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Advent: November 30th

First Sunday of Advent


November 30, 2008 (Readings on USCCB website)


All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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Today the Church celebrates the First Sunday of Advent. This is the beginning of a new liturgical year. The Advent liturgy opens with that great yearning cry of the prophets of Israel to the Messiah and Redeemer whose advent they awaited. "Come!" God is not deaf to His people's cry. Fulfilling the promise of salvation made to our first parents at their fall He sent His Son into the world. And the application to all generations of mankind of the redemption that the Son of God made Man obtained for us by His passion continues until the end of time: it will conclude with the end of the world when the Messiah comes to complete His work and lead us into His kingdom. The history of the Church occupies the period between these two great events.

In the Mass of this Sunday the whole work of redemption is set before us, from its preparation in Israel's expectancy and its effect on our present lives down to its final fulfillment. The Church, in preparing us to celebrate at Christmas the birth of Him who came to snatch our souls from sin and transform them into the likeness of His own, invokes upon us and on all men the complete accomplishment of the mission of salvation that He came to perform upon this earth.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the traditional opening prayer (or Collect) prayed: "Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come." With this request to God to "stir up" His might, this day was traditionally called Stir-Up Sunday. Many families create a traditional plum pudding or fruit cake or some other recipe that all the family and guests can "stir-up." This activity of stirring-up the ingredients symbolizes our hearts that must be stirred in preparation for Christ's birth.

Jesse Tree ~ Creation

Roman Station Churches of Advent and Christmas
Roman Stational churches or station churches are the churches that are appointed for special morning and evening services during Lent, Easter and other important days during the Liturgical Year. This ancient Roman tradition started in order to strengthen the sense of community within the Church in Rome, as this system meant that the Holy Father would visit each part of the city and celebrate Mass with the congregation.

"So vividly was the station saint before the minds of the assembled people that he seemed present in their very midst, spoke and worshiped with them. Therefore the missal still reads, "Statio ad sanctum Paulum," i.e., the service is not merely in the church of St. Paul, but rather in his very presence. In the stational liturgy, then, St. Paul was considered as actually present and acting in his capacity as head and pattern for the worshipers. Yes, even more, the assembled congregation entered into a mystical union with the saint by sharing in his glory and by seeing in him beforehand the Lord's advent in the Mass" (Pius Parsch, The Church's Year of Grace, Vol. 2, p. 71).

The Lenten stations are the most prominent since they encompass every day during the Lenten season. However, there are other times of the year with traditional station churches. The Advent and Christmas seasons include the four Advent Sundays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day with three different churches for the three Masses of the Day, and the three feasts after Christmas and the Octave Day of Christmas (January 1) and Epiphany, and the Advent Ember Days.

For more information, see:

First Sunday of Advent
Station with Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major):
We enter the house of God. Mary, God's Mother, is preparing the crib in which to lay her Son; she comes to meet us. What a beautiful model of preparation! The stational church is St. Mary Major at the Crib and its stational Saint meets us! Already on this first day of preparation for Christmas, we see the Mother of God at the crib! Mary now leads us to the altar, where she speaks to us and leads us in prayer. We ask our blessed Mother Mary, the fruitful earth fecundated by the goodness of the Lord, the patroness on the first day of the New Year as well as on this first day of Advent, to obtain for us the grace to prepare with becoming honor for the approaching solemnity of our redemption. Mary is the highest expression, the perfect model of true Advent spirit. On this account do we begin our Advent observance in the great Marian Church Ad praesepe, at the crib. To the Christians of Rome this church was Bethlehem. In 342 A.D. it was built to commemorate the Council of Ephesus, and dedicated to the Mother of God. Our best model for the Advent-Christmas season is, surely, Mary our Mother (adapted from Pius Parsch, OSB, The Church's Year of Grace and Martin Hellriegel, Vine and Branches).

For more on Santa Maria Maggiore, see:

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.