O Sacred Lord

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, and gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. ("O Antiphon" for Dec. 18th) I must admit: it is hard, in my circumstances, to relate meaningfully to the desire to be set free. I guess I have it pretty good. Freedom is, ostensibly at least, the fundamental principle of modern democracies. We not only don’t lack it, we could hardly get away from it if we tried. One could make a convincing argument ...

O Wisdom

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care; come and show your people the way to salvation. Today, we begin the Octave before Christmas, and  enter more intensely into the Advent season, as the final week of preparation begins for the celebration of God’s breaking into human history as a fully vested member of that history. From today until Christmas eve, the so-called “O Antiphons” are highlighted in the liturgy. These ancient acclamations are best known as the texts of the seven verses of ...

Because Being a Christian is Eternal Being and Eternal Youth

Quote of the Day for Saturday, November 27th, 2010: Hans Urs von Balthasar on Saint Francis and the transcending power of holiness over-against a stifling traditionalism, in Razing the Bastions (1952), from a translation published by Ignatius in 1993 (p.32): The true peaks rise as the distance grows; we must take care not to consider our own age as an age without salvation or saints. Everything depends on that awareness that we have of our Christianity. For Francis, to be a Christian was something just as immense, certain and startlingly glorious as to ...

Divine Manifestation and Humility: Pentecostalism and Eucharistic Hope

I was wondering, a while back, what kind of difference it might have made in my life to have encountered a perpetual Eucharistic Adoration chapel when I was a young man seeking some sort of religious grounding for my spiritual life. I’m wondering about it again as I sit before the Blessed Sacrament on another Sunday late-night. Specifically, I’m thinking about that year or so I spent huddled in my apartment, trying to piece together the shards of my shattered life in the wake of the disaster that was my twenties, and seeking a path to actualize my nasce...

O, Emmanuel

“O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” (O Antiphon for Dec 23rd) The sequence of antiphons this week culminates today in what is one of the most outrageous claims ever made. I was reading someone not too long ago who was speaking of the dangers that have historically been encountered whenever believers try to shift the focus of Christianity from the Passion/Resurrection to the Incarnation. Though the details escape me at this point, I recall it being a compelling read. But the t...

O, King of Nations

“O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” (O Antiphon for Dec 22nd) I find the notion expressed in today’s antiphon the most difficult to see my way clear to. The others all seem to allow a kind of “religious” perspective to them. I don’t mean by that to contrast the obvious political character of today’s idea against “religion” as a non-political aspect of life – nothing could be further fr...

O, Key of David

“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” (O Antiphon for Dec. 20th) The antiphon today focuses on the authority of Christ: The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens Revelation 3:7 (HCSB) No small part of a genuine faith in Christ must be in the hope that His authority is real and actua...

O, Root of Jesse

“O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” (O Antiphon for Dec. 19th) The idea of the “root of Jesse” in Scripture is an interesting one, with a meaning that seems a bit fluid. The natural meaning of “root” is, unsurprisingly, a source or foundation. But as imagery, it beckons to new growth coming forth from a devastated stump – as if that which grows from ...

O, Adonai

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, and gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. (“O Antiphon” for December 18th) I must admit: it is hard, in my circumstances, to relate meaningfully to the desire to be set free. I guess I have it pretty good. Freedom is, ostensibly at least, the fundamental principle of modern democracies. We not only don’t lack it, we could hardly get away from it. One could make, I think, a convincing argument that ...

O, Wisdom

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care; come and show your people the way to salvation. Today, we enter more intensely into the Advent season – the Octave before Christmas – as the final week of preparation begins for the celebration of God’s breaking into human history as a fully vested member of that history. The “O Antiphons” are highlighted in the liturgy now, until Christmas eve. These ancient acclamations are best known in the form they take as the verses of the venerab...

A Saint for Our Age

Today was the feast day of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, and I spent a lot of time thinking about him. When Maximilian was canonized by Pope John Paul II, the pope proclaimed him The Patron Saint of Our Difficult Century. He was a great evangelizer and defender of the faith, as well as a protector of Jews and a fierce critic of Nazism – a witness which eventually landed him in Auschwitz as a prisoner. It was there that his legend was cemented. In retribution for an attempted prisoner escape, the deputy commander of the death camp ordered ten men fr...