An image of Mary during her pregnancy from the Czech Republic.
Today is the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday. The day takes its name from the first word of the introit of today’s Mass:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.
The Marian antiphon Alma Redemptoris Mater is sung in the Catholic Church from the first Sunday of Advent, which is today, until Candlemas.
Loving Mother of our Savior, hear thou thy people’s cry. Star of the deep and Portal of the sky! Mother of Him who thee made from nothing made. Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid: Oh, by what joy which Gabriel brought to thee, Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.
Our Lady of Expectation
In this painting Mary is depicted at the centre of the Christian salvation story. She is pregnant with Christ, symbolised by the IHS. She is also in the presence of God the Father (the triangle) and the Holy Spirit (the dove).
With her right foot Mary crushes the head of the old serpert, a symbol of Satan and all evil.
Today is the last Sunday of Advent, which is known as Rorate Sunday. This is the introitus of today’s Mass.
This introitus is also sung at the beginning of Rorate Masses, which are special Advent celebrations in honour of Mary.
Especially in German speaking countries it has been a long standing tradition to celebrate this votive Mass in the early hours of the morning during Advent. Since the Second Vatican Counsil the Mass can also be celebrated in the evening.
Bedew us, heavens, from above; ye clouds, rain down the Just One. Let the earth be opened up, and produce the Saviour. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament declares the work of His hands.