In Anticipation of Our Needs

I am continually surprised by the beauty of the liturgical rhythms of the Catholic Church. I know I shouldn’t be at this point, but I am. There are some people who don’t believe that our planned-out liturgies and Biblical readings are a good thing, that we should do as we think the Spirit moves us, but I couldn’t disagree more with this idea. By using a set pattern and a set liturgical calendar, we cover most of the Bible over a three-year period, covering even more if we attend daily Mass in addition to Sunday Mass each week. And the prayers that are pre-written for us throughout the liturgical year are carefully crafted in order to bring us closer to God, focusing on particular messages that we should be picking up on within the context or Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours.

Every year, I see something new in the prayers and readings during Advent; this year, I’ve been focusing on the prayers at the end of Lauds and Vespers each day, and this is where I’ve found new beauty. The prayers contain not just supplications and praise for God, but also advice on how to have a fruitful Advent!

Don’t believe me? Have a look at Monday of the First Week of Advent:


Lord, our God,
help us to prepare
for the coming of Christ Your Son.
May He find us waiting,
eager in joyful prayer.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Prayer. This is the call for the day — to pray joyfully for the coming of Christ: into our hearts, into our world.

Tuesday gives us another clue to a fruitful Advent:


God of mercy and consolation,
help us in our weakness and free us from sin.
Hear our prayers
that we may rejoice at the coming of Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.



Each day the pattern continues with another call to make our hearts a welcome place for the Lord. Each day, we beg God for help to do this, acknowledging that we cannot do it on our own. The prayer for today shows this very idea:


All-powerful Father,
we await the healing power of Christ Your Son.
Let us not be discouraged by our weaknesses
as we prepare for His coming.
Keep us steadfast in Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Very often, I’m finding that these prayers reflect the needs I have as I make my way through Advent. I’m trying to draw near to God, to mend my ways, to live as if it’s my time to go any moment. And yet I fail — rather spectacularly, most of the time. I don’t pray as I should. I don’t hold my temper in check. I fail to be charitable. And just as I begin to feel discouraged, this prayer comes along in Lauds to remind me that God is with me, offering to help me begin again and to do better.


If you’re looking for a way to deepen your faith during Advent, may I recommend that you try praying Morning and Evening prayers from now until Christmas? Use this time between now and the celebration of the Baby in the manger to contemplate the Psalms, to pray them as the Israelites prayed them as they waited for the Messiah. Contemplate how you can make your heart a welcome place for the Savior this Advent season.


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