Advent

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23rd December - O Immanuel

Immanuel, a name which means God is with us.
In Jesus we see our God made visible.

This is what Christ said on coming into the world. “You, who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me. I am coming to do your will.” And this will was for us, you and me, to be made Holy by the offering of that body once and for all, for our salvation

21st December - O Rising Sun

O Rising Sun. You are the splendour of Eternal Light and the Sun of Justice.
O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness, those who dwell in the shadows of death.

At this time of year, and today as the shortest day of the year, it is wonderful how the Church puts on our lips this antiphon where we call on the Light of Christ to come and enlighten our darkness. My prayer during this Advent season is asking for the grace to acknowledge the times when we prefer darkness before true light, as the intercessions for Week One of Advent put it.

20th December - O Key of David

The fourth of the Advent antiphons evokes the coming of Jesus with a title referring to the great King David and the prophecy of Isaiah, who wrote:
‘I will put the key of the house of David on his shoulder; when it opens, no one will close; when it closes, no one will open it‘ (Is.22, 22)

How to understand this prophecy?

18th December - O Adonai

“O Adonai and leader of Israel,
you appeared to Moses in a burning bush
and you gave him the Law on Sinai.
O come and save us with your mighty power.”

In this antiphon we call on God by the name Adonai. The dictionary says that this word comes from the Cannanite and Hebrew word adon, which means - LORD. When God appeared to Moses, he called himself: I AM WHO I AM. (Ex 3:14). Out of reverence the Jews did not utter his name but substituted Adonai.

O King - 'O Antiphon' for the 22nd of December

O King whom all the peoples desire,
you are the cornerstone which makes all one.

Our 'O' Antiphon tonight is about a King who became an infant - not an infant who became a King. Here we hear echoes already of the Beatitudes - Blessed are the poor in spirit. As usual Jesus turns things upside down. He exposes the stupidity of pride and proves the wisdom of humility.

He could have assumed our nature in adult form and proceeded swiftly to His task, but He chose not to.

O Rising Sun - 'O Antiphon' for the 21st of December

O Rising Sun
You are the Splendour of Eternal Light
and the Sun of Justice
come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and
in the shadow of death.

A few day ago one of our Sisters showed me a photo of some Canadian square with a Christmas tree. We were shocked by the thousand of electrical lamps in that square, shining all around. I ponder if people seeking for light, does this light help them to find a real happiness? Today there is less faith in the world but more people seeking to switch-on lights.

O Root of Jesse - 'O Antiphon' for the 19th of December

O Root of Jesse set up as a sign to the peoples, come to save us and delay no more.

Yes, today we call upon God to save us and delay no more, this theme is prominent in all the Liturgy of this season. People through the ages right up to the present day either explicitly or implicitly have called upon God to save them – but the marvellous truth is that our loving Father in heaven wants it infinitely more than we could ever conceive in our finite minds and hearts. So much does He thirst for all peoples to be with Him for all eternity that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to be our Saviour and Redeemer.

O Adonai - 'O Antiphon' for the 18th of December

Was is St Thomas Aquinas who observed that the Law and the commandments laid down for the people of Israel, and even the new law of the Gospel, would kill, if it had not been for the grace and the mercy of God, revealed in and by Jesus?

The Gospel passage we heard this morning at Mass, of Joseph’s intention to quietly divorce Mary so as not to draw down scandal – and even death – upon her, seems to make this observation a startlingly real fact – it seems to manifest the logical consequence of transgressing the law, or of rigidly observing it.

O Wisdom - 'O Antiphon' for the 17th of December

O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth.

The Genealogy of St Matthew’s Gospel, which we read this morning at Mass, always evokes St Paul’s exclamation in his letter to the Romans: “O the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, how inscrutable his ways! To Him be glory for ever, Amen.” (Rom 11:33). Which one of us would have chosen a harlot, a prostitute, a murderer and adulterer as fitting ancestors of the Eternal Son of God?

A Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudate Sunday – Gaudate means Rejoice – taken from the entrance antiphon “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. The Lord is near!”

One may ask if we can really rejoice this Advent/Christmas when our brothers and sisters all over the world are suffering so much as a result of the Pandemic which has left no one untouched. These words “rejoice in the Lord always” are taken from St Paul’s letter to the Philippines which he wrote while in prison.

A Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

During Advent the Church brings us back in time to the centuries before the coming of Christ – the readings allow us to identify with the sentiments, longings and hopes of the people of the Old Testament who awaited the Messiah. We see how God was at work in their lives, leading them to the truth about their relationship with Him and each other. Last Sunday the Prophet Isaiah presented us with the image of God as Father and the Potter who formed His people. In today’s first reading God is the Shepherd who gently leads His flock, feeding them and gathering the lambs in His arms, holding them against His breast.

A Reflection for the 1st Sunday of Advent

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’, the beginning of a presence.

His presence has already begun, and we, faithful, are the ones through whom He wishes to be present in the world.
‘The Christ child comes’ in a real sense whenever human beings act out of authentic love for the Lord.

Video: O Antiphon for the 23rd of December

A short clip of our community singing the O Antiphon for the 23rd of December (the Dominican version).

O Immanuel ...

The time of waiting is coming to an end. Soon the mystery of the Incarnation will be re-enacted once more in our liturgical celebrations and especially in our hearts.

For the past few weeks the cry "Maranatha - Come Lord Jesus" has been our spoken and unspoken prayer. But there is another side to this longing desire.

Video: O Antiphon for the 22nd of December

A short clip of our community singing the O Antiphon for the 22nd of December (the Dominican version).

O King ...

Jesus is our King, our hearts are waiting for the joy and peace that he brings to each one of us so to pitch his royal tent within us. Are we ready to be part of the building of which Christ is the corner stone? Are we ready to be made one and alive, for Christ is the living stone on which we build our lives.

Video: O Antiphon for the 21st of December

A short clip of our community singing the O Antiphon for the 21st of December (the Dominican version).

O Rising Sun ...

In this "O" Antiphon the three metaphors- the rising Sun, splendour of the eternal light and sun of justice -- all symbolise Christ, the Son of God, the promised Messiah whose birth as our Saviour we will celebrate in four days time.

Jesus calls Himself the 'Light of the World' in St. John's Gospel( 9:5)

Video: O Antiphon for the 20th of December

A short clip of our community singing the O Antiphon for the 20th of December (the Dominican version).

O Key of David ...

In "The Prayer for the Church in Ireland" Pope Benedict opened with the words "God of our fathers, renew us in the faith which is our life and salvation". Our own St Catherine of Siena constantly prayed for and spoke of "the light of holy faith".

Video: O Antiphon for the 19th of December

A short clip of our community singing the O Antiphon for the 19th of December (the Dominican version).

Jesse was the father of King David from whose royal line the future Messiah would be born. When we read the genealogy of Jesus most of the characters mentioned were not very praise worthy according to human standards. Yet God's infinite, all powerful wisdom, compassion and merciful love were at work throughout salvation history not allowing human failure, sin, malice nor indifference to interfere or thwart His divine plan.

Video: O Antiphon for the 18th of December

A short clip of our community singing the O Antiphon for the 18th of December (the Dominican version).

O Lord ...

During this Advent Season, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, we are surely filled anew with wonder at the depths of love that led our heavenly father with those same outstretched arms to send his only begotten Son as our Redeemer -- that Son who some 30 years later, stretched out his arms on the Cross in an immense act of love and died for our salvation.

Video: O Antiphon for the 17th of December

A short clip of our community singing the O Antiphon for 17th of December (the Dominican version).

On the 16th of December we began our 9-day Novena for the great feast of Christmas, and for following seven days we accentuate that longing and find its expression most beautifully in the great Vesper antiphons for the Magnificat, called the "O" antiphons, because they all begin with 'O'. These antiphons will be used each evening before and after the Magnificat, and as the Gospel Acclamation at Mass, daily, for the 7 days before Christmas.

A Reflection for Week 4 of Advent

With the fourth Sunday of Advent, the Lord’s Birth is at hand. With the words of the prophet Micah, the Liturgy invites us to look at Bethlehem, the little town in Judea that witnessed the great event. Unfortunately, in our day, it does not represent an attained and stable peace, but rather a peace sought with effort and hope.

A Reflection on the ‘O Antiphon’ for the 21st of December

On this the shortest day of the year it is appropriate that our ‘O Antiphon’ has the theme of light bringing us hope that darkness can never overpower Eternal Light.

Recently while reading an article in the National Geographic on ‘Solar Sailing in Space’- which I did not fully understand! – one sentence caught my attention: scientists in the last century have discovered that “light is pure energy – that property in nature that makes things go, run or happen.” These four words ‘light is pure energy’ seemed to jump out of the page and immediately all the references to light in relation to God in the Old and New Testaments flooded my mind. Light is pure energy! What a wonderful image of God!
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