Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Faith Seeking Understanding for December 18, 2005

We have finally reached the final week of Advent: the birth of our longed-for Messiah draws close. The Sacred Liturgy of these days of watching and waiting for the Christ-Child helps us prepare our hearts and homes by reflecting on the beautiful images and prophecies of the coming of Christ. Each day is different, emphasizing a different fulfillment of an Old Testament type or prophecy, drawing us more deeply into the mystery of the Incarnation.

The Liturgy of the Hours celebrates in a particular way by singing the seven “O Antiphons.” These Antiphons are sung during Evening Prayer at the Canticle of Mary or “Magnificat.” They are called “O” Antiphons, because each verse in praise of the coming Christ addresses Him in a new title, always beginning with “O.” In Latin, the opening words are as follows: 1. “O Sapientia” (Wisdom), 2. “O Adonai” (Lord), 3. “O Radix Jesse” (Root of Jesse), 4. “O Clavis David” (Key of David), 5. “O Oriens” (Rising sun), 6. “O Rex Gentium” (King of Nations), 7. “O Emmanuel” (God-with-us).

These antiphons begin on December 17th, and continue until the Vigil of Christmas. Some Latin scholars have observed that the first letters of the prophetic titles (in reverse) create the sentence, “Ero cras,” or “Tomorrow, I will be.” Also known as the “Great Antiphons,” these seven verses in praise of our Lord have been referenced in Christian literature since the 5th century, and are an important part of our Catholic liturgical heritage.

Each title is based in the prophecies of Isaiah. Throughout the book of Isaiah, the messianic reign is described in these terms; as we pray the “O” Antiphons and prepare our hearts during this final week of Advent, we begin to sense just how much the Jewish people anticipated the coming of their longed-for Savior. The preparations of our homes, the purchasing and wrapping of gifts, the cooking and cleaning, and all the other “final touches” of Christmas anticipation have one goal in view: to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. We can join with the Church in praying these antiphons each day:

December 17: 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.

December 18: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

December 19: O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

December 20: O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven: come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.

December 21: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

December 22: O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

December 23: O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.