Universalis
Sunday 21 December 2014    (other days)
4th Sunday of Advent

Office of Readings

If you have already recited the Invitatory Psalm today, you should use the alternative opening.


Lord, open our lips.
  And we shall praise your name.
Invitatory PsalmPsalm 99 (100)
The Lord is at hand: come, let us adore him.
(repeat antiphon*)
Rejoice in the Lord, all the earth,
  and serve him with joy.
Exult as you enter his presence.
(repeat antiphon*)
Know that the Lord is God.
He made us and we are his
 – his people, the sheep of his flock.
(repeat antiphon*)
Cry out his praises as you enter his gates,
  fill his courtyards with songs.
Proclaim him and bless his name;
  for the Lord is our delight.
His mercy lasts for ever,
  his faithfulness through all the ages.
(repeat antiphon*)
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen.
The Lord is at hand: come, let us adore him.*

* If you are reciting this on your own, you can choose to say the antiphon once only at the start of the psalm and not repeat it.


Hymn
The Advent of our God
  With eager prayers we greet
And singing haste up on the road
  His glorious gift to meet.
The everlasting Son
  Scorns not a Virgin’s womb;
That we from bondage may be won
  He bears a bondsman’s doom.
Daughter of Zion, rise
  To meet thy lowly King;
Let not thy stubborn heart despise
  The peace he deigns to bring.
In clouds of awful light,
  As Judge he comes again,
His scattered people to unite,
  With them in heaven to reign.
Let evil flee away
  Ere that dread hour shall dawn.
Let this old Adam day by day
  God’s image still put on.
Praise to the Incarnate Son,
  Who comes to set us free,
With God the Father, ever One,
  To all eternity.

Psalm 23 (24)
The Lord comes to his temple
Behold, the heavenly king will come with power and great glory to save the nations. Alleluia.
The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
  the world and all who live in it.
He himself founded it upon the seas
  and set it firm over the waters.
Who will climb the mountain of the Lord?
  Who will stand in his holy place?
The one who is innocent of wrongdoing and pure of heart,
  who has not given himself to vanities or sworn falsely.
He will receive the blessing of the Lord
  and be justified by God his saviour.
This is the way of those who seek him,
  seek the face of the God of Jacob.
Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
  and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of might and power.
  The Lord, strong in battle.
Gates, raise your heads. Stand up, eternal doors,
  and let the king of glory enter.
Who is the king of glory?
The Lord of hosts
 – he is the king of glory.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen.
Behold, the heavenly king will come with power and great glory to save the nations. Alleluia.

Psalm 65 (66)
Hymn for a sacrifice of thanksgiving
Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your king is coming to you. Sion, do not be afraid: your salvation is at hand.
Cry out to God, all the earth,
  sing psalms to the glory of his name,
  give him all glory and praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous your works!
  Faced with the greatness of your power
  your enemies dwindle away.
Let all the earth worship you and sing your praises,
  sing psalms to your name.”
Come and see the works of God,
  be awed by what he has done for the children of men.
He turned the sea into dry land,
  and they crossed the waters on foot:
  therefore will we rejoice in him.
In his might he will rule for all time,
  his eyes keep watch on the nations:
  no rebellion will ever succeed.
Bless our God, you nations,
  and let the sound of your praises be heard.
Praise him who brought us to life,
  and saved us from stumbling.
For you have tested us, O Lord,
  you have tried us by fire, as silver is tried.
You led us into the trap,
  heaped tribulations upon us.
You set other men to rule over us –
  but we passed through fire and water,
  and you led us out to our rest.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen.
Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your king is coming to you. Sion, do not be afraid: your salvation is at hand.

Psalm 65 (66)
When the great King comes, the hearts of men will be made pure and we shall be made worthy to meet him. Behold, he is coming: he will not delay.
I shall enter your house with burnt-offerings.
  I shall fulfil my vows to you,
the vows that I made with my lips,
  the vows that I uttered in my troubles.
I shall offer you rich burnt-offerings,
  the smoke of the flesh of rams;
  I shall offer you cattle and goats.
Draw near and listen, you who fear the Lord,
  and I will tell all that he has done for me.
I cried out aloud to him,
  and his praise was on my tongue.
If I looked upon sin in the depths of my heart,
  the Lord would not hear me –
but the Lord has listened,
  he has heard the cry of my appeal.
Blessed be God, who has not spurned my prayer,
  who has not kept his mercy from me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
  world without end.
Amen.
When the great King comes, the hearts of men will be made pure and we shall be made worthy to meet him. Behold, he is coming: he will not delay.

The word of God is a living and active thing.
It is sharper than a double-edged sword.

First Reading
Isaiah 48:12-21,49:9-13 ©
Listen to me, Jacob,
Israel whom I have called:
I am the first,
I am also the last.
My hand laid the foundations of earth
and my right hand spread out the heavens.
I summon them
and they all come forward together.
Assemble, all of you, and listen;
which of them has foretold this?
‘My beloved will perform my pleasure
with Babylon and the offspring of the Chaldaeans.’
I, yes I myself, have spoken and summoned him,
brought him and prospered his plans.
Come near and listen to this:
from the beginning I have never spoken to you obscurely,
and all the time these things have been happening, I have been present.
–And now the Lord, with his spirit,
sends me.
Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you,
I lead you in the way that you must go.
If only you had been alert to my commandments,
your happiness would have been like a river,
your integrity like the waves of the sea.
Your children would have been numbered like the sand,
your descendants as many as its grains.
Never would your name have been cut off or blotted out before me.
Go away from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldaeans!
Declare this with cries of joy and proclaim it,
send it out to the ends of the earth.
Say, ‘The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob.’
Those he led through the deserts never went thirsty;
he made water spring for them from the rock,
he split the rock and water flowed.
On every roadway they will graze,
and each bare height shall be their pasture.
They will never hunger or thirst,
scorching wind and sun shall never plague them;
for he who pities them will lead them
and guide them to springs of water.
I will make a highway of all the mountains,
and the high roads shall be banked up.
Some are on their way from afar,
others from the north and the west,
others from the land of Sinim.
Shout for joy, you heavens; exult, you earth!
You mountains, break into happy cries!
For the Lord consoles his people
and takes pity on those who are afflicted.
Responsory
Shout for joy, you heavens; exult, you earth! You mountains, break into happy cries, for our Lord is coming, and he will take pity on those who are afflicted.
In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails; and he will take pity on those who are afflicted.

Second Reading
St Ambrose's commentary on St Luke's Gospel
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The angel Gabriel had announced the news of something that was as yet hidden and so, to buttress the Virgin Mary’s faith by means of a real example, he told her also that an old and sterile woman had conceived, showing that everything that God willed was possible to God.
  When Mary heard this she did not disbelieve the prophecy, she was not uncertain of the message, she did not doubt the example: but happy because of the promise that had been given, eager to fulfil her duty as a cousin, hurried by her joy, she went up into the hill country.
  Where could she hurry to except to the hills, filled with God as she was? The grace of the Holy Spirit does not admit of delays. And Mary’s arrival and the presence of her Son quickly show their effects: As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting her child leapt in her womb and she was filled with the Holy Spirit.
  See the careful distinction in the choice of words. Elizabeth was the first to hear the voice but her son John was the first to feel the effects of grace. She heard as one hears in the natural course of things; he leapt because of the mystery that was there. She sensed the coming of Mary, he the coming of the Lord — the woman knew the woman, the child knew the child. The women speak of grace while inside them grace works on their babies. And by a double miracle the women prophesy under the inspiration of their unborn children.
  The infant leapt and the mother was filled with the Spirit. The mother was not filled before her son: her son was filled with the Holy Spirit and in turn filled his mother. John leapt and so did Mary’s spirit. John leapt and filled Elizabeth with the Spirit; but we know that Mary was not filled but her spirit rejoiced. For the Incomprehensible was working incomprehensibly within his mother. Elizabeth had been filled with the Spirit after she conceived, but Mary before, at the moment the angel had come. “Blessed are you,” said Elizabeth, “who believed”.
  You too, my people, are blessed, you who have heard and who believe. Every soul that believes — that soul both conceives and gives birth to the Word of God and recognises his works.
  Let the soul of Mary be in each one of you, to proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Let the spirit of Mary be in each one of you, to rejoice in God. According to the flesh only one woman can be the mother of Christ but in the world of faith Christ is the fruit of all of us. For every soul can receive the Word of God if only it is pure and preserves itself in chastity and modesty.
  The soul that has been able to reach this state proclaims the greatness of the Lord just as Mary did and rejoices in God its saviour just like her.
  The Lord’s greatness is proclaimed, as you have read elsewhere, where it says Join me in magnifying the Lord. This does not mean that anything can be added to the Lord’s greatness by human words, but that he is magnified in us. Christ is the image of God and so any good or religious act that a soul performs magnifies that image of God in that soul, the God in whose likeness the soul itself was made. And thus the soul itself has some share in his greatness and is ennobled.
Responsory
’Blessed are you who have believed, because what has been promised to you by the Lord will be fulfilled.’ And Mary said, My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.
Come and hear: I will tell what God has done for my soul. My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.

CanticleTe Deum
God, we praise you; Lord, we proclaim you!
You, the Father, the eternal –
all the earth venerates you.
All the angels, all the heavens, every power –
The cherubim, the seraphim –
unceasingly, they cry:
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts:
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory!”
The glorious choir of Apostles –
The noble ranks of prophets –
The shining army of martyrs –
all praise you.
Throughout the world your holy Church proclaims you.
– Father of immeasurable majesty,
– True Son, only-begotten, worthy of worship,
– Holy Spirit, our Advocate.
You, Christ:
– You are the king of glory.
– You are the Father’s eternal Son.
– You, to free mankind, did not disdain a Virgin’s womb.
– You defeated the sharp spear of Death, and opened the kingdom of heaven to those who believe in you.
– You sit at God’s right hand, in the glory of the Father.
– You will come, so we believe, as our Judge.
And so we ask of you: give help to your servants, whom you set free at the price of your precious blood.
Number them among your chosen ones in eternal glory.
The final part of the hymn may be omitted:
Bring your people to safety, Lord, and bless those who are your inheritance.
Rule them and lift them high for ever.
Day by day we bless you, Lord: we praise you for ever and for ever.
Of your goodness, Lord, keep us without sin for today.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your pity, Lord, be upon us, as much as we trust in you.
In you, Lord, I trust: let me never be put to shame.

Let us pray.
Lord, open our hearts to your grace.
Through the angel’s message to Mary
  we have learned to believe in the incarnation of Christ your Son:
lead us by his passion and cross
  to the glory of his resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Let us praise the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.

The psalms and canticles here are our own translation. The Grail translation of the psalms, which is used liturgically in most of the English-speaking world, cannot be displayed on the Web for copyright reasons. The Universalis downloads do contain the Grail translation of the psalms.

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