Saturday, December 17, 2011

O, the heavenly Rhythm of the Liturgy

On December 17th, the Church’s Advent liturgy begins to focus in a more particular way on the Nativity of the Lord.  The prayers, readings, preface at Mass, as well as the readings, antiphons for the Gospel canticles, intercessions, and prayers at the Liturgy of the Hours concentrate more resolutely than during the preceding days of Advent on the coming feast of the Nativity of the Lord. Our attention is fixed on the messianic promises proclaimed by the ancient prophets of Israel. 

The seven great “O Antiphons” have a particular role in these days. Each antiphon, always sung in a very similar melody,begins with 'O' and addresses Christ with a unique title from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah.  Each is followed by a petition for God's people relevant to the title by which He is addressed, and the cry for Jesus to COME to us (veni) and act on our behalf:   

·                     December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
·                     December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
·                     December 19: O Radix Iesse (O Root of Jesse)
·                     December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
·                     December 21: O Oriens (O Daystar) (after this date, days get longer)
·                     December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
·                     December 23: O Emmanuel (O God-with-Us)
When taken together from the last title to the first,
the first letters of each title form a wonderful Latin acrostic:
This is the Lord’s response
to the Church’s ardent petition that He COME (veni):
Ero cras (I will be there tomorrow)!

 The “O Antiphons” not only bring holy intensity to our Advent
preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.

 NOTE:  Some have used the O Antiphons as the basis of a rich Novena
up to and including Christmas Day.
Perhaps this "last lap" of Advent could also include
daily Mass and/or daily Adoration.
O come, O come, Emmanuel!
The song "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is simply a reworking of the O Antiphons. When you sing it, you are joining a vast throng of Christians stretching back across centuries and spanning the whole of the earth who prayed as all Christians do, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20)


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