In the past, we have seen day by day the Collects for all the days of Lent according to the Novus Ordo. I thought I would do something similar with the prayers for Advent.
I won’t make references to the lame-duck ICEL renditions. They aren’t worthy of our attention.
So we can turn our attention to the
Fac nos, quaesumus, Domine Deus noster,
adventum Christi Filii tui sollicitos expectare,
ut, dum venerit pulsans, orationibus vigilantes,
et in suis inveniat laudibus exsultantes.
We beseech You, O Lord our God, cause
us anxious ones to await the Coming of Christ Your Son,
so that, while He will have come knocking,
He will find us being vigilant in prayers and rejoicing in His praises.
The prime images here are Christ, on the move and coming to the door, where He stands knocking. We, on the other hand are within, keeping vigil. Thus, it is dark, late night, early morning. So, there is an interesting tension in the prayer. It compresses three distinct moments: Christ in motion, coming to the door. Christ at the door knocking. Christ entering through the door and finding the state we are in. The use of the present participles makes this tension possibles.
This prayer is from a very ancient source. It is adapted from an oration in the Gelasian Sacramentary. Here is the ancient text with the main differences underscored.
Fac nos, quaesumus, domine deus noster, peruigiles atque sollicitos aduentum expectare Christi filii tui domini nostri, ut dum venerit pulsans, non dormientis [sic] peccatis sed vigilantes et in suis inveniat laudibus exsultantes. That dormientis is like dormientes, an alternate form.
Do you see any theological difference? The text is slightly rearranged, but that doesn’t make too much difference. The main thing is that the snip-pasters of the Novus Ordo cut out the concept of sin: "so that when He will have come, He will not find (us) sleeping in sins, but waking…".
This gives us a little more insight. Remember that during Advent was have the constant cry to "Wake up!" In ancient times (and in the 1962MR and in the 2002MR) the lesson for Sunday, yesterday, was from Romans 13 where Paul says
Brethren, knowing that it is now the hour for us to rise from our sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is past and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Novus Ordo Gospel from Matthew 24 for Sunday Jesus says: "Therefore, stay awake!"
In another place the Lord describes how wise servants stay alert even during the night when the master is gone and must come home to find them ready to open the door to him. In Matthew 24 Jesus speaks of the need for the master of the house to be vigilant against the enemy, the thief who would steal what is precious: our eternal happiness. I find it interesting that Christ speaks of the need for both master and servants to be vigilant. There is a measure of shared responsibility. In fact, the master will serve the servants. In Luke 12 we read:
“Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.”
And not forgetting that the season of Advent is about the Coming of the Lord at the end of things to judge the living and the dead, we can consider also the Book of Revelation 3:
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write this: ” ‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this: “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. ” ‘”Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, (then) I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.