Stir up our hearts, O Lord,
to make ready the paths
of your Only Begotten Son,
that through his coming
we may be found worthy to serve you
with minds made pure.
Found in both the Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries and in many other manuscripts, this was the Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent in the 1570 Missal. Though moved to a different day in 1970, its text has remained unchanged.
What is the ‘coming’ (adventum) referred to in the fourth line? Presumably not the Second Coming, since no time for service will remain to us after that. Then perhaps it is Christ’s First Coming, his incarnation, which we pray will enable us to serve God in purity. Or perhaps it is the celebration of his First Coming, that is, the feasts of Christmas. Or again, perhaps it is the coming of Christ into our hearts now, in this time of preparation. Saint Bernard developed the theme of the three comings of Christ in the passage from one of his Advent sermons that occurs in the Office of Readings for Wednesday in the first week of Advent.
The Latin and the English are both ambiguous, and thus stimulate reflection.