O Antiphons

O Emmanuel – God is with us – 23rd December 2013

  An extract from the writings of Benedict XVI.‘At the heart of this mystery is the paradox that the glorious God decided to manifest Himself in the helplessness of a child who is overlooked by adult society and comes to the world in a stable.The powerlessness of a child has become the proper expression of God’s all subduing power, for the only force He employs is the silent force of truth and love.  It was in the defenceless weakness of a child that God wanted us to have our first encounter with saving mercy.  How comforting it is to see the peaceful tranquillity of God and thus to experience the security emanating from a power that in the end will be stronger than any other force and will outlast the loud triumphal cries of the world’.Our mother, Mary, in her generous and humble response to God’s invitation to participate in this  mystery of the Incarnation teaches us ‘that only with Christ has authentic joy made its appearance and the only thing of ultimate importance in our lives is to learn to see and know Christ, the God of grace, the light and joy of the world’.In Him do our hearts find joyWe trust in His Holy Name – God is with us.

By |December 24th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Rex Gentium – 22nd December 2013

 O King whom all the people desire,You are the cornerstonewhich makes all one:O come,and save us whom you made from clay. How do you approach a King? In our way of thinking, kings inspire awe and wonder, surrounded as they are by wealth; lacking nothing; held to be gracious when they condescend to smile at us or speak to us; so far out of reach and outside our reality as to be unapproachable, untouchable, altogether alien from the little moments that fill our days and shape our lives.  Kings have need of nothing because they have more than one … or two … or three of everything: cars, planes, palaces, lands. … Today, as we draw nearer to that day of Incarnation, without which there could never have been a Resurrection – we are reminded that Jesus is our King, our Desire, our Cornerstone, our Unity – making out of such an array of diversity, one-ness; and we call on Him who formed us from the dust of the earth, to save us. How do you approach a King? Who can tell me how to draw near to my King: He whom I desire?Who can reassure me that my littleness and worthlessness: all my sins and failings – all those moments that cast shadow rather than radiate light – who will convince me that these are not obstacles which make my desire unattainable? He will. In the people He sets before us – Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary – He shows me that poverty and littleness are in fact helps, because if I know […]

By |December 22nd, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Rising Sun – 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 darkness and in the shadow of death.”In today’s antiphon we greet Christ as the “Rising Sun” and “sun of justice”; the one who comes to guide and enlighten us. This links in with Malachi’s prophecy “for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings” (Mal 4:2). This message that Christ is the one who enlightens and heals us is particularly important in the darkness of the world today – a world of seemingly unending violence and war, a world where many people can see no way out of financial problems, sickness or addictions.  In response to this Jesus himself gives us a message of hope: “I have come as light into the world that whoever believes in me will not remain in darkness” (Jn 12:46). It is not that Jesus promises to get rid of all the difficulties and hardships, but he is with us to give us the light and strength we need to walk through them and not stumble or have our way blocked in darkness.

By |December 21st, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Key of David – 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 our awaited Messiah as ‘Key of David’ and our antiphon paints a graphic picture of Him as a leader who unlocks prisons and leads the captives to freedom.  Our first thoughts may turn to all those who are in prisons throughout our world; those who are slaves to addictions and violence; to those areas where there is war and unjust governments – the list is endless.While keeping all these in mind I was drawn to reflect on the meaning of true freedom and what it means for each of us in our daily lives.  Freedom is a theme which is dear to human beings from the beginning and which we find woven into the pages of both Old and New Testaments. Israel was formed as a people when Moses led a group of nomadic slaves through the desert towards the promised land of freedom – a symbol of our Baptism where Jesus our true leader leads us from the darkness of sin to the liberty of the children of God as St Paul reminds us: “He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his Beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13–14).    Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in search of liberation, always in search of inner balance and unity.  Unfortunately we seek it in the wrong places and our […]

By |December 20th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

19th December – O Root of Jesse

O Radix Jesse, O Root of Jesse. ‘There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse’. On the 17th we heard  ‘O Wisdom ,you came forth from the mouth of the Most High’. That we can all readily believe, that is right and fitting. But that this Word of God should take flesh in Mary, should actually be of our stock, be of the stock of Jesse that is what the Church calls on us to reflect about today. Yes, Eternal Wisdom proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, but he proceeds also from the bodies of several generations of human beings. He becomes like us in every way except He is without sin. And lest we be tempted to forget that, even on Christmas Night His ancestry is recalled. Many find the solemn singing of the Genealogy tedious and boring but it contains a message of great hope for us, great reassurance, great comfort. Jesus is not afraid or ashamed of his past. No one need be omitted from it ,even those men and women whose lives were somewhat unsavoury if not down right evil, they all went into the forming of his flesh and because of that it is possible for them to partake in His Divinity. In His body He was put to death and through that body He opens up the way to life for us. If He was prepared to come into a world like that , then we can be confident that He is prepared to come to our world, our hearts, with all their accumulated weight of sin. We can be confident that He will […]

By |December 19th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Adonai – 18th December 2013

 O Adonai and Leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bushand you gave him the Law on Sinai.O come and save us with your mighty power. “The mystery of the Incarnation and the sheer wonder of the Christian proclamation of truth is that Christ shares His experience with each one of us. And he actively invites each one of us to enter into His own experience of the Father..  He invites us not just to make some sort of intellectual assent. he invites us to share, to share with his experience in all its fullness, to share and to be carried away by the infinite thrust of his energy, as He knows the Father and loves the Father, and as He, in his turn, is known and loved infinitely.And this is what we are all called to” – (The Way of Unknowing by  John Main)   We are invited  to enter the eternal moment of God’s self-communication in Jesus.“O Adonai” is the Hebrew word for “Lord”.  God has a personal name in the Bible, but it was considered too holy for normal use, so when the Reader at public worship in the Synagogue found the holy name in the text, he read the word ‘Adonai’ or ‘Lord’ instead. God’s appearance to Moses in the burning bush is associated with the sacred name indicated by  “Adonai” and God’s self description as “I AM WHO I AM”.  The names “Lord” and “I am” indicate that God is both known to us and is  beyond our knowledge.  He gives us his name,  yet this name directs our attention to God as he is in himself, rather than any ideas we may have of him.The burning bush is […]

By |December 18th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

O Antiphons – Advent 2013

From the 17th to the 23rd December each evening at Vespers we sing the great ‘O Antiphons’ before and after the Magnificat.  We would like to share with readers of this blog the various reflections on these antiphons prepared by sisters:17th December            O Sapientia   –  O Wisdom  O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter,suaviterque disponens Omnia:veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.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 prudence.The liturgical texts from today invite me to thank God for His wonderful deeds, for the creation of the world and for the whole history of redemption, which is penetrated with His Wisdom.St Matthew in the Gospel shows us a long and complicated genealogy with many people, men and women.  Each name hides a life story.  At the conclusion of it is the birth of Jesus.I sometimes ask, like St John the Baptist, when I am surrounded be shadow and darkness; unanswered questions; by situations without solutions:Does God know about me?Are you the Messiah?Are you the One who is to come or are we to expect someone else?  (Mt 11:3)I cannot see the miracles that are happening.  But Jesus tells me: ‘The blind see again and the lame walk …’ It is the time of salvation.The Church teaches:  God guides the world and my life in a mysterious way.  He guides everything along paths that only He knows, leading it to its […]

By |December 17th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

“O Emmanuel …” – Reflection for 23rd December

O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver – the nations are waiting for you their Saviour. Come and save us Lord, our God.In this final ‘O’ Antiphon we reach the climax when we address our Lord as Emmanuel, a name which means “God – is – with – us”. In the following quotation from St. Augustine, he expresses what “God – with – us” means for us, in a way I never could:. “For who is Christ unless that which ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’? This Word of God ‘became flesh and dwelt among us’: 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.”What joy and hope these words give us – was joy and hope ever so much needed as in our world today? We need a Saviour – 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: “O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver – 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’s liturgy gives us two possible ways of entering into Mary’s 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” (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’s 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?”“So 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….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” (John Tauler).The Kingdom of God is at hand……The Kingdom of God is within you …(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 – 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’s 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 – 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 – a power, a conviction that changes lives.Today’s ‘O Antiphon’ 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’s own Words.  So deeply is his consciousness formed and transformed by God’s 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