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Vigils Reading

November 28, 2022

The Six Aspects of Advent

A sermon by St. Bernard of Clairvaux[1]


Today, brothers, we celebrate the beginning of Advent.  Its name, at least – like those of the other solemn seasons – is familiar enough and known to all the world, yet the reason behind the name is perhaps not so.  Weigh well the reasoning behind this Advent – this coming.


The Son’s coming was not accomplished apart from the loftiest counsels of the Trinity, and if we consider the cause of our exile, we can perhaps note – even if only in part – how appropriate it was that the Son should set us free.  That Daystar [Lucifer] who rose at dawn, was cast down and fell headlong because he tried to usurp the likeness of the Most High and thought equality with God – which belongs to the Son – something to be grasped.


You see how [Lucifer] is truly what the Lord said, a liar, and the father of lies.  He was a liar when he said, I will be like the Most High, and he was the father of lies when he poured out the poison of his deceit upon human beings, telling them,  You shall be like gods.  You too, you human being, if you see thieves, you go along with them.


In fact, our leaders, Adam and Eve, the leading figures of our race, were disobedient and the companions of thieves; at the instigation of the serpent – or rather of the devil in the guise of a serpent – , they tried to steal what belongs to the Son of God.  The Father did not ignore the insult to the Son – for the Father loves the Son – but immediately took vengeance on humanity and made his hand heavy upon us.

What should the Son do when he sees the Father zealous on his behalf and unsparing of any creature?  ‘See’, he says, ‘because of me the Father is losing his creatures…on my account he has lost many of the angels and all of the human beings.  Therefore, so that they may know that I love the Father, let those whom he seems somehow to have lost on my account be restored to him through me.  If this storm has arisen on my account, says Jonah, pick me up and throw me into the sea!’


‘They all envied me.  I am coming, and I am showing myself to be such that anyone who chooses to be envious, who aches to imitate me, may do so, and this emulation may become a good thing.’


So then, Lord, I entreat, be pleased to rescue me, for I am weak…Let Truth come so that falsehood can be exposed and that I will recognize the truth and the truth will set me free, if only I altogether renounce falsehood once exposed and cling fast to the truth once recognized.

[1] Bernard of Clairvaux.  Sermons for Advent and the Christmas Season. Ed. John Leinenweber. Trans. Irene Edmonds, Wendy Mary Beckett, and Conrad Grenia, OCSO.  CF 51. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 2007.  3-7.


November 28, 2022
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