Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò: Meditation for the Advent Season
Meditation for the Advent Season
by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

[Image: mgr_vigano_15_10_2021.jpg]

Medias-Presse [computer-translated and adapted]| November 27, 2021


"Quaere, worried, servum tuum, quoniam mandata tua non sum oblitus." »  Veni ergo, Domine Jesu, quaere servum tuum, quaere lassam ovem tuam; veni, pastor, quaere sicut oves Joseph. Erravit ovis tua, dum tu moraris, dum tu versaris in montibus. Dimitte nonaginta novem oves tuas, and veni unam ovem quaerere quae erravit. Veni sine canibus, veni sine malis operariis, veni sine mercenario, which per januam introire non noverit. Veni sine adjutore, sine nuntio, jam dudum te expecto venturum; scio enim venturum, quoniam mandata tua non sum oblitus. Veni non cum virga, sed cum caritate spirituque mansuetudinis.[1]

The season of Advent is an ancient institution and we find it mentioned to the Vth century as a time of the liturgical year for the preparation of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ secundum carnem. Indeed, Advent marks the beginning of the Liturgical Year, which allows us to seize this opportunity to follow the voice of the Church with holy intentions.

The discipline of penance and fasting during Lent in preparation for Easter is certainly of apostolic origin, while that in expectatione Domini is later and inspired by the first, but less rigid and passed over the centuries to abstinence only, certain days of the week. “It is true that St. Peter Damien, in the eleventh century, still supposes that the Advent fast was forty days, and that St. Louis, two centuries later, continued to observe it to this extent; but perhaps this holy king practiced it thus by a transport of particular devotion” [2]. The slackening of modern generations has prompted the maternal wisdom of the Church to ease the rigors of the past, without preventing them from being practiced voluntarily; but perhaps the current situation leads us to consider as appropriate, precisely because they are not imposed, the privations practiced by our ancestors in obedience to an ecclesiastical precept.

The Advent liturgy owes a great deal to the work of Saint Gregory the Great, not only for the texts of the Office and the Mass, but also for the plainsong compositions themselves. The old trope Sanctissimus namque, which introduces the introit Ad te levavi of the First Sunday of Advent, recalls the inspiration of the Holy Pontiff through the Holy Spirit, who appeared in the form of a dove [3]. First six, then five weeks of preparation for Holy Christmas were [later] reduced to four between the end of the IXth and early Xth century, so that the current use is at least a thousand years old. The Ambrosian Church maintains another six weeks, for a total of forty-two days, on the model of Lent.

St. Ambrose, Father and Doctor of the Church, is one of the first authors of homilies on the theme of Advent. I would like to begin this meditation with a prayer taken from the Commentary on Psalm 118. The Incipit of the prayer is Quaere, inquit, servum tuum. As you can see, the whole text is peppered with quotes from Sacred Scripture: not to flaunt a biblical culture, which the holy Bishop of Milan certainly possessed, but because of this knowledge of the Word of God which is the fruit of an intimate and almost vital assiduity for the soul, as air is essential for breathing. This assiduity led Saint Ambrose to speak and write himself using the words of the sacred Author, not because he wanted to plagiarize the divine Wisdom, but because he had made them his own so much that he made them his own. repeated in his turn without noticing it.

When we approach, almost as laymen, the writings of these saints, we may feel somewhat disoriented and confused. But if we have the grace to participate in liturgical prayer by attending Mass and reciting the Divine Office according to the traditional form, we discover that it is the voice of the Church herself that accompanies us in this meditation. of the Scriptures, from the Invitatory to Matins. And this also applies to the Advent liturgy: Regem venturum Dominum, venite adoremus, sings the first prayer which is intoned in the middle of the night as we await the rising of the true undefeated Sun. This solemn invitation to worship the divine King is followed by the beginning of the book of the prophet Isaiah, which sounds like a severe rebuke to his people:

“Hear, heavens, hear, earth, thus says the Lord: 'I have brought up and brought up children, but they rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, and the donkey his master's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. 'Woe to you, people of sinners, people of iniquity! You are wicked and corrupt sons! They abandoned the Lord, they despised the Holy One of Israel, they turned back. Why do you still want to be hit, building up rebellion? The whole head is sick, the whole heart is languishing. From the soles of the feet to the crown of the head there is nothing healthy, but wounds and bruises and open wounds which have not been cleaned, nor dressed, nor healed with oil."(Is 1,2-6).

The oracle of the Prophet shows the indignation of the Lord before the infidelity of his people, obstinate in their rebellion against His holy law. But the literal or historical sense [4] of Isaiah's passage concerning the Jews is accompanied by the moral sense, that is, concerning what we are to do. It is therefore to us that the Majesty of God turns: “Thus saith the Lord ” (ibid., 2), to admonish us, once again, to show us our betrayals, to urge us to conversion.

So, as we ask the Lord to deliver us from ore leonis and de profundo lacu, we realize how much we do not deserve God's mercy, how much we are unworthy of his mercy, and how much we deserve his punishments. Deus, who culpa offenderis, pœnitentia placaris ...To the prostitutions - as Scripture calls them - into which the Jews fell, are added new and much worse prostitutions, not of the people to whom the Redeemer was promised, but of those born from His side, the Mystical Body. of the Redeemer Himself; or rather, of those who call themselves Catholics, but who, by their infidelity, dishonor the Bride of the Lamb, as members of the taught and teaching Church. The new Israel has been no less rebellious than the old, and the new Roman Sanhedrin is no less culpable than those who made the golden calf and offered it for the worship of the Jews. Therefore the Prophet threatens with terrible plagues those who have disobeyed the Lord without seeing the coming Messiah.

In the dramatic crisis that has struck the Church of Christ for sixty years, and which is manifested today in all its gravity, a pusillus grex asks his Lord to spare lost humanity, while corruption and apostasy have penetrated even into the sacred enclosure and onto the highest throne. And he is pusillus because the majority of those who have been regenerated by Baptism and thus deserved to be called “sons of God” daily deny the promises of this Baptism, under the leadership of hirelings and false shepherds.

Think how many believers, who have grown up in absolute ignorance of the rudiments of the Faith despite having followed the catechism, are imbued with heretical philosophical and theological doctrines, convinced that all religions are equivalent; that man is not injured by the original fault but naturally good; that the State must ignore the true Religion and tolerate error; that the mission of the Church is not the eternal salvation of souls and their conversion to Christ, but the protection of the environment and the blind welcome of immigrants. Think of those who, although they fulfill the festive precept, do not know that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord are contained in the Holy Host, and think that it is only a symbol; think of those who are convinced that it is enough for them to repent in their hearts to receive communion, without imagining the torments which weigh on those who unworthily receive the Body and Blood of the Lord. 

Think how many priests, men and women religious and sisters believe that the Council brought a breath of renewal to the Church, or that it favored the knowledge of Sacred Scripture, or that it enabled the laity to understand the liturgy, until then ignored by the masses and jealously guarded by a caste of rigid and intolerant clerics. Think of those who saw in Her an indestructible beacon against the darkness of the world, an impregnable fortress against the onslaught of the “modern” mentality, of widespread immorality, of the defense of life from conception to its natural end. At last, think of the irrepressible satisfaction of the enemies of Christ to see His Church prostrate before the world, its ideologies of death, the idolatry of the State, of power, of money, of the myths of false science; a Church ready to deny its own glorious past, to adulterate the Faith and Morals that Our Lord taught it, to corrupt its liturgy to please heretics and sectarians: even the most delirious ramblings of the worst Freemason would not have could hope to see the cry of Voltaire come true: 'Crush the infamous!'

During Advent, we stand symbolically at the doors of the temple, like Ash Wednesday in Lent, and we observe from afar what is happening at the altar: here the birth of the King of Israel, there his Passion, his Death and his Resurrection. Imagine that we have to do a self-examination before being admitted to the holy place, as individual faithful and as members of the ecclesial body. We can approach the worship of the King of kings, of the Lord of Lords, only if we understand, on the one hand, the infinite Good that is offered to us in the swaddling clothes of the manger, and on the other hand, our absolute unworthiness, which must necessarily be accompanied by the horror of our sins, the pain of having infinitely offended God and the desire to repair the evil committed by penance and good works. And we must also understand that, as living members of the Church, we also have a collective responsibility for the faults of other faithful and of our pastors; and as citizens we have a responsibility for the public faults of nations. Indeed, the Communion of Saints allows us to share with the souls of Purgatory and with the blessed souls of Heaven their merits, in order to counterbalance in an incomparably more effective way this “communion of the ungodly” which brings down the effects of their bad actions on their neighbors, especially on other people who are enemies of God. We have a responsibility for the public faults of nations. Indeed, the Communion of Saints allows us to share with the souls of Purgatory and with the blessed souls of Heaven their merits, in order to counterbalance in an incomparably more effective way this “communion of the ungodly” which brings down the effects of their bad actions on their neighbors, especially on other people who are enemies of God. we have a responsibility for the public faults of nations. Indeed, the Communion of Saints allows us to share with the souls of Purgatory and with the blessed souls of Heaven their merits, in order to counterbalance in an incomparably more effective way this “communion of the ungodly” which brings down the effects of their bad actions on their neighbors, especially on other people who are enemies of God.

“Come to me, who am tormented by the attack of dangerous wolves," exclaims Saint Ambrose. “Come to me, who have been cast out of paradise and whose wounds have long been penetrated by the poisons of the serpent, to me who wandered far from your flocks in these mountains."

We begin to realize that we are besieged by predatory wolves: by those who sow error, by those who corrupt morals, by those who propagate death and despair, by those who want to kill us in our souls first. even killing us in our body. We realize how superficial, stupid and proud we have been to allow ourselves to be deceived by the false promises of the world, of the flesh and of the devil; how false were the words of those who, since the expulsion of our first Parents, continue to repeat the same temptations, to exploit our weaknesses, to appeal to our pride or our vices to bring us down and drag us along with them in hell. We have forgotten that we have been cast out of the earthly paradise, that we bear the marks of the poisonous bite of the serpent, that we have sinned by abandoning the sure pastures of true faith to allow ourselves to be seduced by the world, by the flesh, by the devil. Indeed, if we lived with the awareness of our initial guilt - which is also a collective guilt and moreover hereditary - and of all the evil that we commit and that we allow to be committed; if we meditate on our inability to save ourselves, except by the supernatural help that God grants us by Grace; if we convince ourselves that many of our acts are grave offenses against the Majesty of God and that we deserve to be wiped off the face of the earth in a way much worse than what happened to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, then we wouldn't even need the Good Shepherd to come and get us," Kidnapper wolves cannot attack them ".

The holy Bishop adds: “ Come without dogs, come without bad workers, come without the mercenary who cannot pass the door. Come without assistance, without a messenger,” because the dogs, the bad workers and the mercenary servant are passing figures, destined to perish, to be dispersed at the breath of the mouth of God, even if at this moment it seems that the world belongs to them. “ So come and look for your sheep, not by servants, not by mercenaries, but you in person,” the unfaithful servants invite us to be “resilient” and “inclusive”, to listen to the “cry of Mother Earth” [5 ] , to have us vaccinated with a serum made with cells from aborted fetuses; the mercenary, "cujus non sunt oves propriæ” (…) disperses us, abandons us, does not chase ferocious wolves and does not punish bad workers, but on the contrary encourages them.

Why then should the Lord come? Why can we ask Him, "Come in person"? Saint Ambrose answers with prayer, quoting the psalmist: “For I have not forgotten your commandments” (Ps 118, 176). Our obedience to the will of God finds a perfect correspondence - and a divine example - in the obedience of the Eternal Son of the Father from the eternity of time, agreeing to incarnate, to suffer and to die for our salvation: “Then I say: Behold, I come - for it is written of me in the scroll of the book - to do your will, O God.” (Heb 10,7). The Lord comes in obedience to the Father and we must await His coming by being in our turn obedient to the will of the Holy Trinity, “for I have not forgotten your commandments ”.

The reason we can be sure that the Lord will come and seek us, delivering us from the attack of wolves and the nefarious influence of bad workers and mercenaries, is that we must not forget what He has commanded us; we should not take His place in deciding what is good and what is bad; we must not follow the multitude into the abyss out of human respect or out of cowardice or complicity, but remain like the ninety-nine sheep in the safe pastures of the Holy Church, "for the ravishing wolves cannot attack them as long as they are in the mountains”, closer to God by being detached from earthly things. Likewise, we must show a holy humility, recognizing ourselves as sinners: “Come and seek the only sheep that has gone astray”, because “only you can bring back the lost sheep and you will not make suffer those from whom you have strayed,” that is to say the Catholics of all times, who remained faithful, safe from wolves in the high pastures. "And they too will rejoice at the return of the sinner."

Saint Ambrose's prayer continues with a very deep and meaningful expression: “Receive me in the flesh that fell in Adam. Receive me not from Sarah, but from Mary, so that she may not only be an inviolable virgin, but a virgin preserved by the effect of grace, from every stain of sin . »In Mary most holy, Sancta Virgo virginum, we find the Mediator of all graces: in Her, very pure creature, the eternal Word of the Father was incarnated, from Her was born the Savior in the world; through Her we are presented to Her divine Son, and through Her merits we can be received "in the flesh that fell in Adam." By virtue of the Grace which restores us friendship with God. An excellent starting point for meditation in preparation for Christmas.

But there is another very important consideration that Saint Ambrose gives us at the end of his prayer: "Lead me to the cross which gives salvation to the wanderers, in which only the rest of the weary is found, in which only the one will live who died." Everything revolves around the Cross of Christ, it stands in time and in eternity as a sign of contradiction, because it reminds us that it is the instrument of Redemption, salvation for the wandering, rest for the tired, life for the dying. An image of the XIVth century Pacino di Buonaguida [6] offers a very rare and highly symbolic image: the Lord rises upon the Cross with a scale - the scala virtutum- to underline the voluntary nature of his sacrifice and the “paradox” of his double nature.

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In the iconography of the XVIIth century, we find a recurring image of the Child Jesus asleep on the Cross [7], an allusion explicit to divine love and sacrifice of Christ. Christmas and Easter are intrinsically linked, so as we prepare for the birth of the Savior, we must always contemplate as the center and focus precisely the Cross, on which the infant Jesus rests and on which the Immaculate Lamb ascends by a mystical scale. This is where we too must arrive, because it is only on the Cross that we find salvation, following the Lord: “ If anyone wants to come after me, let him renounce himself, take up his cross every day and follow me ”(Lk 9,23).

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Veni, ut facias salutem in terris, in coelo gaudium,” “Come and bring salvation on earth, joy in heaven."
May it be our invocation during this sacred time of Advent, to prepare us spiritually for the trials that await us.

+ Carlo Maria Viganò, archbishop

November 28, 2021
1st Sunday of Advent

Translation by F. de Villasmundo, proofread and corrected by Mgr Viganò 


[1]»Come therefore, Lord Jesus, seek your servant [Ps 118, 176] seek your weary sheep. Come, shepherd, seek, as Joseph sought the sheep [Gn 37:14]. Your sheep has wandered, while you procrastinate, as you walk in the mountains. Let your ninety-nine sheep go, and come and look for the one that has gone astray [Mt 18, 12 sqq .; Lk 15, 4]. Come without dogs, come without bad workers, come without the hired servant, who does not enter through the door [Jn 10, 1-7]. Come without assistance, without a messenger. I have been waiting for your coming for a long time. For I know that you will come, for I have not forgotten your commandments [Ps 118, 176]. Do not come with a rod, but with charity and in a spirit of meekness[Cor 4:21]. "Sancti Ambrosii Episcopi Expositio Psalmi CXVIII, 22, 2
[2] Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year , I. Advent - Christmas - Lent - Passion, trad. it. P. Graziani, Alba, 1959, pp. 21-26.
[3] " Sanctissimus namque Gregorius cum preces effunderet ad Dominum ut musicum donum ei desuper in carminibus dedisset , tunc descended Spiritus Sanctus super eum, in specie columbæ, et illustravit cor ejus, et sic demum exortus est canere, ita dicendo: Ad te levavi …  "- Trope at the Introit of the First Sunday of Advent -
[4] Littera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria, moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia (The letter teaches what happened, the allegory what you must believe, the moral what you must do, the end towards which you must strive) - Nicolas de Lyre, Postilla in Gal. , 4, 3.
[5] See and il-grido-della-terra-e-dei-poveri
[6] See - A painting from the school of Giotto with an identical subject can be found in the monastery of Sant'Antonio in Polesine, in Ferrara. See also Anna Eörsi, Haec scala significat ascensum virtutum. Notes on the iconography of Christ ascending the cross on a ladder -
[7] See, for example, the painting by Guido Reni, The Child Jesus asleep on the Cross, oil on canvas, circa 1625.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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