‘It would seem that Advent has two different and contradictory moods: penance and joyful expectation. As he goes to the altar during Advent the priest is clothed in purple vestments, and he does not say the Gloria. And yet in other respects Advent is a season of joy. The antiphons are invariably joyful and end with Alleluia. The Sunday Masses become more and more joyful in character. Last Sunday’s Mass was full of joyful texts and chants, and today, the third Sunday, is as joyful a Sunday as you will find anywhere in the Church’s. year. It is true, I think, to say that the joyful stratum is the earlier one and derives from the spirit of joy of the early Christians, whereas the penitential stratum is later and is explained by man’s consciousness of sin. Early Christianity stressed the holiness of grace and the accent is on joy. The Middle Ages was, however, obsessed by the holiness of the law, inculcating the fear of sin and the need for penance. And here we are at our theme for this year: Grace is attuned to the key of joy. But we can find yet another connection between this Sunday and grace, for if we ask what is the cause of this joy in today’s Mass, the answer is in the [Introit]: “Joy to you in the Lord at all times; once again I wish you joy… the Lord is near.” Yes, that is the reason: the Lord is near; and it is expressed even more emphatically in the Gospel [in the Extraordinary Form]: “There is one standing in your midst.” Christ is near; He is standing in our midst, and that is the reason for this Sunday’s joy. That is the reason why today the Church adorns herself with rose-coloured vestments. Christ is near; He is standing in our midst, and we cannot be rejoice.’
from Seasons of Grace, 1963, by Pius Parsch, 1884–1954
O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee: grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday), Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon