What’s in That Prayer? The Collect for the First Sunday of Advent

Here is the oration that the Church prays in the Mass and Office for the First Sunday of Advent:

Excita, quǽsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni: ut ab imminéntibus peccatórum nostrórum perículis, te mereámur protegénte éripi, te liberánte salvári.

Here is my translation:

Arouse, O Lord, we ask Thee, Thy power, and come: that, by Thy protection, we may obtain to be delivered from the threatening dangers of our transgressions, and, Thou having set us free, we may finally be saved.

Here is the translation from the Divinum Officium site:

Stir up, O Lord, we pray thee, thy strength, and come among us, that whereas through our sins and wickedness we do justly apprehend thy wrathful judgments hanging over us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us.

I confess that this is a very difficult prayer to translate (at least for me), with two tricky back-to-back ablative absolutes in it.

In the oration, Jesus is being addressed directly as the One who will deliver us from the threatening dangers of our sins and save us. The idea is simple, straightforward, and beautiful.

This Sunday, the first of the new liturgical year, begins our Advent season of expectation for Jesus. That expectation is two-fold. We prepare for our Lord’s first coming, which is liturgically renewed each year at Christmas. We also prepare for our Lord’s second coming at the end of time, which explains why Our Lord’s return in judgment is the subject of today’s Gospel. The remaining Sundays will have St. John the Precursor calling us to penance.

Advent is the time for us to get our spiritual house in order, so that we are prepared to meet God in the Flesh. This beautiful oration helps us to understand what needs to be gotten in order and Who it is that will help us to do so.