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Advent: December 24th

Fourth Sunday of Advent

MASS READINGS

December 24, 2023 (Readings on USCCB website)

PROPERS [Show]

COLLECT PRAYER

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


Solemnity of Christmas, Vigil Mass: O God, who gladden us by year as we wait in hope for our redemption, grant that, just as we joyfully welcome your Only Begotten Son as our Redeemer, we may also merit to face him confidently when he comes again as our Judge. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

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This year (2023) Advent is very short with Sunday being the only day in the fourth week. In the General Roman Calendar, today is the last day of Advent, Christmas Eve, and also (beginning with the vigil Mass) is the first day of Christmas time. The liturgical texts express wholehearted confidence in the imminent coming of the Redeemer. There is much joyous expectation. Most families have their own observances, customs that should be preserved from generation to generation. Today is the last day of our Christmas Novena.

     Station Church Information >>>

For those following the Jesse Tree, you can either continue through Christmas Eve following Catholic Culture's Jesse Tree, or use symbols based on the “O” Antiphons (see Jesse Tree Instructions and O Antiphons).

     Jesse Tree, Day 22 ~ St. John the Baptist
     Jesse Tree Overview


Commentary on the Mass Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle B:
The First Reading is taken from the Second Book of Samuel 7:1-5; 8-11, 16, and refers to when David was anointed king in Hebron by all the tribes of Israel and Judah and his first step was to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusites and make it the political capital of his kingdom.

The Second Reading is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans 16:25-27, where he introduces himself to the Christians in Rome and he gives an incomplete synthesis of his theology. His words remind us to give glory to God this Christmas and always, for the marvelous things he has done for us.

The Gospel is from Luke 1:26-38. At the moment our Lady said: "be it done to me according to thy word" the most stupendous event that ever happened, or ever could happen on earth, took place on this planet of ours. The Son of God took on human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. We are familiar with this story from childhood. We often say the Angelus in which this tremendous act of God's love is described. Although familiarity, in this case, does not breed contempt, it does help to blunt the real impact on our minds of such an extraordinary occurrence. If God had created a very special child, and made him into an outstanding saint, so that he could intercede with God for us, this would be a great act of love for us on God's part. Or, if he had sent an angel from heaven in human form, to teach us all about God and to help us to lead holy lives, this would deserve our deepest gratitude. But neither a saintly man nor a holy angel could do for us all that God wanted. No man or angel could make us adopted sons of God and heirs of heaven. It was necessary, in God's plan for us, that his divine Son should become man, should share our humanity so that we could share his divinity.

Could infinite love have gone any further? Our creation, the fact that we exist as human beings on earth, is a great gift to us on the part of God. Of what value could eighty, a hundred, even seven hundred years of a continuously happy life on this earth be for us if we learned that we had to depart life forever one day? In a world tormented by sin and its evil effects our normal span of life would be less satisfying. However, when God created us, he so planned that our stay here would be but a stage, a stepping stone in fact, toward our everlasting home. We are well aware indeed of the lengths to which God's love has gone in order to make us his children and heirs to his kingdom. Are we, however, grateful to him for the love he has shown us? Are we honestly and sincerely trying to make ourselves worthy of the great future he has in store for us?

Today is a suitable occasion to look right into our hearts, to see how we stand with God. During the week we shall be keeping the feast of Christmas. The Baby in the manger will remind us of what God has done and is still doing for us. What are we doing in return? Have we shown our gratitude by living as true followers of Christ? If most of us must answer: "no," this is the time to change our course and return to the right road once more. God is asking this of us today. Shall our answer be: "behold here I am Lord, your humble and grateful servant, let it be done to me according to your word"?
—Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Station with Ss. XII Apostoli or Santi Dodici Apostoli (Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles):

At Rome, the Station is in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, better known in Rome as better known as Santi Apostoli. We receive today a twelve-fold blessing from the apostles with whom we celebrate this last Sunday of Advent. As living stones we are built on these twelve solid and sacred foundation stones who themselves rest on the divine cornerstone, Christ. Ye holy apostles of Christ, be with us and pray for us, that with well-prepared hearts we may "go forth to meet Him, and say: Great is His dominion, and His kingdom will have no end; He is God, the Mighty, the Ruler, the Prince of Peace."

For more on Santi Dodici Apostoli, see:

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


Christmas Eve at Church
The entire liturgy of Christmas Eve is consecrated to the anticipation of the certain and sure arrival of the Savior: "Today you shall know that the Lord shall come and tomorrow you shall see His glory" (Invitatory of Matins for the Vigil of the Nativity). Throughout Advent we have seen how the preparation for Jesus' coming became more and more precise. Isaiah, John the Baptist and the Virgin Mother appeared throughout the season announcing and foretelling the coming of the King. We learn today that Christ according to His human nature is born at Bethlehem of the House of David of the Virgin Mary, and that according to His divine nature He is conceived of the Spirit of holiness, the Son of God and the Second Person of the Trinity.

The certitude of His coming is made clear in two images. The first is that of the closed gate of paradise. Since our first parents were cast forth from the earthly paradise the gate has been closed and a cherubim stands guard with flaming sword. The Redeemer alone is able to open this door and enter in. On Christmas Eve we stand before the gate of paradise, and it is for this reason that Psalm 23 is the theme of the vigil:

Lift up your gates, O princes,
Open wide, eternal gates,
That the King of Glory may enter in. . . .

Christmas Eve at Home
It must be so that the grown-ups may devote themselves with a quiet mind, unhindered by any commotion, to these great mysteries of the Holy Night, that in most Catholic countries the giving of gifts has been advanced to Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve is an appropriate time for the exchange of gifts, after the Christ-Child has been placed in the manger, and the special prayers before the crib — and a round of Christmas carols — are over. If the gifts are given out before the Midnight Mass, the children can concentrate more easily on the great mystery which is celebrated, when the Greatest Gift is given to all alike, even those who have received no material expression of Christmas love. And then, too, Christmas Day with its two additional Masses can be devoted more to the contemplation of the Christmas mystery and the demands of Christmas hospitality.

The opening of the eternal gates through which the King of Glory may enter is indicated by the wreath on the door of our homes at Christmastide. The Advent wreath, which accompanied the family throughout the season of preparation may be taken down. The violet ribbons are removed, and it is gloriously decorated with white and gold. It is then placed upon the door as a symbol of the welcome of Christ into our city, our home and our hearts. On Christmas Eve the whole house should be strewn with garlands and made ready for the Light of the World. The crib is set in a special place of honor, for tonight the central figure of the Nativity scene is to arrive.


Today is Day Nine of the Christmas Novena.

Vigil Mass, Christmas Eve
Station with Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major):

The station church for the Vigil Mass of Christmas, and also for the Midnight Mass (at the Crib) and the Christmas Mass during the day is the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. St. Mary Major is considered "Bethlehem" to the Romans. It is the Savior of the world Himself who is promised to us the next day, as the Alleluia verse and Communion Antiphon tells us.

For more on Santa Maria Maggiore, see:

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