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“O Emmanuel …” – Reflection for 23rd December

O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver 鈥 the nations are waiting for you their Saviour. Come and save us Lord, our God.In this final 鈥極鈥 Antiphon we reach the climax when we address our Lord as Emmanuel, a name which means 鈥淕od 鈥 is 鈥 with 鈥 us鈥. In the following quotation from St. Augustine, he expresses what 鈥淕od 鈥 with 鈥 us鈥 means for us, in a way I never could:. 鈥淔or who is Christ unless that which 鈥榠n the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God鈥? This Word of God 鈥榖ecame flesh and dwelt among us鈥: for in himself he was incapable of dying for us, unless he had assumed mortal flesh from us. In this way the immortal one was able to die, in this way he wished to give life to mortals; he would later make them sharers in himself, since he had first shared in what was theirs. For of ourselves we did not have the ability to live, as of himself he did not have the ability to die. Accordingly he carried out a wonderful transaction with us through our mutual sharing: he died from what was ours, we will live from what is his.鈥漌hat joy and hope these words give us 鈥 was joy and hope ever so much needed as in our world today? We need a Saviour 鈥 the world is crying out for a Saviour whether it knows it or not. So in the words of our Antiphon we cry out with Mary who gave birth to Jesus, our Saviour: 鈥淥 Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver 鈥 the nations are waiting for you their Saviour. Come […]

By |December 23rd, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

O King – the 22nd December

O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone who makes both one.Come and save mankind whom you formed of clay.Today鈥檚 liturgy gives us two possible ways of entering into Mary鈥檚 soul. At Mass we heard her beautiful song of faith:My soul proclaims the greatness of the LordAnd my spirit exults in God my Saviour鈥 (Lk 1:46)While the O Antiphon proclaims the poverty, the emptiness, the desire and the waiting, the Magnificat manifests the fullness, fulfilment, joy and thanksgiving for salvation. The Incarnation is God鈥檚 answer to the longing of human hearts. But Augustine says: “What does it avail me that this birth is happening, if it does not happen in me?鈥濃淪o you must be silent, then God will be born in you, utter his word in you and you shall hear it; but be very sure that if you speak, the word will have to be silent. If you go out He will most surely come in; as much as you go out for him He will come in to you; – no more, no less鈥.When shall we find and know this birth of God within us?Only when we concentrate all our faculties within us and direct them all towards God. Then He will be born in us and make Himself our very own.He will give Himself to us as our own, more completely our own,  than anything we have ever called our own鈥 (John Tauler).The Kingdom of God is at hand鈥︹he Kingdom of God is within you 鈥(Lk 17:21)Be glad, find  joy there, gather together and be present to Him who dwells within, since He is so close to you. Desire Him there, adore Him there and do not go off looking […]

By |December 22nd, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Rising Sun 鈥 21st December

O Rising Sun, you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice, O come and enlighten those who sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death.Through the loving mercy of our God the Rising Sun has come to visit us.  Daily the sun rises.  All peoples everywhere, take that for granted.  Very few lie down at night wondering if the dawn will come.  In a world of few certainties and much doubt people are still confident, sure that tomorrow the sun will rise again, there will be a new day.The Word of God tells us that Christ鈥檚 coming is as certain as that dawn.  Are we in fact as certain that He is coming, as we are that in the morning the sun will rise?  Is that the kind of confident hope we give to our world 鈥 a word to cheer the hearts of all peoples and disperse the gloomy shades of night?How do we become people who are absolutely sure of Jesus and who speak about Him with authority and power 鈥 a power, a conviction that changes lives.Today鈥檚 鈥極 Antiphon鈥 five lines long, gives us I think a very profound insight and practical help as we grapple with this question.  In these short five lines, six Scripture passages are quoted.  This prayer is the fruit of someone living deeply with the Word of God and eventually perhaps even unconsciously, returning prayer to God in God鈥檚 own Words.  So deeply is his consciousness formed and transformed by God鈥檚 Word.There are so many voices in our world today all clamouring for attention.  People are being formed by the T.V., the internet, the media, advertisements, popular opinion, their own […]

By |December 21st, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

“O Key of David” – Reflection for 20th December

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 to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.Today we address Christ as 鈥淜ey鈥. We are made in the image and likeness of God, but that likeness has been marred by the effects of sin. Christ shows us a man who is the perfect image and likeness of God and so gives us an example to follow. Christ is the key that unlocks our lives and frees us from sin and death. He is the key to our salvation. When we live in Christ, when we put on 鈥渢he mind of Christ鈥 (1Cor 2:16), then we are made capable of living life as it should be lived, a life in union with God.But a key only works because of its distinctive shape. We have a tendency to make God in our own image, to ignore the hard sayings: 鈥淭ruly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you鈥 (Jn 6:53 ESV); and 鈥淔or out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.鈥 (Mt 15:19-20 ESV). How many of us pay no attention to this statement of Christ鈥檚, and, for example, slander others. But without these hard sayings the Christ that is left to us is watery and shapeless and no longer the Key of salvation. We must come to know and love the Christ of the Gospels so that he can be the Key […]

By |December 21st, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

“O Root of Jesse” – Reflection for 19th December

O Root of Jesse set up as a sign to the peoples come to save us and delay no more.This is the third 鈥極 Antiphon鈥 during this time of preparation for the Christmas celebration. Four of the seven Antiphons call upon God to 鈥榗ome and save us鈥, whilst the other three call on him to 鈥榣iberate us鈥, 鈥榯o enlighten us鈥 and 鈥榯o teach us鈥. Today we call upon God to save us and to delay no more 鈥 this theme is very prominent in all the liturgy of this season. People through the ages right up to the present day either explicitly or implicitly have called on God to save them 鈥 but the marvellous TRUTH is that our loving Father in Heaven wants it infinitely more than we could ever conceive in our finite minds and hearts. So much does he thirst for all peoples to be with him for all eternity, that he sent his only begotten Son into the world to be our Saviour and Redeemer.In the letter to the Hebrews (10:5-10) we are told: this is what Christ said coming into the world: 鈥榶ou took no pleasure in sacrifice for sin 鈥 then I said, God, here I am! I am coming to obey your Will鈥. This is the stupendous and wonderful mystery we will be celebrating in a spirit of deep inner joy in just a few days. The great love of Jesus for his Father continues, and will continue, to the end of time.The 33 years of Jesus鈥 earthly life did not suffice. As Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity has expressed it so beautifully and profoundly 鈥 鈥楩rom each of us he demands another humanity鈥 鈥 he says: […]

By |December 19th, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Adonai – 18th December

Today we address our awaited Saviour as 鈥淎donai and Leader who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai鈥 as we implore him to 鈥渃ome and save us with outstretched arm.鈥漌hen God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, Moses was not seeking God 鈥 he was just going about his daily business, looking after the flock 鈥 it was God who took the initiative and broke into Moses鈥 life 鈥 and not just for Moses鈥 sake but for the sake of the Israelite people who were held in the bondage of slavery in Egypt: 鈥淚 have seen the misery of my people in Egypt 鈥 am well aware of their sufferings and I have come down to rescue them and bring them out from the clutches of Egypt to a country rich and broad.鈥 (cf Ex 3: 7-8)It is this same God who takes the initiative with Mary and Joseph 鈥 He announces to Joseph in a dream that the child whom Mary is carrying is the Saviour and is to be called 鈥楯esus鈥 because he will save his people from their sins鈥   He is 鈥淓mmanuel鈥 God-with-us 鈥 our Saviour whom we await and to whom we cry out in the words of the Roman Missal, pleading with Him to come and deliver us from the bondage of our sin: 鈥淕rant, we pray, Almighty God that we who are weighed down from of old by slavery beneath the yoke of sin  may be set free by the newness of the long-awaited birth of your only begotten Son.鈥漌e have only to look into our own hearts and in the world around us to realise how much we are […]

By |December 18th, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

“O Wisdom” – Reflection for 17th December

It was Kipling who spoke of 鈥渨aiting and not being tired by waiting鈥.The season of Advent is all about WAITING. We wait in expectant hope and prayer all through Advent. But in the final seven or eight days of the season this ardent desire and longing is intensified and deepened as we draw nearer the liturgical celebration of the Birth of Christ.Yesterday, we began our nine-day novena for the great feast of the Birth of Christ and for the next seven days, beginning today, we accentuate that longing which finds its expression most beautifully in the great Vespers antiphons for the Magnificat, called the 鈥淥鈥 Antiphons, because they all begin with 鈥淥鈥. These antiphons will be used each evening before and after the Magnificat, and as the Gospel acclamation at Mass. Repetition helps us keep the antiphon in mind so that we can reflect on it and let it keep reverberating in our hearts.In a few moments now, we will sing the first 鈥淥鈥 antiphon in Latin. 鈥淥 Sapientia鈥 which translated meansO WisdomYou come forth from the mouth of the Most High,you fill the universe and hold all things togetherin a strong yet gentle manner,O come to teach us the way of truth.It is an antiphon almost self explanatory.O Wisdom which comes out from the mouth of the most High 鈥.The Wisdom book of the Old testament contains many, many passages in praise of Wisdom : Wisdom proceeding from God,鈥.. as being begotten by Him, 鈥. as the breath of His power. Wisdom is the beloved daughter who, at the beginning of creation, stood before God, assisting in the creation of the visible universe. From the concept of Wisdom there later developed the doctrine […]

By |December 17th, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

Reflection on the Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

One cannot miss the sheer explosion of joy in today鈥檚 liturgy especially in the first and second Mass Readings. 鈥楽hout for joy daughter of Sion, Rejoice exult with all your heart. The Lord your God is in your midst – he will exult for joy over you. He will renew you by his love鈥. Zeph.3 This is the real Good News, coming at a timely moment when dark clouds are hovering over our country. 鈥楨ven though the rain hides the stars, Even though the mist swirls the hills, Even when clouds veil the sky God is by my side鈥. (The Cloud鈥檚 Veil 鈥 Liam Lawton) Yes, indeed, not just our poets but the Word of God tells us 鈥榝ear not little flock, you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows, it has pleased my Father to give you the Kingdom鈥 Lk.12 And the wonder is that through the grace of Baptism, we have him not 鈥榡ust in our midst鈥 but actually dwelling within us. Jesus pleads with us 鈥榤ake your home in me as I make mine in you鈥. Jn.15 This abiding in Jesus is a cry from the depths of his heart because he knows that this abiding is the source of everything. It is a call to enter into the innermost life of the Trinity 鈥 into the 鈥榦cean of peace鈥 as St. Catherine called him, where nothing can disturb us, nothing frighten us, no one can rob us of our joy. 鈥淲e can please him best of all by wisely and truly believing this truth of our relationship with him and rejoicing with him and in him. For as truly as we shall be in the bliss of God without end […]

By |December 16th, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

2nd Sunday of Advent

 鈥淭he Lord has done great things for usWe are filled with joy鈥 (Psalm 125)By directing our attention away from ourselves to focus instead on what God has done and is doing in the Church and in each of our lives, today鈥檚 Mass readings provide a wonderful message of hope: It is the Holy One who 鈥榬emembers鈥 us and comes to us in the wilderness of our lives and  makes us 鈥榡ubilant鈥 as He came of old to the Israelites in their exile and as he came to John in the wilderness.  So it is in the wilderness of our lives – with it pain and heart break, its anxieties and preoccupations – that we hear the Word of the Lord inviting us to repent of our sinful and all too human outlook and to prepare  a way for His coming.   In the first reading the prophet Baruch invites us to take off the 鈥渄ress of sorrow and distress鈥 鈥 whatever enslaves us –  and 鈥減ut on the beauty of the glory of God and to wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around us.鈥  For us Christians we know that the ‘cloak of integrity’ is nothing other than our being 鈥渋n Christ鈥 through our Baptism. In Christ Jesus we are all 鈥渟ons of God through faith – when we were baptised we were clothed with Christ鈥 (Gal 3:26,27) who has become 鈥渙ur wisdom, our virtue, our holiness and our freedom鈥 (1Cor 1:30).  Each of us can say 鈥渋t is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.鈥(Gal 2:10).  In the second reading St Paul suggests that it is our mutual love for each other which helps us become 鈥減ure and blameless for […]

By |December 9th, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

First Sunday of Advent

鈥榃atch yourselves or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life and that day will spring on you like a trap.鈥橪k 21:34Debauchery drunkenness and the cares of life- all placed together in one sentence by Jesus, all presented to us by him as being equally destructive, coarsening our hearts and preventing us from being aware of, and ready for, his coming, his many comings through out each day and consequently unprepared for his final coming. There we have it—the cares of life are placed right alongside drunkenness and debauchery —and with no escaping it as it comes straight from our Lord鈥檚 own lips. Do we really take this seriously enough or have our hearts indeed become coarsened, dulled and insensitive to the delicacy of our loved One鈥檚 touch so that we are no longer even conscious of the subtle movements of grace, the voice of the spirit calling us gently to deeper union and greater self giving. It is so easy to become comfortable with my selfishness, to allow my petty self concern pass unnoticed, to be untroubled by the negative movements of my own spirit- nothing as glaringly obvious as drunkenness and debauchery- but perhaps more insidious and dangerous because more easily overlooked or excused.What are the cares of life? Are they not the thoughts and actions that draw our hearts away from Jesus? What preoccupies me? What thoughts are running round in my head when I stop and become aware of myself? In the past hour where have I been? Where does my mind go when it is not occupied with the task in hand?  Is even the task in hand perhaps a care of life?. […]

By |December 2nd, 2012|Liturgy|1 Comment