Rorate Caeli

The First Sunday of Advent: "God alone can be our ideal, our goal"

On this First Sunday of Advent, let us join our prayers to those of all our forefathers in the Latin rites of the Church who have gone before us, praying in the Introit of the Mass: "To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul."

Ad te, Domine, levavi animam meam:
Deus meus, in te confido; non erubescam.
Neque irrideant me inimici mei : etenim universi qui sustinent te, non confundentur. 
V. Vias tuas, Domine, demonstra mihi: et semitas tuas edoce me.

To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul:
My God, in Thee I trust: let me not be put to shame.
Nor let my enemies laugh over me: for indeed, all who rely on Thee shall not be confounded.
V. Thy ways, O Lord, show unto me: and teach me Thy paths.

Here is what Dom Johner, in his masterful The Chants of the Vatican Gradual (pp. 13-14), has to say about the atmosphere of this stirring Introit:

"Lift up (levate) your heads, because your redemption is at hand." Thus the Lord consoles us in the Gospel for today, which, in the main, is intensely serious. He wishes to come as our Redeemer on Christmas night, and for this the Advent season, now beginning, is to prepare us. He wants to free our soul from the foes that press it from every side, from enemies who think they can already rejoice at our defeat. Although we may often have looked up (levavi) to some vain thing, considering its attainment our life's ambition, there has always come a time when we realized the nothingness of it all, realized that God alone can be our ideal, our goal. Only when we take cognizance of His ways (vias tuas, Domine) and walk accordingly, can we find true happiness. God alone can guard the beauty and nobility of our soul against its every enemy. At the beginning of the liturgical year our soul strives, therefore, to elevate itself, definitely and decisively, to Him who by His incarnation becomes its God (Deus meus) and who wishes to be intimately united with it in Holy Communion. For this reason Deus meus sounds almost jubilant. For this reason, too, strong accents are placed over in te confido; and non erubescam and neque irrdieant sound more like a song of victory than a suppliant petition.

"Lift up your heads, for your redemption is at hand." Some time it will come, the perfected redemption, when the Son of Man will come in the clouds of heaven "with great power and majesty." Then all the world will see that no one who trusts in God is ever confounded. Then those who put their faith in men will stand abashed. Then the longing of all those (universi) who were turned toward God will be fulfilled and all the desires (exspectant) of the human heart will find their complete satisfaction in God.