Book 1, Advent
Dom Guéranger OSB
First Translation: 1867
(If this Sunday should fall on December 24, it is omitted, and in its place is said the Office of Christmas Eve, which is not provided here.)
WE have now entered into the week which immediately precedes the birth of the Messias. That long-desired coming might be even tomorrow; and at furthest, that is, when Advent is as long as it can be, the beautiful feast is only seven days from us. So that the Church now counts the hours; she watches day and night, and since December 17 her Offices have assumed an unusual solemnity. At Lauds, she varies the antiphons each day; and at Vespers, in order to express the impatience of her desires for her Jesus, she makes use of the most vehement exclamations to the Messias, in which she each day gives Him a magnificent title, borrowed from the language of the prophets.
Today,  she makes a last effort to stir up the devotion of her children. She leads them to the desert; she shows them John the Baptist, upon whose mission she instructed them on the third Sunday. The voice of the austere Precursor resounds through the wilderness, and penetrates even into the cities. It preaches penance, and the obligation men are under of preparing by self-purification for the coming of Christ. Let us retire from the world during these next few days; or if that may not be by reason of our external duties, let us retire into the quiet of our own hearts and confess our iniquities, as did those true Israelites, who came, full of compunction and of faith in the Messias, to the Baptist, there to make perfect their preparation for worthily receiving the Redeemer on the day of His appearing to the world.
See, then, with what redoubled earnestness the Church, before opening the book of her great prophet, repeats her invitatory:
The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.
From the Prophet Isaias. (Ch. xxxv.)
The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily. It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise; the glory of Libanus is given to it, the beauty of Carmel and Saron. They shall see the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of our God. Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak knees. Say to the faint-hearted: Take courage, and fear not. Behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God Himself will come and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. And that which was dry land, shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the dens where dragons dwelt before shall rise up the verdure of the reed and the bulrush. And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it; and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor shall any mischievous beast go up by it, nor be found there: but they shall walk there, that shall be delivered. And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.
Oh, the joy of Thy coming, dear Jesus! How great it must needs be, when the prophecy says it shall be like an everlasting crown upon our heads. And could it be otherwise? The very desert is to flourish as a lily, and living waters are to gush forth out of the parched land, because their God is coming. Come, O Jesus, come quickly, and give us of that water, which flows from Thy sacred Heart, and which the Samaritan woman, the type of us sinners, asked of Thee with such earnest entreaty. This water is Thy grace; let it rain upon our parched souls, and they too will flourish; let it quench our thirst, and we will run in the way of Thy precepts and examples. Thou, O Jesus, art our way, our path, to God; and Thou art Thyself God; Thou art, therefore, both our way and the term to which our way leads us. We had lost our way; we had gone astray as lost sheep: how great Thy love to come thus in search of us! To teach us the way to Heaven, Thou hast deigned to come down from Heaven, and then tread with us the road which leads to it. No! there shall be no more weak hands, nor feeble knees, nor faint hearts; for we know that it is in love that Thou art coming to us. There is but one thing which makes us sad: our preparation is not complete. We have some ties still to break; help us to do it, O Saviour of mankind! We desire to obey the voice of Thy Precursor, and make plain those rugged paths, which would prevent Thy coming into our hearts, a Divine Infant! Give us to be baptized in the Baptism of the waters of penance; Thou wilt soon follow, baptizing us in the Holy Ghost and love.