italy.
Italiano: Santi XII Apostoli.
Latin: SS. XII Apostolorum.
Photo: 3 December 2008.
Source: Own work.
Author: Pippo-b.
(Wikimedia Commons)

The Church of The Twelve Holy Apostles (Italian: Santi Dodici Apostoli, Latin: SS. XII Apostolorum) is a 6th-Century Roman Catholic Parish and Titular Church and Minor Basilica in RomeItaly, dedicated originally to Saint James and Saint Philip and, later, to all Apostles.
Today, the Basilica is under the care of the Conventual Franciscans, whose headquarters,
in Rome , are in the adjacent building.
The Cardinal Priest of the Titulus XII Apostolorum is Angelo Scola.
Among the previous Cardinal Priests are Pope Clement XIV, whose tomb, by Canova, is in the Basilica, and Henry Benedict Stuart.

And "the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the Baptism of Penance for the remission of sins" (Gospel).

"John," Saint Gregory explains, "told those who hurried in crowds to be Baptised: "Ye brood of vipers, who hath told you to flee from the wrath to come ?" Now the wrath to come is the final chastisement, which the sinner will not be able to escape, unless he have recourse now to the lamentations of Penance.

The friend of the Bridegroom warns us to bring forth, not fruits merely of Penance, but worthy fruits. These words are a call to each man's conscience, bidding him to lay up, by means of Penance, a treasure of good works, the greater in proportions to the ravage of sin which caused it (Third Nocturn).

The Baroque Ceiling of The Basilica of Santi Apostoli, Rome, Italy.
Photo: 15 August 2005.
(Wikimedia Commons)

And Saint Leo says: "God Himself teaches us by the Prophet Isaias: I will lead the blind in a way that they know not, and I will turn the darkness before them into light and I will not forsake them."

The Apostle, Saint John, makes clear to us, the way in which this Mystery is fulfilled, when he says: "And we know that The Son of God is Come. And He hath given us understanding, that we may know The True God and may be in His True Son" (Second Nocturn).

The Liturgy continues: Because of the great love that God has manifested towards us, He has sent on Earth His only-begotten Son to be born of The Virgin Mary. Also, in the Communion sentence, the Church recalls to us the Prophecy of Isaias: "Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son: And His Name shall be called Emmanuel."

And, again, in the Offertory, she combines, in a single salutation, the words addressed to Our Lady by the Archangel and by Saint Elizabeth. Saint Gregory writes: "Gabriel, whose name means "Strength of God", is sent to Mary, since he comes to announce The Messias, Whose Will it is, to appear in humiliation and abasement, in order to subdue all the Powers of the Air.

"It was fitting that He should be heralded by Gabriel, the "Strength of God"; He, Who was to come as The Lord of Might, The All-Powerful and Unconquerable in battle, to crush the Powers of the Air in universal defeat" (Sermon 35).

In the Collect, just as we are reminded of the display of Our Lord's "Great Might", which will take place at the time of His Second Coming, when, as Supreme Judge, He will come in the splendour of His Divine Majesty to render to each according to his works, so we find an allusion to this same Great Power manifested in His First Coming. It was as one clothed in His weak and mortal human nature that Our Lord put the Devil to flight.

As we think of Our Lord as nigh at hand, in one or other of His "Comings", let us say, with The Church: "Come, Lord Jesus, and tarry not."

Every Parish Priest celebrates Mass for the people of his Parish.

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