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O Antiphons 12/17 and 12/18

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  • Brjeromeleo@aol.com
    +PAX A re-run, but hope it brightens your late Advent prayers! Please forgive the different margins. I cannot get the document out of my Word program and had
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 19, 2006

      A re-run, but hope it brightens your late Advent prayers!

      Please forgive the different margins. I cannot get the document out of my
      program and had to open it in another program, leaving me with little I can
      to edit!
      December 17
      "O Wisdom, You came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and
      reaching from beginning to end, You ordered all things mightily and
      sweetly. Come and teach us the way of prudence."

      Much of what I write to you about the O Antiphons comes from what Abbot
      of St. Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate , Kent, told us in his conferences. I've
      added a thing or two to this one, as well. These Great Antiphons, which are
      at the Magnificat of Vespers during the last days before Christmas, are among
      the oldest and most poetic parts of the Western Liturgy. Their language soars
      and waxes in elegance that one rarely finds in later forms. Yet, in all that
      exquisite poetry, awesome theology, more to the point, Christology abounds.

      The Old Testament treats of Wisdom as the eldest daughter of
      creation, but also as a co-creator with God. Many of the OT
      references are commonly (and easily,) applied to the Holy Spirit, but
      this antiphon clearly applies them to Jesus.

      A recurring theme in the O Antiphons is the ascription of qualities
      of Yahweh to Christ, underlining the fact that all of God's divinity
      is Christ's as well. The phrase here "from beginning to end" stresses
      the eternal divinity of Christ, before all time, and the fact that
      He "ordered all things mightily and sweetly" recalls the role of the
      Logos, the Word, as creator of all things in the Prologue to St.
      John's Gospel.His might is gentle, not harsh, He is forceful and
      holds a creator's power, but sweetly, bearing these two traits, not
      in contrast, but in perfect, divine complement.
      Think of the greatest and most effective security protection imaginable, now
      think of that with none of the harsh sides of such power, but with the utmost
      tenderness of the gentlest of mothers. Multiply that image by infinity and
      might have a faint fraction of the tenderness of God which enfolds His utter
      absolute power. We have learned (often quite rightly!) to fear power, yet in
      the power is to nurture, to love, to caress, not to harm. He cares deeply for
      all He orders "mightily and sweetly" and that especially includes us!
      December 18
      "O Adonai and Ruler of the house of Israel, You appeared to Moses in
      the fire of the burning bush, and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law:
      Come, and with an outstretched arm redeem us!"

      Adonai, the Hebrew word meaning "Lord" had its vowel points used
      under the divine Name in Hebrew to warn the reader to substitute the
      euphemism "Lord" rather than say God's Name. Applied to Jesus, in
      symbolic shorthand this says that Jesus is the God of the Covenant.
      In NT Greek, this was rendered "Kyrios" and therein lies an
      interesting connection to another antiphon, that of the Magnificat on
      Ascension. There, in the words of St. John's Gospel, Jesus tells His
      Father: "I have made known Your Name." The name here is Yahweh, since
      the Greek referent is Kyrios. In other words, to say Adonai of Jesus
      is plainly to say that Jesus is God, is Yahweh.

      The use of "house" here is in the sense of "family", Jesus is the
      Ruler of the family of Israel. One may see a survival of that usage
      of house in our modern reference to the "house" of Windsor to mean
      the whole royal family. (Believe it or not, the Windsor reference
      came from me, the Yank.)

      The stress of connections between Yahweh and Jesus is repeated twice
      more: it was Jesus Who spoke to Moses in the burning bush, Jesus Who
      gave the Law on Sinai. The first has always been a more popularly
      known patristic idea in the East. I have had Western priests come
      hesitantly close to arguing with me when I have expressed that very
      strong tradition in the East of Christ in the burning bush. Perhaps
      they are to be forgiven for forgetting an antiphon that only comes
      once a year, but lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of prayer is the
      law of faith.

      A third and final identification of Jesus with Yahweh is the image of
      the outstretched arm. The OT is rich with references to this. It is
      with "outstretched arm" that God shows His power and might, leads His
      people out of Egypt, delivers them from dangers. Just as Jesus was
      identified with the burning bush and the Law, so now He is linked to
      the Passover itself.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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