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4th Sunday of Advent Paper.edited 2-2

St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary
Proper Prayers for the Fourth Sunday of
Sebastián Barbosa García
THY 610E: Liturgical Theology
December 7, 2019
Advent has at its kernel the concept of expectation and of coming 1, for it is the waiting
in vigilance of the feast in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Lord at the end
of times. Nevertheless, let not the expectation be passive in mind but instead embody the
arduous work of preparation to receive the coming of God. Advent is also a season of openings,
for God pierced the world with his human presence to make a suitable space in man's heart to
dwell. It is of no coincidence that this happens in the time of year where the rhythm of seasons
is at its tightest, coldest, and most abrasive state. God pierces into our reality to find that the
heart of man is also tight, cold, and abrasive towards Him.
What are we to do with this cold time of the year, with this cold heart of ours while God
is preparing to come? The Church wisely incorporates a posture of penance and prayer, so that
the spirit may find warmth in the middle of this dark world, so to elevate the soul’s powers
towards God and prepare a worthy place for the Lord to be born in the heart.2 The delicate
balance of awaiting, penance and joy paired with the four Sundays of Advent sets the soul aright
with affections of urgency “to poses the heavenly kingdom,”3so that trusting not our merits but
God’s mercy4 we may be filled with gladness and rejoicing in our solemn worship of this season.5
All the expectation and prayer finds its summit in the presidential prayers of the fourth Sunday
of advent; whereas we approach the heavenly altar to witness the power of the Holy Spirit as it
Abbot Gueranger, The Liturgical Year: Advent (Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1948), 21.
Ibid. 29.
From the Collects of the 1st Sunday of Advent. All presidential prayers are taken for the texts of Roman
Missal, Third Edition (International Committee on the English in the Liturgy, 2010).
Super Oblata, 2nd Sunday of Advent.
Collects of the 3rd Sunday of Advent.
filled the womb of the Virgin Mary so we may obtain the grace to see the mystery of the
Incarnation as we await the day of his second coming.
Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ
your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the
glory of his Resurrection.
The Collects for the Fourth Sunday of Advent present us with the closing prayer of the
angelus. Without a doubt, it is a literary gem; this prayer comes from a very ancient practice of
the Pope at Rome in the feast of the Annunciation on March 25.6 Furthermore, it presents in very
concise words the greatest mysteries of God.
The prayer starts with a beautiful petition of the pouring down of “grace into our hearts.”
The verb in Latin used for this petition is infundo,7 it is mostly used to refer to the act of
"communicating or imparting."8 This word also bears the connotation of metallurgy. The image
of a molten metal taking the shape of the casket may come into mind. The petition has, at its
core, the desire to let grace be engraved into the heart.
This petition of grace brings to the forefront of the mystery of God's work of salvation.
We do not plead our cause before God relying on our merits but trusting in his grace: the
“Commentary on the Proper Prayers of Advent from the Roman Missal,” United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops, accessed November 26, 2019,
“4th Sunday of Adven Collect,” Fr. Z’s blog, accessed November 26, 2019,
Incarnation, the Passion, and the Cross. The structure of this prayer transports us to the moment
of the Annunciation. Here the Angel Gabriel unveils the will of God to the Virgin Mary, and the
host of angles communicate the birth Christ to the shepherds in the field.9 The verb used here is
cognovimus, which in Latin means “to know,”10 with both senses and mental powers, such
knowledge of the Incarnation is efficacious only if it sees the Passion and Cross as the path (per
passioner eius et crucem) to be brought (perduco, “to lead or bring through)11 the glory of the
The theological import of this prayer is vast and deep. It will suffice to focus on the final
cause of God’s work of redemption, which is the return of all things to God in the Resurrection.
The road back to God, paved by the many sins of our ancestors, is filled with thorns and thistles.
This road will be impossible to tread if it was not for the grace of faith. At its core, this prayer is
asking for the grace to believe in the Messiah, so to walk in perfect understanding of the will of
God. (Rom12:2)12 Faith in order to understand that the Passion is the work of Salvation that must
be completed in us at the Resurrection. (Phil 1:6) Just like the shepherds were lead to see the
Word made flesh in the manger so too we are led by God to know of the Incarnation of His Son
USCCB, “Poorper Prayers.”
Fr. Z, ”Collects.”
All texts are taken from The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (Washington,
DC: National Council of Churches of Christ, 1993)
so that we may believe. 13 St. Gabriel the Archangel made known this great mystery of salvation
to us at the Incarnation!
Supra Oblata
May the Holy Spirit, O Lord, sanctify these gifts laid upon your altar, just as he filled with his power
the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through Christ our Lord.
This prayer dates back in use to the Fourth Century, France. Eventually, the prayer was
incorporated in the Roman liturgy, and it is found in various Sacramentaries, including the
“Bergomenese.”14 This prayer has as its center the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Latin uses the
word viscera, which refers to the entrails or inner organs of a person or animal, and its classical
use it also means "womb."15 Thus, the viscera of the Virgin Mary is a holy place prepared by God
himself to take on flesh and blood for the salvation of mankind.
The structure of this prayer has a parallel comparison of the work the Holy Spirit does to
the gifts on the altar and the work He did in the womb of the Virgin. In the former, the Holy Spirit
sanctifies the offerings; in the latter, the Holy Spirit "makes full the womb of Virgin." 16 In both
the English translation and the Latin text, the message is clear that the sanctification of the gifts
on the altar is possible because the Holy Spirit first filled the womb of the Virgin Mary with his
presence. Thus, the beautiful relation between the altar of sacrifice and the Virgin Mary. Here is
Fr. Z, ”Collects.”
”4th Sunday of Advent: SUPER OBLATA,” Fr. Z’s blog, accessed November 26, 2019,
the most sublime example of how the best gifts man can offer are taken up and sanctified by
God. The dynamics of Katabasis and Anabasis is at the core of this prayer.
A theological insight may be drawn from the participation of the priest in the Sacrifice of
Mass as he invokes the Holy Spirit down upon the gifts. The priest does not offer sacrifice to God
by himself. Although the sacrifice he offers and the sacrifice that the people offer are different in
mode, both are offering to the Father the same precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.17 Here
the priest is, most notably, accompanied by our Lady. She and her virginal womb are present in
the sign of the altar where Christ’s sacrifice is made present.
Preface II of Advent
…For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him, the Virgin Mother longed for him with love beyond all
telling, John the Baptist sang of his coming and proclaimed his presence when he came.
It is by his gift that already we rejoice at the mystery of his Nativity, so that he may find us watchful in
prayer and exultant in his praise
And so, with the Angels and Archangels...
The Second Preface of the Nativity presents us with a beautiful rendering of
eschatological motifs to prepare us to enter the sacred ground of the Canon. It gives us a glance
into the past; it strengthens our prayer for the present and thrust us forth for the to his second
For the past, we are reminded that Christ came to fulfill ancient oracles told by the
prophets of old. These same oracles were held in the tender silence of a Virgin, which God chose
to bear His son, a son that she loved with a supernatural love. The Messiah had a precursor, John
the Baptist, who proclaimed the coming of the Messiah to His people. These figures are
presented to us as examples of faith, hope, and perseverance for our work of prayer while here
on earth.
Now we come to the present. The prayer mentions rejoicing on the part of the faithful
because Christ has already come, and now our work of prayer must sustain us in careful
observance of his second coming. Note the quality of prayer is of praise and rejoicing. Advent is
a time of penance and mortification, but it is also a time of high expectation and joy because we
have already received the gift of salvation from God. The tribulations experienced throughout
the year come to an end with a new beginning, a new birth, a fresh start. Prayer must be severe
yet light to penetrate the paradox of Christian living: in our weakness, Christ is strong. (2 Cor
Prayer after Communion
Having received this pledge of eternal redemption, we pray, almighty God, that, as the feast day of our
salvation draws ever nearer, so we may press forward all the more eagerly to the worthy celebration of
the mystery of your Son's Nativity. Who lives and reigns forever and ever.
The prayer after communion is a recent composition of ancient collections from the "Galatian
Sacramentary."18 The first part comes from the feast of St. Laurence found in a compilation of Mass
booklets in the VI century. Moreover, the second part is the rendering of a prayer used on the Friday
of the third week of lent in the VII century.
”4th Sudnay of Advent: POST COMMUNION,” Fr. Z’s blog, accessed November 26, 2019,
This prayer's underlying current is of expectancy, of urgency for the coming of the Lord. We
are almost at the end of Mass, and the week that leads up to Christmas has already begun. We are, in
one sense, in a race toward God, a race that culminates in celebration and feast. The faithful are
empowered by the token of grace received in their hearts, a pledge of salvation that heals the
wretchedness, and prepares the person for the banquet. The Latin word used here for the pledge is
pignore (ablative of pignus), which means pact, to covenant, pledge, gage, security, mortgage.19 It is
interesting to note that by being a people of the covenant, we receive the promise of eternity. The bond
between God and his people is so strong that God is willing to bend time and space for the benefit of
his children. As the Nativity comes closer, we are made stronger to make progress in our holiness
(worthy of celebrating the feast) by God's covenant (pledge).
Final Remarks
In conclusion, the presidential prayers for the 4th Sunday of Advent confront the faithful
with the totality of God's plan of salvation. We explore the most intimate experiences of God in
the Incarnation as we enter the heart of Mary in her joyful expectation of the fulfillment of the
ancient oracles. We see the Holy Spirit display His power in the Annunciation and at the sacrifice
of the Mass. The work of redemption in the Passion and the Cross is mentioned to let us know
the path we must tread for our salvation. Furthermore, finally, we are sent forth to “press
forward all the more eagerly” to seek the face of the newborn, God with us, in the manger.
Gueranger, Abbot. The Liturgical Year: Advent. Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press,
Pristas, Lauren. The Collects of the Roman Missals: A Comparative Study of the Sundays in Proper
Seasons Before and after the Second Vatican Council. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc,
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Commentary on the Proper Prayers of Advent
from the Roman Missal.” Accessed November 26, 2019.
Fr. Z’s blog. “4th Sunday of Advent: COLLECTS.” Accessed November 26, 2019.
Fr. Z’s blog. “4th Sunday of Advent: SUPER OBLATA.” Accessed November 26, 2019.
Fr. Z’s blog. “4th Sunday of Advent: POST COMMUNION.” Accessed November 26, 2019.