Fourth Sunday of Advent:
Saving Fire

The 4th Sunday of Advent originally did not have a Roman Station church because of the linkage between Ember Saturday and Sunday.  Eventually, to bring the Sunday into harmony with other great Sundays it gained a Station at the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles.

The 4th Sunday of Advent arrives on the heels of Ember Saturday with its preceding vigil readings and meditations in the night. Ember Saturday was in the ancient Church of Rome the day for priestly ordinations at St. Peter’s in the Vatican, the ceremonies of which lasted into Sunday morning.  They took things seriously back then.  In a sense, this Sunday is an extension of the Ember Day.

The Sunday Mass texts can be seen as a summation of our Advent preparation with the three great figures whom the Church chose to accompany us as we approach the arriving Lord. In the first chant of the Mass, the Introit, we hear the Prophet Isaiah cry out, “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness (Hebrew sedeq – righteousness, justice); let the earth open, that salvation [Hebrew yêsha – “deliverance, salvation”; Latin Vulgate salvator – “a savior” ] may sprout forth”.  The Vulgate personifies both the justice of God, justice being “the just one”, and the saving action of God, “savior”, which is what we sing in the Introit and the characteristic Advent Antiphon from Isaiah 45: Rorate caeli desuper et nubes pluant iustum.

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The Third Sunday of Advent

by Dom Gueranger, 1910

If our holy mother the Church spends the time of Advent in this solemn preparation for the threefold coming of Jesus Christ; if, after the example of the prudent virgins, she keeps her lamp lit ready for the coming of the Bridegroom; we, being her members and her children, ought to enter into her spirit, and apply to ourselves this warning of our Saviour: ‘Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands, and ye yourselves be like unto men who wait for their Lord (St. Luke xii. 35, 36. )!’ The Church and we have, in reality, the same hopes. Each one of us is, on the part of God, an object of mercy and care, as is the Church herself. If she is the temple of God, it is because she is built of living stones; if she is the bride, it is because she consists of all the souls which are invited to eternal union with God. If it is written that the Saviour hath purchased the Church with His own Blood (Acts xx. 28. ), may not each one of us say of himself those words of St. Paul, ‘Christ hath loved me, and hath delivered Himself up for me (Gal. ii. 20.)’? Our destiny being the same, then, as that of the Church, we should endeavour during Advent, to enter into the spirit of preparation, which is, as we have seen, that of the Church herself.

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception
of Our Blessed Mother

O God, who didst wondrously preserve the Mother of Thine only-begotten Son from original sin in her Conception: grant, we beseech Thee: that strengthened by her intercession we may be ready with clean hearts to take part in her festival. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

(Collect of the Vigil Mass)

O Most Holy Virgin who wast pleasing to God and didst become His Mother. Immaculate in your body, in your soul, in your faith and in your love, we beseech thee to look graciously upon the wretched who implore thy powerful protection. The wicked serpent, against whom the primal curse was hurled, continues nonetheless to wage war and to lay snares for the unhappy children of Eve. Ah, do thou, our blessed Mother, our Queen and Advocate, who from the first instant of thy conception didst crush the head of our enemy, receive the prayers that we unite single-heartedly to thine and conjure thee to offer at the throne of God, that we may never fall into the snares that are laid for us, in such wise that we may all come to the haven of salvation; and in the midst of so many dangers may holy Church and the fellowship of Christians everywhere sing once more the hymn of deliverance, victory and peace. Amen.

–Novena prayer

Source: Saint Louis Catholic (

The First Warning of Advent

The Preaching of St. John the Baptist
by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – 1494)

Stir up Thy might, O Lord, we beseech Thee, and come: that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and be saved by Thy deliverance: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen

The First Warning of Advent: Christ is nigh!
Let us give up Sin, and practice Virtue

Rom. xiii. 12: The night is passed, and the day is at hand:
“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.”

Startled at the solemn warning,
Let the earth-bound soul arise;
Christ her Sun, all sloth dispelling,
Shines upon the morning skies.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!”

So when next He comes with glory,
Wrapping all the earth in fear,
May He then, as our Defender,
On the clouds of heaven appear.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!”

Lo, the Lamb so long expected,
Comes with pardon down from heaven;
Let us haste with tears of sorrow,
One and all to be forgiven.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!”

Honour, glory, virtue, merit,
To the Father and the Son,
With the Everlasting Spirit,
While Eternal ages run.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
“Cast away the dreams of darkness,
O ye children of the day!”