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Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Sapientia: O Wisdom - December 17

Christmas Octave

During the final week of Advent between December 17 and December 23rd, the Church observes the custom of praying each day one of the seven “O Antiphons”. These refer to the seven antiphons recited before and after the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. Incorporated into the monastic life during the Middle Ages this practice builds our excitement and expectation during the final days leading to Christmas and the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Each antiphon emphasizes a title for the Messiah and refers to a prophecy on the coming of the Messiah. They progress historically from the beginning of time, through the messianic prophecies of Israel, ending with the Incarnation and birth of Christ. Each O Antiphon follows the same structure, beginning with an invocation of the expected Messiah using a title given to Our Lord, followed by praise, and ending with a plea for him to “Come”.

The seven titles given to Jesus in the antiphons are Wisdom (Sapientia in Latin), Ruler of the House of Israel (Adonai), Root of Jess (Radix), Key of David (Clavis), Rising Dawn (Oriens), King of the Gentiles (Rex), and Emmanuel. Each Latin initial combines to form SARCORE, which when arraigned backward spells the Latin phrase ERO CRAS meaning “I will be with you tomorrow.” And that He will, at Christms Vigil.........

Today, the O Antiphons are familiar to us because of the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” with each verse paralleling the antiphon. So tonight with the first O Antiphon, O Wisdom, we begin the final phase of preparation for Christmas.

O Sapientia
O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High.
Pervading and permeating all creation,
mightily ordering all things:
come and teach us the way of prudence.

This antiphon is based on the following scripture:

Sirach 24:3”From the mouth of the Most High I came forth, and mist like covered the earth.”

Wisdom 8:1 “Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well.”

Wisdom is a divine attribute, present with God at the beginning of creation. Jesus is eternal; there was never a time when He was not. Through Him (as the Creed states) all things were made. Wisdom is a prefigurement of Jesus, the eternal Word of God, or the “logos” as Saint John states in John 1:1. Wisdom will teach us prudence, how to live our life with discretion and in holiness. Wisdom will teach us to follow the will of God.

Verse from
O Come O Come Emmanuel
O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Zoltán Kodály L'Accorche-Choeur

Blessed Advent Season
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