SIR, -If it seems a little strange to recur to the season of Advent through which we have passed, I do so to comment upon the letter by Fr. Arthur Valentin who argues, rightly enough. that the season is not penitential.
That such a season may not be penitential-at least in the sense that Lent is-may he conceded without admitting that it is festive. It ought to be mentioned. I think, in passing that the continuation of the Alleluias in Advent but not in Lent may he misleading since eastern Catholics and Of tbodox sing Alleluias even on Good Friday.
The Advent season, so 1, at least, tend to look on it. has to do rather more with the second than with the first coming. So far as we consider the, first. we do so in order to consider the second, Andi this consideration. if it does not conduce to 'penance", does conittiee to what I would call dread. "Always when I think on the I.ast Day my body quaketh for fear." Again and again in old sermons comes the text from St. Bernard.
But this "dread" may easily be mistaken for fear. It is rather the sense of the mysterious and holy God Christmas, as we celebrate it in thc.West. is perhaps a way of trying to humanise and even. if it were possible. to take the mystery out of the Incarnation. But this is. however pardonable, not altogether satisfactory If we were to take the feast of the Nativity and move along. so to speak, through the Epiphany (the coming of the Magi) to what the Easterns with good reason call the Epiphany. the public baptism of Our Lord. and to the Transfiguration, we should begin to see the deeper meaning of the Incarnation which sanctified water and earth and which began the ' Great Return to God.
Henry Edwards 220 Rhys Street. Trealaw, Rhondda.
qIR,-II feel I should send a reply to Fr. Valentine as I have been preaching penance during the Holy Season of Advent and should not like to think that I had led the sheep astray.
On the last three Sundays of Advent our Holy Mother the Church takes us in the Gospel into the wilderness with John the I3aptist, that austere figure. There we hear his booming voice preaching penance for the remission of sins in order to prepare the way of the Lord At Matins on the first, third and fourth Sundays of Advent, the lessons of the second Nocturn are taken from St. Leo's sermons on fasting and almsgiving.
It seems to me that at the present time the liturgy of the Roman rite for Advent is an admixture of penance and joy
(Fr.) C. S.