The following Text is from “The Liturgical Year”,
by Abbot Guéranger, O.S.B.
The Church of Rome does not keep this day as a Feast Day of any Saint; she simply recites The Office of The Feria, unless it happens that The First Sunday of Advent falls on this first day of the month, in which case The Office of that Sunday is Celebrated.
But, should this first day of December be a simple Feria of Advent, we shall do well to begin at once our considerations upon the preparations which were made for the merciful coming of The Saviour of the World.
Four thousand years of expectation preceded that coming, and they are expressed by the four weeks of Advent, which we must spend before we come to the glorious festivity of Our Lord’s Nativity.
Let us reflect upon the holy impatience of The Saints of The Old Testament, and how they handed down, from age to age, the grand hope, which was to be but hope to them, since they were not to see it realised. Let us follow, in thought, the long succession of the witnesses of the promise: Adam, and the first Patriarchs, who lived before The Deluge; then, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and The Twelve Patriarchs of The Hebrew People; then Moses, Samuel, David, and Solomon; then, The Prophets and The Machabees; and, at last, John the Baptist and his disciples.
Saint Fin Barre Cathedral,
These are the holy ancestors of whom The Book of Ecclesiasticus speaks, where it says: “Let us praise men of renown, and our Fathers in their generation”; and of whom The Apostle thus speaks to The Hebrews: “All these being approved by the testimony of Faith, received not the Promise; God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us”: Their Faith was tried and approved, and yet they received not the object of The Promises made to them. It is for us that God had reserved the stupendous gift, and, therefore, He did not permit them to attain the object of their desires.
Let us honour them for their Faith; let us honour them as our veritable Fathers, since it is in reward of their Faith, that Our Lord remembered and fulfilled His Merciful Promise; let us honour them, too, as the ancestors of The Messias in the flesh.
We may imagine each of them saying, as he lay on his dying bed, this Solemn Prayer to Him, Who, alone, could conquer death: “I will look for Thy Salvation, Oh, Lord !” It was the exclamation of Jacob, at his last hour, when he was pronouncing his prophetic blessings on his children: “And then,” says The Scripture, “he drew up his feet upon his bed, and died, and he was gathered unto his people.”
Thus, did all these holy men, on quitting this life, go to await, far from the abode of Eternal Light, Him, Who was to come in due time and re-open The Gate of Heaven. Let us contemplate them in this place of expectation, and give our grateful thanks to God, Who has brought us to His Admirable Light, without requiring us to pass through a Limbo of Darkness.
Illustration: WEST SUSSEX
It is our duty to Pray ardently for the coming of The Deliverer, Who will break down, by His Cross, The Gates of The Prison, and will fill it with The Brightness of His Glory. During this Holy Season, The Church is continually borrowing the fervent expressions of these Fathers of The Christian People, making them her own Prayer for The Messias to come.
Greek Orthodox Chant.
Available on YouTube at
(See the reference to Greek Orthodox Hymn, below).
“Agni Parthene”, rendered “O, Virgin Pure”, is a Greek Marian Hymn composed
by Saint Nectarios of Aegina in the Late-19th-Century, first published in Print in his “Theotokarion”.
In Orthodox Churches, it is considered “Para-Liturgical”, and, therefore, only to be used outside of Liturgical Services. Though it is often performed by some Choirs as a Recessional, after the conclusion of The Divine Liturgy during the Veneration of The Cross and receiving of Anti-Doron.
Performed by: Petros Gaitanos/ Πέτρος Γαϊτάνος.
Illustration: KATEY JANE PHOTOGRAPHY
Let us turn to those great Saints, and beg of them to Pray, that our work of preparation for Jesus' coming to our hearts may be Blessed by God.
We will make use, for this end, of the beautiful Hymn (“Avorum hodie, fideles”) wherein The Greek Church Celebrates the memory of all The Saints of The Old Testament, on the Sunday immediately preceding The Feast of Christmas.
Illustration: FRIENDS OF THE HOLY LAND