THE O ANTIPHONS
December 17, 2015
THE O ANTIPHONS
THE O ANTIPHONS
As her final phase of preparation for Christmas, the Church recites or chants the O Antiphons during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. The O Antiphons express the Church’s longing for and expectation of the Messiah, and her startled wonderment at the fullness of grace which the Christ-Child is about to bestow on the world.
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.” In these words, the Lord Jesus, for whose coming we prepare in Advent and to whom we address these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us. The O Antiphons not only bring intensity to our Advent preparations, but they bring our preparations to a joyful conclusion.
Dec. 17 – O Sapientia: O Wisdom (Eccl 24: 5), you came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sir 24: 30) and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly (Wis 8: 1). Come, and teach us the way of prudence (Isa 40: 14).
Dec. 18 – O Adonai: O Adonai or O Lord and Ruler (Exod 6: 13) of the house of Israel (Matt 2: 6), you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush (Exod 3: 2); on Mount Sinai, you gave him your Law (Exod 20). Come, and with outstretched arm, redeem us (Jer 32: 21).
Dec. 19 – O Radix Jesse: O Root of Jesse, you stand for the ensign of all mankind (Isa 11: 10); before you, kings shall keep silence and, to you, all nations shall have recourse (Isa 52: 15). Come, and save us, and do not delay (Hab 2: 3).
Dec. 20 – O Clavis David: O Key of David (Apoc 3: 7), Scepter of the House of Israel, you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isa 22: 22). Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10).
Dec. 21 – O Oriens: O Rising Dawn (Zac 6: 12), Radiance of the Light eternal (Hab 3: 4) and Sun of Justice (Mal 3: 20), come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10; Lk 1: 78).
Dec. 22 – O Rex Gentium: O King of the Gentiles (Hag 2: 8), Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one (Eph 2: 20). Come, and save poor man whom you fashion out of clay (Gen 2: 7).
Dec. 23 – O Emmanuel: O Emmanuel (Isa 7: 14; 8: 8), our King and Lawgiver (Gen 49:10; cf. Ezek 21: 32), the Expected of the nations and their Savior (Isa 33: 22), come, and save us, O Lord our God.
“The School of Mary – Meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary” by Monsignor Florian Kolfhaus
December 16, 2015
“The School of Mary – Meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary”
The Wedding Feast at Cana
Once again, Canadian Catechist is very pleased to have a post written by Monsignor Florian Kolfhaus who works under the Secretariat of State as a diplomat of the Holy See to many international agencies such as the United Nations, NATO, WHO, OSCE, and many more. He has a PhD in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical “Gregorian” University and also has a Master’s degree in law. Believe me, we are in very good hands with the good Monsignor! He is one of the most faithful and loving priests I have ever had the privilege to communicate with, and I feel very blessed to be able to call him my father and friend. I hope that his words touch your heart and soul the way that they have touched mine.
I am pleased to be able to offer you a snippet from his latest book, soon to be released called “The School of Mary – Meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary” .
Here it is:
Jesus, who revealed himself at the wedding in Cana
ʽWe pray to God for a lot of things and don’t receive them. We pray to Mary for a lot and receive it. Why is this so? Not because Mary is more powerful than God, but because this way God wants to honour this Motherʼ.
Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, 1696-1787
Jesus performs his first miracle. He transforms water into wine. Three years later His last miracle will occur on earth when He transforms wine into blood. Both times it happens at a wedding. In Cana He is a guest, during the Last Supper He invites to sit at His table. Now He celebrates the marriage bond of a friend, then He marries His church. He is the Lamb, who holds the wedding and is unified with his bride, when she drinks from the cup that the Lord hands her. He is the New and Eternal Covenant that the Divine Groom wants to enter into with the drinking of His own blood. This is truly the best wine that the Lord saves until the end of His life (cf. Jn 2:10) before He distributes it to His disciples.
Mary is there with Jesus. She expresses her concern for the emergency situation of the bridal couple who run out of wine. She doesn’t need to make a request in order to bring help. In this moment the Mother becomes a bride, the woman who bore Jesus becomes his consort. Jesus names Mary ʽwomanʼ. In this way He gives her the old title of the primordial time of Creation, by that God predicted the enemy of the serpent (cf. Gen 3:15). Even before Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah and Lord through the miracle of Cana, He reveals who His Mother is. This woman is the new Eve who accompanies the Saviour. Jesus knows that the secure and happy life in Nazareth is definitely over when He does what Mary asks Him without words. He knows that the first sign of the Messiah will lead him along a way that will end up on the Golgotha. There He will call Mary again ʽwomanʼ. He almost wants to delay this moment when He doesn’t say anymore to his mother but to the woman: ʽWoman, why do you involve meʼ ? (Jn 2:4). In this instant Jesus sees the cross, in front of which He shies away as Man exclaiming: ʽMother, why do you involve me with such suffering?ʼ. He doesn’t want to go yet: ʽMy hour has not yet comeʼ (Jn 2:4). However, Jesus transforms water in wine for her. He listens to her because He wants to honour His Mother this way. Christ’s first miracle saves the wedding feast. His last one will save the souls of those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9). Mary’s request, that marks the beginning of this so blessed yet so terrible hour, doesn’t solve only the material need of the bridal couple, but heals the spiritual suffering of the sinners. The Mother pushes the Son without words to finally show himself as groom. Those, the lost at the roadside and the corner of houses, should be invited by Him to the wedding feast, that doesn’t have an end. Six enormous water jars are transformed by the Lord into sparkling wine so that the earthly celebration can still last for days. According to the Jewish custom, it should be for seven days. The last bowl will be his body, from which pours the real drink of life that never runs out and donates a heavenly celebration that never ends.
ʽDo whatever He tells youʼ (Jn 2:5). This is the last word that the Sacred Scriptures report of Mary. She says it to prepare Jesus’ first miracle. When His last one happens, He will repeat this word to instruct the apostles to transform again and again wine into His blood: ʽdo thisʼ (Lk 22:19). Mary’s mission goes far beyond the wedding of Cana. He, the one that transforms water into wine and bread into His body, can also transform my life and make it similar to his. Help me, ‘pleading Omnipotence’, in order that I do what He says so that this miracle could happen in me.
Prayer and Penance
December 4, 2015
Prayer and Penance
The surprising thing to many is that I haven’t had much to say lately. Yes, I have been very busy at finishing my semester at Ryerson University in Toronto this is true. I have also been a busy father to my children, and a husband to my wife. Like many of you I am sure, the recent events in the World, and the Church, have taken a bit of hold on me. It was even suggested to me by a very holy priest that their are times that require silence. This is one of those times. Not silent as in not doing anything, but silent as in prayer and penance.
I have been recently reading a book by a Russian Catholic lady named Catherine Doherty called “Welcome Pilgrim”. I haven’t finished it yet so I cannot give a solid recommendation for it, but so far it is wonderfully spiritual and Catholic. I needed something a little lighter to read to help give me a little lift in spirits, so far this book has been the medicine that my soul required.
Catherine said that she was taught by her parents from a very young age that one should ALWAYS have two hands lifted to God, one hand with prayer, and the other hand with penance. How beautiful. Talk about keeping it simple and true. Sometimes I could get a little congested with all the doctrinal material that I read and be to concerned about what I know about God. What’s most important is having a relationship with God, knowing God. Yes, of course as a catechist I have to know about God, but I also have to know God as well. It can be a subtle trap set by the devil. I’m much more aware of it now and pray for the proper balance of knowing about God and having an intimate relationship with him.
My dear friend and priest Monsignor Florian Kolfhaus from the Vatican always states that “Theology is best learned on ones knees“. This is so true. When praying the Rosary so many of my theological questions have been answered by thoughts and inspirations. I don’t mean that all of a sudden some voice speaks in my ear, but the answer to a question seems to be answered at times. I believe this can happen for anyone who prays the Rosary. You should try it!
Back to prayer and penance. For this Advent Season I am going to try and willingly take a posture of prayer and penance with both arms lifted up to God. I ask that my readers please join me in this posture and encourage their friends and family to do the same. Let us praise, reverence, and serve God. We can attend an extra Mass throughout the week, fill the food bins for the needy, say an extra decade of the Rosary, and the list goes on. There are so many Novenas that can be said, just Google Catholic Novenas. Once again, please join me in lifting up our arms to God in this time of Advent in prayer and penance.
One more thing before I go. As far as Confession is concerned, why not go every couple of weeks? You don’t have to be in mortal sin to go to Confession, you can go to receive the graces and confess any venial sins. Usually when in the confessional I will ask the priest for forgiveness for the sins that I do not even know that I have committed. It is a good habit to go to Confession a couple of times a month, and so many graces are received from just going.
May Almighty God protect us from the World, the devil, the heretics, and ourselves!