Our Blessed Lady in the Cathedral Church of Mary our Queen, Baltimore, MD
The second reading for the Office of Readings on the Saturday before Advent may seem a little out of place. From a sermon of Saint Augustine of Hippo, it contains these words: “Let us sing alleluia here on earth, while we still live in anxiety, so that we may sing it one day in heaven in full security”.
The season of Advent is often seen in parallel with that of Lent. Certainly, both are marked by a sombre and somewhat penitential tone. They are both times of preparation; both periods of self-denial; both marked by a certain restraint in the liturgical life of the Church, in her outward vesture and sacred texts. Both Advent and Lent draw heavily on the prophecy of Isaiah, seeing in that Old Testament book a foretaste of what is to come at the coming feast, be it Christmas or Easter. In this sense they are times of shadows and images, which are only dispelled and fully realized by the light of the Christ whose Radiant Dawn we see in the ‘dayspring from on high’ (Lk. 1:78) of his Nativity and the ‘morning star that never sets’ of his Paschal triumph (cf. Exsultet).