O Antiphons

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 22nd of December

O King whom all the peoples desire
You are the cornerstone which makes all one.
O come and save us whom you made from clay.
 

What is my desire? Do I really have desire for this King, as today’s ‘O Antiphon’ proclaimed?

‘O King whom all the peoples desire’

The desire for God is part of what we are.

Christmas time offers for us a lot of wishes… But as soon as we open the gifts there will be a inevitable sense of disappointment. ‘Is that it?’ the small child asks when all the presents have been unwrapped. The desire remains even if you get what you asked for, and especially, if you get what you asked for! The longing is unsatisfied…

Much later the child learned the lesson of Augustine and come to know that there is a space inside us that nothing but the uncontained God can fill.

I remember when in my 16th year I spend a night at the Disco, and next morning was not able to get up for Sunday Mass, later on my confessor asked me “Do you know why you spent all night at Disco?’I say: ’No, I really do not know why.’ He answered:’ Because GOD LOVES YOU SO MUCH! You have in your heart a big desire for Him. You spent a whole night to feed your desire for God, but only God can do it.”

It was a revelation for me, it change a lot in my life. I do not mean that I stopped to dance. No, my relation with God went deeper and I started to dance with Him, as at last Sunday we heard from  Zephaniah 3.14-18:’He will dance with shouts of joy for you’. God is still dancing!

‘Man can […]

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 21st of December

On this the shortest day of the year it is appropriate that our ‘O Antiphon’ has the theme of light bringing us hope that darkness can never overpower Eternal Light.

 

Recently while reading an article in the National Geographic on ‘Solar Sailing in Space’- which I did not fully understand! – one sentence caught my attention: scientists in the last century have discovered that “light is pure energy – that property in nature that makes things go, run or happen.” These four words ‘light is pure energy’ seemed to jump out of the page and immediately all the references to light in relation to God in the Old and New Testaments flooded my mind.  Light is pure energy!  What a wonderful image of God! And how appropriate! Is it possible to describe light?  – yet we live and move and have our being in the light.

What scientists are now discovering about the energy of light, the Prophet Habakuk recognised many centuries earlier when he wrote:  “His brilliance is like the light – Rays flash from his hands – There his power is hidden.” (Hab 3:4)   The author of the Book of Wisdom describes Wisdom as being “quicker to move than any motion – she is so pure she pervades and permeates all things – she is a breath of the power of God….  a reflection of the eternal light, untarnished mirror of God’s active power and image of his goodness.” (Wis 7:24,26). Perhaps the author of the Book of Genesis did not get his facts wrong when he says that God created Light on the first Day of creation – before the sun, moon and stars.

St John in the Prologue to his Gospel, referring to […]

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 20th of December

O come now Key of David, come, and open wide our heavenly home,
Make safe the way that leads on high and close the path to misery.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you O Israel.
 

As today, we pray in our ‘O Antiphon’ – ‘O key of David, come and close the path to misery’ or as another translation expresses it: ‘come and lead the captive free from prison, free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death’ – we reflect  that a key both opens and locks a door.  What is it that keeps our hearts and lives imprisoned and locked up?  What door needs to be opened to free us to live peacefully and trustfully in the Presence of God in the midst of the  daily upsets that can occur and all the noise and turmoil of today’s world?   Very often it is FEAR in one of its many forms that keeps our hearts and indeed our whole being tightly locked up – it can be some form of insecurity or a lack of confidence in ourselves; some deep hurt from the past that we hold onto that imprisons us; or some deep inner pain from a past experience such as bullying by another; it can be envy or selfishness or pride – the list is endless.

 

In praying this Antiphon with total trust, we are calling on Christ, the Key of David, to help us become pre-occupied with him and thus to win the victory over whatever it is that imprisons us, and keeps us tightly locked up, because as the Prophet told us long ago – ‘the Virgin is with Child and he will be called Emmanuel – a name […]

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 18th of December

O Adonai and leader of Israel,
You appeared to Moses in a burning bush
and You gave him the Law on Sinai.
O come,
and save us with Your mighty power.
(with arm outstretched to save)
 
What do you want from Christmas?
 

These last days of Advent seem to intend to teach us what to ask of the LORD – maybe in order that we may truly know and understand how to be human; and above all, that our humanity is meant to be one which seeks to serve.

 

“… the Son of man came not to serve, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” ( Mk 10:45)

 

What desire in my soul at the moment of my encounter with the

Infant Saviour of the world – with God –

is awakened?

What do I want from Christmas?

 

Yesterday, we called upon the LORD who is Wisdom.

This evening we call upon Him as LORD and Leader: that with His arms outstretched, He might save us.  With the gift of wisdom we have received, we are enabled by His grace to recognise the qualities of leadership that Jesus possessed.  As members of His body through our baptism; as co-heirs with Him and destined to have a share in His divine life and in the eternal embrace of the Blessed Trinity, we should dare to claim His wisdom for ourselves: to allow ourselves to be guided and led by it; and by virtue of this gift, we should dare to own the kind leadership by which JESUS drew people into the truth.

 

When He appeared to Moses, in the midst of a burning bush which was not consumed by the flames of fire, the LORD taught Moses who he was and what great dignity […]

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 17th of December

“O Wisdom,

You come forth from the mouth of the Most High.

You fill the universe

and hold all things together

in a strong yet gentle manner.

O come to teach us the way of truth.”

 

Today we will sing the first of the ‘O Antiphons’; the beautiful Magnificat Antiphons for the final days of preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas. These Antiphons address Christ by various titles/attributes and beseech him to ‘Come’.

 

This first Antiphon addresses Christ as ‘Wisdom’. It is a wonderful thing to recognise that Christ is Wisdom and to remember that “the wisdom which comes from above is marked chiefly indeed by its purity, but also by its peacefulness; it is courteous and ready to be convinced, always taking the better part; it carries mercy with it, and a harvest of all that is good; it is uncensorious and without affectation” (Jas 3:17-18).

 

Our world desperately needs such wisdom; not intelligence, or cleverness, or great knowledge about many things, but wisdom – the ability to know and recognise God’s purpose and plan (both for ourselves and for the rest of creation) and to act in accord with that. In other words, the ability to recognise and do what is right. This might seem too difficult and demanding, until we remember that, by the grace of Baptism we have become members of Christ and Christ is, therefore, “our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1Cor 1:30).

 

O Rising Sun – 21st December 2016

O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of Eternal Light and the Sun of Justice.O Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness; those who dwell in the shadow of death, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, come.As I read this very beautiful O Antiphon, a memory comes to mind of long summer evenings spent in the high field – the moinin ard as we called it – sitting under a haystack just watching the breathtaking sight of the sun going down beyond the woods and bog lands of our farm in the West.The silence was full, deep and quiet, except for the little birds on their way home to roost and the friendly crickets close by.  But as the last lights faded what a mystery it was to my child’s mind! Where, oh where had the sun gone?!No grown up’s explanations prepared me for what was always a fresh experience of another rising sun as it streamed through the trees – right into my room the next morning.  The chorus of birds as they flew again to the cornfields and the grass glittering with dew drops and diamonds to me.  Even then this scene had power to thrill me with anticipation of something I knew not what! – was it a foretaste of another Rising Sun still unknown to me?What or who is this ‘Splendour of Eternal Light’ coming to enlighten those of us who sit in darkness – lost in our own little worlds?  It is the Lord Himself, majestic and glorious “wrapped in light as in a robe.”Come then my Lord, my God, teach me where and how to find you – you who dwell in light inaccessible and I desire to come […]

O Key of David – 20th December 2016

O Key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again, what you close no one can open, O come and lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.This ‘O Antiphon’ that the Church sings this evening at the Magnificat, has its roots like all the other Antiphons in sacred scripture, in this case in Isaiah chapter 22 and in Luke chapter I.Our Lord is addressed as Key of David – Jesus is Son of David through his foster father, St Joseph, who was of the house of David.  David was the most beloved and important King in Israel’s history – “a man after the Lord’s own heart” as it says in the Acts of the Apostles.  So Jesus in his human ancestry is truly one of us as he is truly Son of God in his divine nature “conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the Holy spirit. (Mt Ch 1)A key is an indispensable instrument for opening and closing a door, so it is a very appropriate symbol with which to address our awaited Saviour. The Babe of Bethlehem, whom we await, did not die because he was born but He was born in order to die – the Crib and the Cross are closely associated.  By His obedience in suffering His Passion, death and Resurrection, Jesus opened the gates of heaven for the whole human race which our first parents had closed by their disobedience.  There is a lovely Icon called ‘the harrowing of hell’ where Jesus on Holy Saturday is seen in His descent into hell and taking  both Adam and Eve by […]

The Great ‘O Antiphons – O Wisdom – 17th Dec

O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High.  You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner.  O come to teach us the way of truth.We are immediately reminded of the wonderful passages in the Old Testament which speak of Wisdom.  There we read of Wisdom as proceeding from God, as being begotten by Him, as being the beloved who at the beginning stood beside Him, assisting at the creation – ‘ever at play in His presence and delighting to be with the children of men.’These passages concerning Wisdom can be applied to the Word who in the fullness of time took on our human nature and pitched his tent among us.While in the Old Testament God’s Wisdom was manifested by His governance of the created universe in a strong yet gentle manner, being lenient and merciful to all because He loves all that exists – it is in the crucified Christ on the Cross that we experience the full revelation of divine Wisdom, of God’s infinite love and mercy for us human beings.  As St Paul tells us “God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.  In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and of his fullness we have all received.  He has become our wisdom and our holiness.” (1 Corinthians)O Eternal wisdom come and teach us the way of truth – He is Truth itself who leads us to all Truth – the truth about ourselves, about our world, about situations in which we find ourselves.In spite of whatever pain and contradictions we experience in our own lives and in our […]

O Rex Gentium – 22nd December 2015

 “O King and treasure of the nations,the cornerstone that makes the two into one;Come and save man whom you fashioned from dust.” We heard this morning from the Prophet Isaiah (during the Office of Readings) the following:Thus says the LORD God:“Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.Kings shall be your foster-fathers and their queens your nursing mothers.With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet.Then you will know that I am the LORD: those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”(Is 49:22-23)It is difficult – never having shaken hands with one – to know what qualities one might expect a king to have – so that he might be approachable and command a certain allegiance and loyalty.  Kindness, perhaps? … and Knowledge?  Insight, maybe also Inspiration; Nobility; Graciousness.We all come into the world in the same way, whether we be high or low; kings or paupers – and in only a very short while now, we will celebrate the great day of JESUS’ birth, and it won’t be immediately obvious what He is – a king or a pauper?  Or both?Do we have eyes to see? Our “O” antiphon this evening speaks of JESUS as “the cornerstone that makes the two into one,” and it was these particular words “makes the two into one” which made the more perplexing impression: what two? … and two what?As with many of the “O” antiphons, it is very possible to give free reign […]

“O Rising Sun – 21st December 2015

“O Rising sun, You are the splendor of eternal light, and the sun of justice.O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness, those who dwell in the shadow of death.Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, come”                What can be a better metaphor or image to depict the reality of salvation given by God to human beings than light and darkness? Even without going deep into the metaphysics of light by Grosseteste, Or the reflections on light by St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure or other theologians and philosophers, or without further specific analysis of light as knowledge, truth, goodness, life, etc., we immediately grasp the meaning of this text. We are very familiar with the word and image of “light” throughout Old Testament and New Testament and numerous sacred religious arts to describe the saving power and act of God from our death, sin, and suffering.  You are probably familiar with the famous painting of Caravaggio “the calling of St Matthew”. The beam of light from Jesus shone towards Matthew who was sitting at the table in the darkness when Jesus called him.  How about “The Light of the World” by William Holman Hunt? In this painting, Jesus is holding a lamp in one of his hands and knocks on the door with the other hand, but interestingly there is no doorknob on the door, which means that the door can be opened only by the person inside the door.  I interpret that the light, grace, and redemption are brought by Jesus Christi in person, but still our cooperation is necessary to receive them.   During fall last year, about 18 secondary-school girls visited the monastery and had a conversation with the novitiate about Catholicism and our contemplative life. […]