Monday, December 17, 2012

O Sapientia

With yesterday's celebration of Gaudete, or "Rejoice," Sunday, we turned a corner in Advent. The season moved from one of penance and judgment, to one of rejoicing and joyful expectation, "as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ." At least for this particular year, the best manifestation of this shift following Gaudete Sunday is our recitation of and immersion in the "O Antiphons," which we begin reciting every year on 17 December and conclude on 23 December.

In the Church's liturgy the O Antiphons are part of Evening Prayer, known in Latin as Vespers. These lovely antiphons address Christ with different biblical titles. In the Church's liturgy the antiphons are used with the Gospel Canticle, reciting them before and after praying the canticle itself, which today is Ephesians 1:3-10, a passage that begins with "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens."

These antiphons can and often are, perhaps even usually, prayed and recited alone, outside of the Liturgy of the Hours. This is most fitting, especially in family situations. In English, today's antiphon, "O Wisdom," is:

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

All of the O Antiphons are composites, made up of different scriptural passages. Today's antiphon is from Sirach 24:3 and Wisdom 8:1.

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