Tag Archives: Advent

O Antiphon: O Dawn of the East (Dayspring)

Christ in the Carpenter GLaTour.jpgO Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O 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. Psalm 19:6-7.  (Ps 19:6-7; Is 9:2).

Lost on us today by-and-large is the cosmological connections with Jesus as not only Son of God but also the Sun of Justice. Often I say that salvation comes from the East, the where we see the Rising Sun. This is not unique to me: the our parents in the Faith in Jesus knew this intimately because of their connection with the land, and the heavens. No doubt that today the Church gives us this antiphon on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Astronomically we, as Catholics, are aware that God works in and through creation. Architecturely, Christians in Rome built churches that accounted for the sun with not only its usefulness in growing vegetables but energy and light, taking up the ancient liturgical (theological) metaphor noted in today’s antiphon: Christ is the Dayspring, the Dawn of the East. Christ is Light from Light, as stated in the Creed. Those who pray the Divine Office will recall that in the Canticle of Zachary –the Benedictus– pray the words of St Luke: “the Dawn from on high”; He will give light to those who live in darkness, those who dwell in the shadow of death.

It is only Jesus who dispels the darkness of the world (temporally) and mystically (spiritually). And that’s why we face East in the sacred Liturgy, and that is why the priest ought to face East when praying the Mass. 

O Antiphon: O Key of David

Nativity detail GDavid.jpgO 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.

O Key of David and Sceptre of
the House of Israel, who opens and no one can shut, who shuts and no one can open
(Is 22:22; Rev 3:7): Come and bring the prisoners forth from the prison cell, those
who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death (Is 42:7; Ps 106:13-14; Lk 1:9)

For Jews reading (hearing) this will notice that Jesus makes the claim that he is God, precisely for us, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. The image of the “Key of David” is a clear indication of God and His holy name. As Pius Parsch reminds us, “It should, then, be perfectly obvious that Christ is the “Key of David,” i.e., the One who opens all the secrets and mysteries of the Old Testament. The sceptre implies a true fullness of power over God’s kingdom.”

O Antiphon: O Root of Jesse

Master of ames IV of Scotland MS Ludwig IX.jpgO Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super
quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum
nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse (Ac 13:22-23), standing as a sign to the
peoples (Is 11:10), before whom kings shall shut their mouths (Is 52:15), and
whom the nations shall seek (1 Kings 10:24; 2 Chr 9:23): Come and deliver us and do
not delay (Hab 2:3; Rev 22:20)!

The prophet saw the rebuilding of a destroyed Israel and foretold a Messiah, a twig of hope from the line of David. As Pius Parsch said, “The bulk of the anitphon is devoted to a description of the kingdom. The small twig becomes the unifying principle about which the nations will gather like soldiers and citizens about their flag. With yearning the peoples will assemble around Him, will turn and acknowledge Him as Ruler. The Messiah’s glory will be so great that even kings will stand dumstruck in wonder and awe.”

O Antiphon: O Wisdom

O Sapientia.jpg

O Sapinetia quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter sauviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reached from end to end, and disposed of all things sweetly and mightly: come and teach us the way of prudence

You can hear the Great O Antiphons here

I absolutely love this part of Advent as our liturgical sensibility starts to be centrally focussed on the birth of the Savior, Emmanuel. At Vespers the antiphon for the Magnificat hymn in the Divine Office shows us  the solemnity of the next days. The first antiphon is noted above in Latin and in English. Each of the antiphons appeals to the Old Testament types given to tell of the coming of the Messiah. The OT typology indicates the new dispensation of grace. Today, we ask for a new sense of prudence rooted in Christ.

And NOW we are able to sing the famous Advent hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. It is only tonight that singing the hymn makes any real sense as opposed to singing it when Advent begins, a common mistake.

I was reading a bit on Advent in Father Pius Parsch’s The Church’s Year of Grace:

Come, teach us the way of prudence! What an all-embracing petition! Make us perfect Christians, Christians who are wholly penetrated –mind, will, and emotions– with the leaven of Christianity. Make us true Christian personalities who combine strength  with gentleness. Make us strong in battle against hell, the world and self; make us glow with the love of God and neighbor! Enable us to show virile courage, and heroism unto martyrdom. Enable us to show the virgin gentleness and sweetness of a bride. In this sense we pray, “Thy kingdom come!” All this is part of our yearning plea, Come! teach us the way of prudence.

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Significance of the Christmas Tree

Vatican Chrsitmas tree.jpegMy mother and the neighbors have had the Christmas tree up for a week. We’ve got three small trees. In fact, my neighborhood is alighted with Christmas lights. New York’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit last week with several stars entertaining us with “Christmas songs.” The Vatican put its Christmas tree, a gift from the good people of Bolzano, Italy (a German speaking of Italy where Pope Benedict has vacationed in the past) A little too early for my tastes. SO, it MUST be Christmas time!!! What does it all mean? But what does the Christmas tree stand for? How ought the Christmas tree be interpreted by the Catholic?

The Christmas tree began as a reminder of the tree of life and the life-giving cross of Jesus Christ. When you see the evergreen Christmas tree you will also see the life-giving tree of life on which Jesus hung as our crucified savior.
For those interested, a short history is helpful.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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