BROTHER ANDRÉ MARIEWhat’s in That Prayer? The Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent – Catholicism.org
Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday):
Aurem tuam, quǽsumus, Dómine, précibus nostris accómmoda: et mentis nostræ ténebras, grátia tuæ visitatiónis illústra.
Here is my translation:
Incline Thine ear to our prayers we ask, O Lord: and enlighten the darkness(es) of our mind by the grace of Thy visitation.
Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:
O Lord, we beseech thee, mercifully incline thine ears unto our prayers, and lighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of thy heavenly visitation.
The oration is directed to the Second Person, who is soon to come in the Flesh to be our Emmanuel, “God with us.” The first advent of Jesus is referred to here, as is the last, when He will visit us again at the end of time. There is an import “middle” coming — or, rather, a succession of such comings — that involve Jesus visiting us with His grace on our way to the heavenly homeland. This coming, too, we beg for in today’s prayer.
The word accómmoda is notable here. I translated it “incline,” which is found in the dictionaries. It is the word that we get our “accommodate” from, and it also means, among other things, “to fit, adapt, adjust, conform to, comply with.” It is almost as if we are asking Our Lord, by an anthropomorphism, to bring His divine ear down to us and accommodate it to our prayers. But what we are really asking is for ourselves to be accommodated to the divine will so that we might pray aright. He does not need to change; we do. Saint James (4:3) gives us a piece of his holy mind to this effect: “You ask, and receive not; because you ask amiss: that you may consume it on your concupiscences.”
The word ténebras (“darknesses”) is unmistakably in the plural, which makes little sense in English. I noted it parenthetically in my translation because apparently the author of the prayer wanted to indicate that our minds indeed have multiple causes of darkness, or perhaps multiple layers of darkness.
I pointed out last week that Advent is a very “exciting” time because several of the collects of this season begin with the word excita (stir up, bestir, excite, or arouse). Today’s collect does not have this word; however, the Alleluia verse for this day is Excita, Dómine, potentiam tuam, et veni, ut salvos fácias nos: “Arouse, O Lord, Thy power, and come, that thou mayst save us.” The preceding Gradual employs the same word. So, things are still exciting today!
Things are not only exciting, but joyful. Today is Gaudete Sunday, named for the first word of the Introit, which is also the first word of this Sunday’s short Epistle (Phil. 4:4-7): Gaudéte in Dómino semper: íterum dico, gaudéte: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.” Today is one of the two Sundays of the year, along with the mid-Lent Laetare Sunday, when the celebrant and sacred ministers wear rose vestments (please don’t accuse your priest of wearing pink! It’s rose, even if it looks like pink to the untrained eye.) Both Gaudete and Laetare are commands in the Latin language for the auditors to rejoice. So, today, we rejoice.
This year’s Gaudete Sunday coincides with the Feast of Our Lady’s gracious visitation to North America: Our Lady of Guadalupe, thus giving us a double reason to rejoice. With Josquin Des Prez‘ lovely polyphony (Gaude Virgo Mater Christi), let us beseech the Blessed Virgin to rejoice with us today: