Now that we have briefly covered the historical origins of Advent, I would like to muse on a curious Advent abstinence. The practices of fasting and abstinence have deep biblical roots.
During Advent, we typically refrain from singing the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo / Glory to God in the Highest" hymn (which is usually sung towards the beginning of Mass). Why?
1) Remember that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Like the Lenten abstinence from the Alleluia this practice can help us to rediscover the purpose and power of the Gloria.
2) After four weeks of this peculiar spiritual starvation we are hungry for that hymn! We finally sing the Gloria on Christmas Eve at Midnight Mass. This can be a powerful moment.
3) The beauty of the decorated Church synthesizes with the profundity of the Gloria as sight and sound unite in giving praise to God. I like to think that all those flowers and Christmas decorations are an artistic expression of that hymn. Now I know why I have eyes, ears and a voice!
4) Finally, we remember again where the Gloria came from. In Luke 2 we read that the Angels sang it to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem on the very night Jesus was born! So when we sing it again at Midnight Mass, we are caught up in a tremendous moment of memory, wonder and worship. Like that choir of Angels so long ago, we give thanks with jubilant joy that Christ is born again - in our hearts that silent, holy night.
+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
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