Since we can learn much from what we pray day in and day out in our Liturgy it would be profitable for us to reflect more profoundly upon the prayers of each day. We should especially do this over the season of Advent which marks the end of one liturgical year, and the beginning of the next. This is the 2nd of a series of posts which will be focused upon the prayers in the Mass during the time of Advent. Look for new posts about once a week during the season of Advent. The other posts for the Advent Season are here: (Week I ) (Week III)(Week IV)
In our commercial culture the time before Christmas is celebrated as if it were already Christmas Day, and is seen merely as shopping season in preparation for the exchange of presents of Christmas. In the midst of this cultural attitude towards this season of preparation, it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing Advent as merely a warning track which tells us to get ready for presents, family, and good food. The Collect of the Second Sunday prays that these other things may never hinder us from hastening to meet Our Lord by preparing ourselves for his coming.
Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Like the previous week’s collect again the focus is less upon the upcoming feast of the Nativity and more concerned with the Parousia. As we continue our time of preparation we are reminded that “earthly undertakings” can often cause us to lose sight of the true meaning of our lives, which is to seek the beatific vision. It is important to note that our, “earthly undertakings are not cast in a negative light except in their ability to hinder us for our single-minded pursuit of Christ and his company.” The prayer then does not imply that the Church sees these earthly undertakings as evil in themselves but rather that they can become so if we allow them to blind us to our true vocation.
Commenting on the culture of our time, Cardinal Ratzinger writes, “Advent is a time when we can say that a kindness that is otherwise almost entirely forgotten is mobilized; namely the willingness to think of others and to give them a token of kindness.” This last vestigial kindness is a sign pointing towards the reality that Advent is meant to be a time in which we are moved from out lethargy, awakened, and quickened to live with renewed vigor for the Lord’s return. We must be willing “to shake off the dream that causes us to bypass our true vocation and our best possibilities.” This is the grace for which we are praying: to never allow our other desires to assume prominence over our desire to be with Christ. Thus, we pray also for heavenly wisdom which judges not as man does but as God does. Through it we are strengthened to order our desires for good things so that all of them aide us in the one preeminent and essential desire for Christ. With our eyes are opened by this wisdom, we will even be able to give up joyfully good things for the sake of pursuing better things. Such a renunciation is essential for us if we want to be prepared to meet the Lord when He comes. We must be ready with our lamps and oil when the bridegroom comes and it is through renunciation of some other things that we are free from the busyness of the world enough to be prepared daily for Christ’s coming.
In the midst of our busyness do we take time to reflect upon the last things, and to recognize that the King of Kings, the Babe of Bethlehem, will come again in glory and majesty “to judge the living and the dead?” Do we allow this knowledge to affect how we live our lives each day? What is holding me back from giving all? My challenge for all of us this week is reflect on these questions, and to take some time to assess how being Christian affects our lives, after doing so try and find one earthly thing (salt on food, chocolate, a TV show, Facebook) to give up this week – when you want to have that thing take it as a reminder to focus your desire more fully on Christ. Let him fufill your desires and you will never be disappointed.
 “Commentary on the Proper Prayers of Advent from the Roman Missal,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website. accessed December 1, 2015, http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/advent/commentary-on-advent-proper-prayers.cfm.
 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Seek that which is Above: Meditations through the Year (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 16.
 Ibid., 18