Preface I of Advent

For more information on the Preface in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)

The first Preface of Advent is used for the entire liturgical season except the last week. Each day that we participate in Mass we can contemplate the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and foster our joyous expectation of the birth of our Savior.

The two comings of Christ

The Roman Missal appropriately describes this Preface as a contemplation of the two comings of Christ. This preface helps start the liturgical year, which begins every First Sunday of Advent, and commemorates Christ’s first coming in the Incarnation and Nativity. The liturgical year ends with the last Sunday in Ordinary time that commemorates the second coming of Christ: the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

“For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh, and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation…”

When someone is drowning, you must get in the water to rescue them or throw them some sort of a lifeline. When they’re really in a panic and floundering, you know the raft, the rope, or the life preserver is probably not enough: it’s time for the life guard or search and rescue. Our Lord, after our sins, made a conscious decision to come and rescue us, if we let him. Even as Adam and Eve were about to be cast out of Eden the Lord promised someone would crush the head of the evil serpent (Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”): that someone was Christ. God had our rescue in mind from the beginning.

Our Lord dove feet first into the murky waters of human misery left by sin to rescue us. He extended a hand to a panicked and floundering humanity to give us a fighting chance to regain our composure and start swimming in the right direction: the shore.

Advent is a time of penance, a time to remember all those centuries, and all those times in our lives, where we were drowning and floundering due to our sins and crying out for a Savior to rescue us. It is also a time to remember that he did come to rescue us.

“…that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope.”

Thanks to Our Lord’s love and generosity the way to salvation has been reopened, but we are still making our way to shore and exposed to the turbulent waters of a world at times inundated by sin. He has promised to swim alongside us, to buoy us up when we flounder, and to lead the way when it’s hard to get our bearings. We continue along the way he has laid out for us because we trust in him and his promises.

Advent, unlike Lent, is a penitential time characterized by hope. In this season we dare to hope that Christ has come to open the way to salvation and to help us walk it. Let’s welcome him as he deserves.

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