Advent: December 2008 Archives

O Emmanuel

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The Great Antiphon for December 23


Emmanuel.jpgO Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: Come to save us, O Lord our God.


O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.


Isaiah 7:14; 88:8; 33:22; Genesis 49:10; cf. Ezekiel 21:32.


Symbols: tablets of stone, Chalice and Host.

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O King of the Gentiles

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The Great Antiphon for December 22


Rex Gentium.jpgO King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.



O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:  veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.



Psalm 2:7-8; Haggai 2:8; Genesis 2:7; Ephesians 2:14-20.


Symbols, Crown, scepter.

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O Dawn of the East

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The Great Antiphon for December 21



Oriens.jpgO Dawn of the East, brightness of the light eternal, and Sun of Justice: Come, and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.



O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:  veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.



Zac 6:12; Habakkuk 3:4; Malachi 3:20; Psalm 19:6-7; 107:10; Luke 1:78.


Symbol: rising sun.

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Advent Summons

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Come forth from the holy place,
Sweet Child,
Come from the quiet dark
Where virginal heartbeats
Tick your moments.


Come away from the red music
Of Mary's veins.
Come out from the Tower of David
Sweet Child,
From the House of Gold.


Institution of the Crib by St Francis.jpg


Leave your lily-cloister,
Leave your holy mansion,
Quit your covenant ark.
O Child, be born!


Be born, sweet Child,
In our unholy hearts.


Come to our trembling,
Helpless Child.
Come to our littleness,
Little Child,
Be born unto us
Who have kept the faltering vigil.
Be given, be born,
Be ours again.


Came forth from your holy haven,
Come away from your perfect shrine,
Come to our wind-racked souls
From the flawless tent,
Sweet Child.


Be born, little Child,
In our unholy hearts.


Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C. (1921-2006) was Abbess of the Colettine Poor Clare monastery in Roswell, New Mexico Friar Journal. November 1957, p 36.

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God enters human history

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Nativity LLotto.jpgGod has become man. He has become a child. Thus he fulfills the great and mysterious promise to be Emmanuel: God-with us. Now he is no longer unreachable for anybody. God is Emmanuel. By becoming a child, he offers us the possibility of being on familiar terms with him.


I am reminded here of a rabbinical tale recorded by Elie Wiesel. He tells of Jehel, a little boy, who comes running into the room of his grandfather, the famous Rabbi Baruch. Big tears are rolling down his cheeks. And he cries, My friend has totally given up on me. He is very unfair and very mean to me. Well, could you explain this a little more? asks the master.


Okay, responds the little boy. We were playing hide and seek. I was hiding so well that he could not find me. But then he simply gave up and went home. Isn't that mean? The most exciting hiding place has lost its excitement because the other shops playing.


The master caresses the boy's face. He himself now has tears in his eyes. And he says, Yes, this is not nice. But look, it is the same way with God. He is in hiding, and we do not seek him. Just imagine! God is hiding, and we people do not even look for him.


In this little story a Christian is able to find the key to the ancient mystery of Christmas. God is in hiding. He waits for his creation to set out toward him, he waits for a new and willing Yes to come about, for love to arise as a new reality out of his creation. He waits for man.


Pope Benedict XVI

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O Key of David

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The Great Antiphon for December 20


Clavis David.jpgO Key of David, and Scepter of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: Come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.


O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit:  veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.


Revelation 3:7; Isaiah 22:22; Psalm 107:10. Symbols: key; broken chains.
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O Root of Jesse

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The Great Antiphon for December 19

Root of Jesse.jpgO Root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and tarry not.



O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.



Isaiah 11:1-3; 10; 52:15; Habakkuk 2:3.


Symbol: vine or plant in flower, especially a rose.

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O Adonai

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The Great Antiphon for December 18

  Adonai.jpgO Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and redeem us with outstretched arm.


O Adonai, et dux domus Israël, qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.


Isaiah 11:4-5; Exodus 6:13; 3:2, 20:1; Jeremiah 32:21.


Symbols: burning bush, stone tablets.

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O Wisdom

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The Great Antiphon for December 17


Oil Lamp.jpg

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: Come, and teach us the way of prudence.


O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.


Ecclesiastes 24:5; Isaiah 11: 2-3; 40:14; Sirach 24:2, 30; Wisdom 8:1.


Symbols: oil lamp, open book.



The importance of the "Great O Antiphons" is twofold:  each one is a title for the Messiah and each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah and other Old Testament Scripture passages foretelling the coming of the Messiah. These ancient texts from sacred Scripture sung as verses before and after the Magnificat at Vespers in the Divine Office. The Great O Antiphons are characteristically "Benedictine" in nature because they flourished in the monastic liturgy with great élan. One can't think of the Advent observance without thinking of the Great O Antiphons.




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Advent Presence

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As we are at the midway point in the liturgical season of Advent (in the roman rite) it is helpful to remember what we doing and why we are doing it. Pope Benedict is helpful in recalling the essence of the season.


"Advent" does not mean "expectation," as some may think. It is a translation of the Greek word parousia which means "presence" or, more accurately, "arrival," i. e., the beginning of a presence. In antiquity the word was a technical term for the presence of a king or ruler and also for the God being worshiped, who bestows his parousia on his devotees for a time.

Advent Taize.jpg "Advent," then, means a presence begun, the presence being that of God. Advent reminds us, therefore, of two things: first, that God's presence in the world has already begun, that he is present though in a hidden manner; second, that his presence has only begun and is not yet full and complete, that it is in a state of development, of becoming and progressing toward its full form.


His presence has already begun, and we, the faithful, are the ones through whom he wishes to be present in the world. Through our faith, hope, and love he wants his light to shine over and over again in the night of the world.


That night is "today" whenever the "Word" becomes "flesh" or genuine human reality. The Christ child comes in a real sense whenever human beings act out of authentic love for the Lord.


Pope Benedict XVI

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2 angels.jpgRejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice; let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.


Gaudete Sunday is called such because of the first word in Latin of the antiphon that begins, Gaudete...Rejoice.... The full antiphon is noted above. It orients our prayer and Mass today! The presence of the Lord is acknowledged to be here, right now, in our midst. Catholics are a people full of joy today and everyday of our existence. The Presence of the Lord is always in our midst: in the Eucharist, sacred Scripture, in our hearts and in our community. Pope Benedict offers us a perspective on an aspect of this joy:


The root of man's joy is the harmony he enjoys with himself. He lives in this affirmation. And only one who can accept himself can also accept the you, can accept the world. The reason why an individual cannot accept the you, cannot come to terms with him, is that he does not like his own I [the I is the whole self, one's entire body, soul and mind] and, for that reason, cannot accept a you. Something strange happens here. We have seen that the inability to accept one's I leads to the inability to accept a you. But how does one go about affirming, assenting to, one's I?


The answer may perhaps be unexpected: We cannot do so by our own efforts alone. Advent tree.jpgOf ourselves, we cannot come to terms with ourselves. Our I becomes acceptable to us only if it has first become accept to another I. We can love ourselves only if we first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when takes the child's tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist... If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: "It is good that you exist" -must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love.


For it is the way of love to will the other's existence and, at the same time, to bring that existence forth again. The key to the I lies with the you; the way to the you leads through the I.


(Benedictus, 2006)

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. After years of study, work and trying to find meaning in life, he still has a sense of humor. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic lay ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Advent category from December 2008.

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