Sunday, 16 December 2007

Gaudete Sunday

Today is the third Sunday of Advent, traditionally called 'Gaudete Sunday', from the Latin meaning 'Rejoice'. The title alludes to today's entrance antiphon: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say: rejoice! The Lord is near" (Philippians 4:4-5). As the season of Advent continues, we are told to find joy in the knowledge that God is coming closer to us each day. This afternoon, as part of our Advent preparation, the Cathedral held a service of prayers, carols and readings. Much of the music and many of the prayers focussed on Mary, who prepared for Christ's coming when she said 'yes' to the Angel at the Annunciation.

During the service a statue of Our Lady and the child Jesus stood on the sanctuary, surrounded by candles. Mary is a great - if quiet - figure of Advent. She was the first to welcome the Lord to earth; she provides an example to each of us. The candles are important too, as the Lord's approach dispels the darkness of sin and death which had become part of our human existance. In the subdued light of the church they not only looked beautiful; they also stood out as signs of the hope which the Saviour brings us.