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Ancient Antiphons for a New Year

Speaking about God and speaking with God must always go together.

The liturgy is not a secondary theme next to the preaching about the living God,

but the realization of our relationship with God’ (p. Benedict XVI)

The different times in the year- ordinary time, Advent, Christmas, Lent and Ester- should feel different, different melodies, different colours, as different as the spring is from the summer, and summer from the autumn. Often the modern liturgy does not communicate this.

In our 2019 Calendar we share with you some images of a beautifully illuminated antiphonary from our archives, which was used for Vespers of the Major Feasts through the year, until the liturgy changed after Vatican II. The work of illustration was accomplished by the sisters over many years and completed in 1910.

Liturgical celebration is a constant thread running through our days so that we might be woven in our ‘consecration to the truth, which is the Word’.

The liturgical celebration of the Hours, repeated several times a day in community, must be a time when the Word of God, and not ourselves, comes to be our centre. It is when we allow the Word to seize us, to take hold of our desire to give our life and enable this desire to do far more that we could ever do ourselves. This celebration repeated each day and in each liturgical Hour gives us the courage to expose ourselves to the Word; to listen to the words of Scripture and the prayers of the tradition; to become accustomed to the familiarity that the Word wants to have with us; to discern through the words of Scripture the face of the Son that is revealed and who is the […]

A Reflection for Week 4 of Advent

With the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Lord’s Birth is at hand. With the words of the prophet Micah, the Liturgy invites us to look at Bethlehem, the little town in Judea that witnessed the great event. Unfortunately, in our day, it does not represent an attained and stable peace, but rather a peace sought with effort and hope. Yet God is never resigned to this state of affairs, so that this year too, in Bethlehem and throughout the world, the mystery of Christmas will be renewed in the Church. Today, as in the times of Jesus, Christmas is not a fairy-tale for children but God’s response to the drama of humanity in search of true peace.
                                                                                 (Pope Benedict XVI)

By |December 23rd, 2018|Advent|0 Comments

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).

 

A Reflection for Week 3 of Advent

The first Reading of Mass is the invitation to joy. The prophet Zephaniah at the end of the seventh century B.C spoke of the city of Jerusalem and its people with the words: ‘’Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem…..! The Lord your God is in your midst.’’ As in the times of the Prophet Zephaniah, it is particularly to those being tested and to ‘’Life’s wounded and orphans of joy’’ that God’s Word is being addressed in a special way. To transform the world, God chose a humble young girl from a village in Galilee, Mary of Nazareth, and challenged her with this greeting: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.’’ In these words lies the secret of an authentic Christmas. God repeats them to the Church, to each of us: Rejoice, the Lord is close!
( Pope Benedict XVI)

By |December 16th, 2018|Advent|0 Comments

A Reflection for Week 2 of Advent

On this Sunday the liturgy presents to us the Gospel passage in which St. Luke prepares the scene on which Jesus is about to enter and begin His public ministry. The Evangelist focuses the spotlight on to John the Baptist, who was the precursor of the Messiah, and with great precision outlines the space-time coordinates of his preaching. The Evangelist evidently wanted to warn those who read or hear about it that the Gospel is not a legend but the account of a true story, that Jesus of Nazareth is a historical figure who fits into that precise context. After this ample historical introduction, the subject becomes ‘’the word of God’’, presented as a power that comes down from Heaven and settles upon John the Baptist.
                                                                                    ( Pope Benedict XVI)

By |December 9th, 2018|Advent|0 Comments

A Reflection for Week 1 of Advent

In Advent, the liturgy frequently repeats and assures us, as if to overcome our natural diffidence, that God ‘’comes’’: He comes to be with us in every situation of ours, He comes to dwell among us, to live with us and within us; He comes to fill the gaps that divide and separate us; He comes to reconcile us with Him and with one another. He comes into human history to knock at the door of every man and woman of good will, to bring to individuals, families and peoples the gifts of brotherhood, harmony and peace. This is why Advent is par excellence the season of hope in which believers in Christ are invited to remain in watchful and active waiting, nourished by prayer and the effective commitment to love.
(Pope Benedict XVI)

By |December 2nd, 2018|Advent|0 Comments