"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
— Jesus, Luke 21:34-36 (New International Version)
Absolute and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
—The Collect of the Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent and an appropriate closing prayer for today’s Office.
Have courage, all of you, lost and fearful; take heart and say: Our God will come to save us, alleluia.
—The antiphon for the second psalm from First Vespers for the Second Sunday of Advent.
Stir up your power, we pray, O Lord, and come,
that with you to protect us,
we may find rescue
from the pressing dangers of our sins,
and with you to set us free,
we may be found worthy of salvation.
—The Collect of the Mass for Friday of the First Week of Advent and an appropriate concluding prayer for today’s Office.
For I have turned aside from much that I knew, and have given up much that went before. What will not bring me, more certainly than before, to where I am is of no use to me. I have stepped out of the clearing into the woods. I have thrown away my lantern, and I can see the dark.
Stir up your power, O Lord,
and come to our help with mighty strength,
that what our sins impede
the grace of your mercy may hasten.
—The Collect for the Mass for Thursday of the First Week of Advent and an appropriate closing prayer for today’s Office.
One of the older nuns seemed to understand what I felt, for she once said to me during recreation: “I should think, child, you have not much to tell your superiors.” “Why do you think that, dear Mother?” I asked. “Because your soul is very simple; but when you are perfect you will become more simple still. The nearer one approaches God, the simpler one becomes.
O God, who through the preaching of Saint Francis Xavier
won many peoples to yourself,
grant that the hearts of the faithful
may burn with the same zeal for the faith
and that Holy Church may everywhere rejoice
in the abundance of offspring.
—The Collect from the Mass for today’s memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, priest, and the concluding prayer for today’s Office.
Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person’s gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold form the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people’s hearts first - and then they will joyfully share their wealth.
Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
Come now, let us set things right,
says the Lord:
Though your sins be as scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
—From Chapter 1 of the book of the prophet Isaiah and from the Office of Readings for the First Sunday of Advent.