On this day the Church urges us to gladness in the middle of this time of expectation and penitence: the coming of Jesus approaches more and more. This Sunday is called “Gaudete” (Rejoice) from the first word of the Introit. The whole of this Mass is filled with the sentiments of joy with which the Church wishes our souls to be filled at the approach of the Saviour. St. John, the holy precursor, announces to the Jews the coming of the Saviour. “The Saviour,” he says to them, “lives already among us, though unknown. He will soon appear openly.” Now is the time for fervent prayers and for imploring Jesus to remain with us by His mercy. Let us joyfully prepare the way for Him by repentance and penitence and by a worthy reception of the Sacraments.
The Roman Emperor Constantine had erected a Basilica on the hill of the Vatican, on the very spot where St. Peter was martyred and where his body rests. It is there that the Mass of the Third Sunday of Advent was always celebrated in Rome.
Truly we should rejoice in the Lord: Gaudéte in Dómino. This is introduced in the Introit and carried throughout today’s Mass, especially the Epistle where St. Paul tells the Philippians, “The Lord is nigh, rejoice in the Lord.” We pray this day that our faith and hope in Jesus Christ our Lord, always increase! Like St. John, Precursor of Our Lord, who announced the coming of the Messiah, telling of His majesty and greatness, we must join the Baptist in effacing ourselves before Him never be afraid to give testimony of the true Light – the Saviour of the world. At Christmas Christ will come to deliver us more and more from the bondage of sin.
St Lucy Hagiography states that Saint Lucy was a Christian martyr during the Diocletian persecution. According to apocryphal texts, the beautiful Lucia was born to a prosperous family of nobility in Syracuse on the island of Sicily. In the days of early Christian persecution, legends say that Lucia carried food to Christians hiding in dark underground tunnels. To light the way she wore a wreath of candles on her head. St Lucy, a native of Syracuse, Sicily, consecrated herself to God from her childhood. Her mother did not know of her vow and wished her to marry a young pagan. At the tomb of St. Agatha, she prayed for the cure of her mother from a serious disease. When this prayer was granted she informed her mother of her vow, to which her mother then consented. When the young pagan saw her distributing her goods among the poor, his anger knew no bounds. He accused her before Paschasius, the governor, of being a Christian. She was brought before a judge who commanded her to be exposed to temptation in an evil house. But God watched over her and made her absolutely immovable so that no number of guards could carry her to that place. In a similar way He preserved her from the pains of fire and other dreadful torments. Finally she died in prison of wounds she had received in 304. To give her even more honour her name is included in the Canon of the Mass.
Her name, which means “light,” probably accounts for the story that her eyes were put out and her eyesight miraculously restored, and may be connected with the fact that her feast occurs near the time when (in the Northern Hemisphere) the nights are longest. In Italy, torchlight processions and bonfires mark her day, and bowls of a cooked wheat porridge known as cuccia is eaten because, during a famine, the people of Syracuse invoked St. Lucy, who interceded by sending a ship laden with grain (much as St. Joseph also did for the people of Sicily). In Sweden the day is observed by having one of the daughters of the house dress in a white robe with a crown of lighted candles and go singing from room to room early in the morning when it is still dark to awaken the other family members and to offer them St. Lucy’s Cakes and hot coffee. In Sweden, there are also public processions of “Lucias,” and cities will elect an official “Lucia” for the year, with Sweden electing a national representative of the Saint.
INTROIT Philippians 4: 4-6
Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything by prayer let your petitions be made known to God.(Ps. 84: 2) Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. v. Glory be to the Father…
Incline Thy ear, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to our petitions: and, by the grace of Thy visitation, enlighten the darkness of our minds. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God., Forever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St Lucy, Virgin Martyr
Harken unto us, O God, our salvation, that as because of the festival of blessed Lucy we rejoice, so by reason of our feeling of loving devotion may we become better grounded in doctrine. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
Collect for the Blessed Mother
O God, Who didst will that at the message of an angel Thy word should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that we, Thy suppliants, who believe her to be truly the mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee.
Collect for God’s Holy Church
Graciously hear, O Lord, the prayers of Thy Church that, having overcome all adversity and every error, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Philippians 4: 4-7
Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Philippians. Brethren, Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 49: 2,3, 5
Thou, O Lord, that sittest upon the cherubim, stir up Thy might and come. V. Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: that leadest Joseph like a sheep. Alleluia, alleluia. V. Stir up, O Lord, Thy might, and come to save us. Alleluia.
GOSPEL John 1: 19-28
At that time the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the Prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. The same is He that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
R. Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 84: 2-3
Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob: Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy people.
Be appeased, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by the prayers and sacrifices of our humility: and where we lack pleading merits of our own, do Thou, by Thine aid, assist us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St Lucy, Virgin Martyr
May the offering of Thy consecrated people be accepted by Thee, O Lord, in honor of Thy saints, by whose merits it knoweth that it hath received aid in time of trouble.
Secret for the Blessed Virgin Mary
Strengthen in our minds, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the mysteries of the true faith, that, confessing Him Who was conceived of the Virgin to be true God and true man, we may deserve, through the power of His saving resurrection, to attain everlasting joy.
Secret for God’s Holy Church
Protect us, O Lord, who assist at Thy mysteries, that, cleaving to things divine, we may serve Thee both in body and in mind. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Most Holy Trinity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, ever-lasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Isaias 35: 4
Say, ye faint-hearted and fear not: behold our God will come, and will save us.
We implore, O Lord, Thy mercy: that these divine helps may expiate our sins, and prepare us for the approaching feast. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.
Commemoration of St Lucy, Virgin Martyr
Thou hast regaled Thy household, O Lord, with sacred gifts: do Thou ever comfort us, by her intervention whose solemnity we are celebrating.
Postcommunion for the Blessed Virgin Mary
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of His resurrection.
Postcommunion for God’s Holy Church
O Lord our God, we pray Thee that Thou suffer not to succumb to human hazards those whom Thou hast been pleased to make sharers of divine mysteries. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.