The Great O Antiphons: Dec. 17
A re-run, but hope it brightens your late Advent prayers!
"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
Lawrence of St. Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate , Kent, told us in his conferences.
added a thing or two to this one, as well. These Great Antiphons, which are
sung 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
you might have a faint fraction of the tenderness of God which enfolds His utter
and absolute power. We have learned (often quite rightly!) to fear power, yet in
God 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!
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Prayers for the eternal rest of Jerome and Louise, my parents, on the 65th anniversary of their wedding. Thanks all, for your prayers for them.
Prayers for Ken, in his 80’s, his cancer is in his lungs now and hospice care has been called, he is deteriorating rapidly. Prayers, too, for his wife, for Janet and Mel and Barry. Prayers for Ken’s happy death and for all who will mourn him.
Prayers for Max’s older brother who is developmentally disabled. He faced years of medical complications in the past and was able to overcome difficulties. Now with age he faces possible surgery again and heightened risk during procedure because he is not totally independent of an oxygen vent which helps him to breathe. His elderly mother is distraught. May it be possible that physical ailment can be handled without surgery. Prayers for his Mom and all the family. All in accordance with God's will.
Please prayers for Sean, with a recovering alcoholic mother, who is full of hate. Diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, depression, bipolar. Please bring him peace. Prayers, too, for his Mom and all his family.
Deo gratias, Georgia, Charlene’s dog, is doing well at home, continued prayers for her recovery.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
May 1, August 31, December 31
Chapter 73: On the Fact That the Full Observance of Justice Is Not
Established in This Rule
Now we have written this Rule
in order that by its observance in monasteries
we may show that we have attained some degree of virtue
and the rudiments of the religious life.
But for those who would hasten to the perfection of that life
there are the teaching of the holy Fathers,
the observance of which leads to the height of perfection.
For what page or what utterance
of the divinely inspired books of the Old and New Testaments
is not a most unerring rule for human life?
Or what book of the holy Catholic Fathers
does not loudly proclaim
how we may come by a straight course to our Creator?
Then the Conferences and the Institutes
and the Lives of the Fathers,
as also the Rule of our holy Father Basil --
what else are they but tools of virtue
for right-living and obedient monks?
But for us who are lazy and ill-living and negligent
they are a source of shame and confusion.
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God's protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
I used to love to teach 8th graders. At the top of a kindergarten
through 8th grade school, they thought they had REALLY arrived, they
were very pleased with themselves! My 8th graders knew that I loved
them, so I could afford to tease them a bit. I used to narrow my
eyes into a fake menacing gaze and say: "Ah, now you're the top, but next
year? Next year you will be FRESHMEN! The lowest of the low! Just
wait till high school." And they would laugh, secure in the fact
that I MUST be joking....
Well, folks, the beauty of this last chapter is that is tells us we
are ALL eighth graders, if even that. We'd do well to take St.
Benedict seriously on this one, but I'll bet he smiled with the same
affection I used to show to my kids. Three times a year we read the
Holy Rule entirely and three times a year he lovingly shakes us
awake to the reality that we will for all of our lives, always be
freshmen next year!
That's the Benedictine surprise that's wrapped in conversion of
manners: we never "arrive", we're not so hot as we thought ourselves
to be, we are just barely ready for the next step.
This is VERY different from the self-loathing we spoke about
yesterday with the bitter zeal. This is the true self-knowledge, the
smiling, even shrugging acceptance of the fact that we are just on
the way, nothing special there!
God is so vast and beyond us, we are always taking the tumbling
first steps of toddlers towards Him, but He is always holding on and
beaming with the pride and love of a parent guiding those steps. Our
Holy Rule is filled with awesome things, yet it is only
the "rudiments" of the spiritual life!
Eighth graders, eighth graders all, but ah, what a high school
Love and prayers,