The presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the liturgy of Advent is like the fragrance of roses in December. Mary is everywhere, drawing us after her into the mystery of Christ. The monastic tradition signifies her presence by singing the Missus Est Angelus, a Solemn Responsory at First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent: “The Angel Gabriel was sent to Mary.” The Alma Redemptoris Mater invites us every evening to look to Mary even as, falling in our weakness, we seek to rise again through grace. December 8th shone for us with the brightness of the Immaculate Conception of Mary full of grace. On the 9th Saint Juan Diego called us to the contemplation of Mary in poverty of spirit. On December 12th, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of our Lord visits us again and we, like Elizabeth, are filled with wonder.
On December 20th, we will celebrate Advent’s Golden Mass and hear again the solemn singing of the Missus Est, the Gospel of the Annunciation. Finally, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Virgin Mary will emerge from the sacred texts as the Cause of Our Joy. In 1974 Pope Paul VI, of blessed memory, called Advent “a season singularly suited to offering veneration to the Mother of God” (Marialis Cultus, art. 4).
The outward expressions of a childlike and tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin are many. It is always possible, even in Advent, to flower the images of the Mother of God in our churches and to burn candles in her honour. Apart from the many allusions to the Blessed Virgin in the sacred liturgy, there are other forms of prayer particularly suited to the stillness and longing of the Advent heart: first among these is the Rosary which can always been enriched by meditating the ten mysteries of the Blessed Virgin’s own life and of the Divine Infancy:
— the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne;
— the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
— the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple;
— the Betrothal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph;
— the Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
— the Visitation and Expectancy of the Blessed Virgin Mary
— the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ
— the Circumcision and Naming of Our Lord
— the Adoration of the Magi
— the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
There is also the Little Crown of the Immaculate Conception, a simple prayer dear to many saints. The Mother of Christ is sensitive to smallest expressions of our love for her. Her response to them is magnificently disproportionate. For a very little thing, she gives great graces in return or, as Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort put it in homely peasant terms, “pour un oeuf elle donne un boeuf — in exchange for an egg, she gives a whole cow.”