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 Rex Gentium

“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) Of all the titles of Christ given in these antiphons, 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 – “light” and “wisdom” and other even more abstract ideas. I don’t mean by that to contrast the obvious political character of the idea ...

O Oriens

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (O Antiphon for Dec 21st) Ironic, isn’t it?, that the antiphon for the Winter Solstice calls upon Christ as the Light of Dawn, or Rising Sun, or Dayspring from On High! Like all the antiphons of this octave, it recalls an Isaiahan Messianic prophecy: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1 in NAB – 9:2 in most versions). All the bells and w...

O Clavis 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 the hope that His authority is real and actual. ...

O Radix 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 also beckons to new growth coming forth from a devastated stump – as if that which grow...

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 ...

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, Light of Dawn

“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (O Antiphon for Dec 21st) Natick, Massachusetts has been buried under a stubborn snowstorm over the past 48 hours or so, and it seems to have been a while since the light of dawn has made its presence felt. The feeling intensifies when I open my window to the world, and peer out at what is happening in my society today. Christ, as the Sun of Justice, not only judges in righteousness, but also illuminates. For the second day i...

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 ...