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O Antiphons and Advent!

Dear OLPH,

“Oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine!” Crying out “Oh” is an older form of direct address. Today we might say: “Hey Clementine!” Although my sixth grade grammar teacher would chime in, “Hay is for horses and grass is for cows!” Oh my! How far we have strayed from good grammar!

Today we seize upon “O” - that powerful letter which communicates in English that we would like to address someone. We find it in some short prayers: “Oh dear Jesus!” or “Oh my God!” Sometimes those words slip out, not as prayers but as an exclamation(!) in which case we are not giving God’s holy name the dignity it reserves.

During Advent, we have a beautiful tradition of O Antiphons during evening prayer as we approach the arrival of the Christ-child. Four of these antiphons will frame our message series for Advent. They embrace themes from the great prophet Isaiah which are sprinkled through all of Advent, especially this year.  Here are our four:

Week 1 - O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Week 2 - O Root of Jesse's stem, sign of God's love for all his people: come to save us without delay

Week 3 - O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!

Week 4 - O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness.

While it may seem odd to address the Root of Jesse’s stem, or the Key of David, the “O” helps us to understand that these are titles or monikers for our dear Jesus. Jesus is the radiant dawn which battles back all darkness, even as our daylight hours grow shorter and shorter. His arrival on December 25th occurs just four days after the shortest day of the year. Jesus is Emmanuel, meaning God-with-us, the one who comes into our midst.  May these different ways of referring to Jesus enrich our understanding of who He is, like facets of a diamond lend an aspect to the richness of the whole jewel.

Now I realize that Advent is a busy time, lots to do! But please make a little extra time for God each day. Daily meditation on Scripture, a daily email meditation (I am doing Best Advent Ever!) or other prayers can be such a help to keep our focus on the coming Christ-child. Advent is a season of preparation, really joyful penance - to be ready to welcome the King of kings and Lord of lords! Even when we might not be feeling the joy of the season. A deeper joy emerges from knowing that God stands right with us no matter what life throws at us. I pray this Advent season may be a rich experience of God’s presence for our whole parish family!

In the Light of the Radiant Dawn,

Fr. Wilson

P.S.: What do you think of the new bulletin?! Twelve pages...full color. Amazing. Special thanks to Sue Obuchowski and Shanon Bianco for much hard work and dedication getting it together on short notice. We will have more space to share events from our greater community and a whole second page of ads from local businesses in our community. Please support them! They support us!