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Archive for December 17th, 2012

The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil. An octave is literal 8 days.  From the earliest time of the Church 8 is considered significant: 7 days of the creation, then on the 1st Day of the Week, the 8th day, the new creation:  Christ is risen!

The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: 

O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

 O Adonai (O Lord)

O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

O Clavis David (O Key of David)

O Oriens (O Rising Sun)

O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)

 O Emmanuel.

According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai,Sapientia – the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.  

Notably, the Great O Antiphons are the basis of the great Advent Hymn: O, Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

(The information above is cited from an article in Cyberbrethren)

December 17th:

O Sapientia:

“O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.

Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3), and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).  St. Paul points out that, “… the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1: 25.  Jesus is the Wisdom of God.  He was weak to show forth the power of our salvation in every Word and Work He did and finally and fully in the weakness of the manger and Cross bearing our sin.    In Proverbs 8 and 9, Wisdom is personified as a woman:  

Wisdom has built her house;
   she has hewn her seven pillars.
2She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
   she has also set her table.
3She has sent out her young women to call
   from the highest places in the town,
4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    To him who lacks sense she says,
5“Come, eat of my bread
   and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6Leave your simple ways, and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”

She invites the simple to her table.  The Lord invites the simple to His Table to walk in His Way, the way of insight and live.

 

 Oh, come, Oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, 
Who ordered all things mightily; 
To us the path of knowledge show, 
and teach us in her ways to go. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

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He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of GOD. – (Daniel 3, 25)

Daniel the prophet and the Three Young Men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were among the leaders of the people of Judah who were taken into captivity in Babylon. Even in that foreign land they remained faithful to the one true God in their piety, prayer, and life. On account of such steadfast faithfulness in the face of pagan idolatry, the Three Young Men were thrown into a fiery furnace, from which they were saved by the Lord and emerged unharmed (Daniel 3). Similarly, Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions, from which he also was saved (Daniel 6). Blessed in all their endeavors by the Lord—and in spite of the hostility of some—Daniel and the Three Young Men were promoted to positions of leadership among the Babylonians (Dan 2:48–493:306:28). To Daniel in particular the Lord revealed the interpretation of dreams and signs that were given to King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar (Daniel 2, 4, 5). To Daniel himself the Lord gave visions of the end times.

Lord God, heavenly Father, You rescued Daniel from the lions’ den and the three young men from the fiery furnace through the miraculous intervention of an angel. Save us now through the presence of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, who has conquered all our enemies through His blood and taken away all our sins as the Lamb of God, who now reigns from His heavenly throne with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Source: Treasury of Daily Prayer

Reflection:  The response of rulers to Daniel and his three companions was either to slap them on the back in thanks or slap them into prison in rage.  The reason behind both responses was they did not “go with the flow”.  In the opening chapters, we find out they did not eat the King’s food, that is, they kept kosher. Later, they did not bow to the king’s false god.  In other words, Daniel and the 3 young men obeyed in faith the Commandments as in the 1st Commandment: You shall have no other gods before you.  I do not think they so kept the Commandments in order to be saved but they were called and saved to do so.  Also us as Christians are so saved by the Lord to delight  in His commandments. As we are called to follow in the Way who is Jesus Christ, He calls us to be different than the world.  We can not bow to the gods of this world:  mammon, Caesar, self. These verses from the Sermon on the Mount, St. Matthew 5: 13, is the Lord’s vocation to His people to so live:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

G. K. Chesterton is so right when he wrote this on Gospel verse above:

Christ did not tell his apostles that they were only the excellent people, or the only excellent people, but that they were the exceptional people; the permanently incongruous and incompatible people; and the text about the salt of the earth is really as sharp and shrewd and tart as the taste of salt. It is because they were the exceptional people, that they must not lose their exceptional quality. “If salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” … If the world grows too worldly, it can be rebuked by the Church; but if the Church grows too worldly, it cannot be adequately rebuked for worldliness by the world.

Our Lord’s  dire warning is clear: go with the flow and we are no more.  Salt does it’s thing because it is different from that which it seasons and preserves.  Not going with the peer groups of the world is hard and this is why we are encouraged this day by Daniel and the Three Young Men.

Let us pray…

O God, Your Son protected faithful Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace of the king. Grant us protection in our time of testing that we would boldly confess Your name, reject all false worship, and live and die in confidence, knowing that we are safe in Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

(from the Altar Book of The Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House)

Post-Script:  In an apocryphal song, the three young men sang in the fiery furnace the following, adapted for liturgical usage.  In the Lutheran Church it is sung during Easter Vigil when all creation waits for the last revelation of all God’s children in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:19):

All you works of the Lord, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
You angels of the Lord, bless the Lord;
You heavens, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
You sun and moon, bless the Lord;
You stars of heaven, bless the Lord;
You showers and dews, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
You winds of God, bless the Lord;
You fire and heat, bless the Lord;
You winter and summer, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
You dews and frost, bless the Lord;
You frost and cold, bless the Lord;
You ice and snow, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
You nights and days, bless the Lord;
You light and darkness, bless the Lord;
You lightning and clouds, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
Let the earth bless the Lord;
You mountains and hills, bless the Lord;
All you green things that grow on the earth, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
You wells and springs, bless the Lord;
You rivers and seas, bless the Lord;
You whales and all who move in the waters, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
All you birds of the air, bless the Lord;
All you beasts and cattle, bless the Lord;
All you children of mortals, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
You people of God, bless the Lord;
You priests of the Lord, bless the Lord;
You servants of the Lord, bless the Lord;
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
You spirits and souls of the righteous, bless the Lord;
You pure and humble of heart, bless the Lord;
Let us bless the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Praise Him and magnify Him forever!
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.
 

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