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ADVENT: HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF THE O ANTIPHONS?

 

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In the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours, Evening Prayer, also know as Vespers, always includes the great prayer of Mary known as the Magnificat. Each day, the Magnificat is preceded by a short verse or “antiphon.”

In the last seven days of Advent (December 17-24), the antiphons before the Magnificat are known as the “O Antiphons.

These “O Antiphons” were composed in the seventh or eighth century when monks put together texts from the Old Testament, particularly from the prophet Isaiah, which looked forward to the coming of our salvation

Each of the O Antiphons highlights a different title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel.

Each one of them refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. A feature of the O Antiphons is that the first letter of each invocation, when read backwards, forms an acrostic in Latin: the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel in reverse form the Latin words: ERO CRAS. These can be understood as the words of Christ, responding to his people’s plea, saying “Tomorrow I will be there.”

These antiphons could be recited as a family, whether during grace at meals, in front of the manger scene, or in front of the Christmas tree. (XT3)

1catholicsalmon:

Fascinating detail and historical background, provides depth and meaning. The Exultation of the Cross was celebrated yesterday.

Originally posted on Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts:

Today we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

During the first 280 years of its life the Catholic Church was severely persecuted. The symbol of the Cross, the symbol of public humiliation and excruciating death, was rarely used in our Christian iconography. But this doesn’t mean that the early Christians were reluctant to express their devotion to the Cross. Writing in the year 204, the Christian theologian Tertullian said: “At every going in and out, when we put on our clothes, when we sit at table, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign [of the Cross].”

In the year 313, the Emperor Constantine signed the Edict of Milan which proclaimed toleration for the Christian faith within the Roman Empire. Constantine’s mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and with the support of the local bishop, excavated…

View original 577 more words

The Catholic Connection: Part 3

The earliest Christian symbol: @1catholicsalmon

All my life have I been steeped in Catholic Tradition but I ‘ve taken it for granted, merrily assimilating them as part of the Catholic me.  I have always known the shepherd is symbolic of Christ. I can’t even remember when I acquired this knowledge. I never questioned why or where it originated. Well, on my trip to Rome I realised just how much Tradition is part of the Catholic Faith. It rests on it firmly and unequivocally, as far back as the times the time of our ancestors in the Old Testament!

I attended part of a course on Catechises (that of passing on of the Faith) at Maryvale College, in which the above symbol was presented as a matter of course during discussion.  It was pointed out as being the symbol present on the cover of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This changed my perception of the symbol: a simple picture of a shepherd with his sheep, used to grace the cover of the document outlining the Tradition of the Church? It must be of much significance then!

Well, it is.

On the inside cover of the CCC is this explanation for the use of the symbol:

‘The design of the logo on the cover is taken from a Christian tombstone in the catacombs of Domitilla, in Rome, which dates from the end of the third century A.D. This pastoral image, of pagan origin, was used by Christians to symbolize the rest and the happiness of that the soul of the departed finds in eternal life

This image also suggests certain characteristics aspects of the Catechism: Christ, the Good Shepherd who leads and protects his faithful (the lamb) by his authority (the Staff), draws them by the melodious symphony of the truth (the panpipes and makes them lie down in the shade of the ‘tree of life’, his redeeming Cross which opens paradise.’

Image@http://www.vatican.va

On this trip to Rome, I didn’t get to the catacombs of Domitilla, but did visit the catacombs of St Calistus. The photograph above,  is of this wonderful symbol used by the Christians of ancient Rome to communicate their affinity with Christ and with one another. As it was used as pagan symbol the adoption of it by the Christian communities in Rome ensured that they would meet safely to participate in the Eucharist without fear of reprisal or capture.

The objective of this post? To point out that the links to Catholic Connection Tradition runs deep and wide. It is far reaching and extensive. I experienced it in the garden and catacombs of fellow Christians who have gone before me.

Take a little time to unearth them  and see for yourself.

I give thanks and pray about this as written by St Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:3:

‘We are indebted to give thanks to God for you always, my brethren, as it is necessary, because your faith grows all the more and the love of each and every one of you increases toward his neighbour.’

There are countless reasons to honour the Mother of our Lord and our blessed Mother:

  • The Archangel Gabriel honoured Mary.
  • St. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, honoured Mary.
  • Of all the people ever created, God choose Mary to bear His Son.
  • Thanks to Mary’s fiat, the gates of Heaven were opened for us.
  • Jesus gave us Mary as our spiritual mother.
  • The fourth commandment requires that we honour our mother.
  • Mary loves Jesus perfectly and also loves each of us perfectly.
  • No Mary, no Jesus. (Although Jesus, as God, always existed) 
  • By honouring Mary, we are imitating Jesus – who will honor his mother for all eternity.
  • From Mary came the Eucharistic Body and Blood.
  • God chose Mary as His way to come to us.
  • Mary helps defeat Satan.
  • The early Church Fathers offered high praise for Mary.
  • Mary was a part of the most significant events in Jesus’ life.
  • God entrusted His own Son to Mary.
  • God has honoured Mary above all creatures.
  • Mary’s consent was required to bring Jesus into the world – Her permission was essential to our redemption.
  • Mary worked and suffered for our salvation and it would therefore be ungrateful not to honor and reverence her.
  • Mary’s consent made reparation to God for the disobedience of our first parents.
  • Mary is a perfect example of obedience.
  • Mary is sinless.
  • Mary is full of grace.
  • Mary is blessed among women.
  • Mary is the mother of our Lord.
  • Mary has found favor with God.
  • Mary said all would call her blessed.
  • Mary is the greatest of all saints.
  • Mary is the Queen of heaven.
  • Mary underwent intense sufferings on our behalf.
  • Mary is our Mother by the Will of Christ.
  • Mary is the greatest example of virtue in a creature.
  • Surely someone worthy of being the mother of the Jesus – that is, God! – is worthy of our honor. 
  • Jesus’ humanity was drawn from Mary – without her, we could not be Jesus’ brothers and sisters.
  • If the Ark in the Old Testament which held the written words of God was to be so revered, how much more should the Ark which contained the living Word be revered?
  • If one would “carefully handle a plant that brought forth the choicest of flowers”, how much more ought one to show devotion to Mary, who brought forth Christ?
  • Mary is our best guide to Christ.
  • Without Mary there would be no: Christmas, Easter, Salvation, Eucharist, New Testament…
  • Without devotion to Mary, one loses out on knowing their Mother!
  • It’s a privilege to have Mary pray for us, and those who honor her may ask for this privilege.
  • Would a wise person show great honour to an earthly king, yet snub his mother?
  • When one loves God, one should also love those whom God loves. “For it is the nature of love, to love when it feels itself loved, and to love all things loved of its beloved. So when the soul has by degrees known the love of its Creator toward it, it loves Him, and loving Him, loves all things whatsoever that God loves.” (St. Catherine of Siena)
  • If someone you knew gave up their own child so that you and your loved ones could live, would you not honour that person? Wouldn’t it show much ingratitude to not honour such a person? Well, Mary did give up her Son so that you and your loved ones might live!
  • If you want Mary to be there for you at your death, as she was for Jesus, you should be devoted to Mary during your life.
  • Jesus’ body – without which we could not be redeemed – was taken from, nourished by, and cared for by Mary.
  • Jesus’ plan for our redemption was totally dependent upon the Blessed Virgin’s participation – Any chance we have of salvation was totally dependent upon the Blessed Virgin’s participation.

And, since Scripture commands us to honor our mother and father, how could we fulfill this commandment if we don’t honor Mary, our spiritual Mother? As Scripture says…

“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth…. She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne… Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” (Rv. 12:1-2,5,17, emphasis added)

‘I have faith, I don’t like to use the word religious!’

In my youth, I glowed with innocence and naiveté in all areas of my life, but none more so than in the area of my Faith. Looking back I was a pretty ignorant and sheltered, unlike most youth I come across on a daily basis.

When I was about twenty  years old I experienced my first ‘rap’ across the knuckles from a fellow Christian. I was baffled by the response, ‘I have faith, I  don’t like to use the word religious!’. All  I ‘d done was share openly that I was religious. No harm in alluding to the fact that I’m a practising Christian who goes to church every Sunday? (What I didn’t know at the time was that others don’t always hide their animosity or distaste towards Catholics.) This was to be my first acquaintance with anti-Catholic innuendo in a social setting, and it was to be my rude awakening to the lack of knowledge that is out there about Catholicism. This comment precipitated a stirring in me which  ignited a ‘Catholic fuse’ which has burned within ever since, fuelling a desire to know more about my Faith and what makes it so special. My naiveté was no more.

One thing I know for sure, and that is without doubt: I am religious because

  • I go to Mass on a Sunday:  For the Jews, the sabbath was Saturday; Because Christians are not actually bound to observe the Sabbath–we have fulfilled the Sabbath through Christ, and now we celebrate the Lord’s Day, Sunday, the day of His Resurrection. Even though the Old Testament sabbath had passed away, the early Church commemorated Christ’s resurrection on Sunday, the first day of the week. By requiring Sunday worship the Church is simply following the lead of the apostles. The Church tells us that we have an obligation to fulfill the Third Commandment by refraining from unnecessary work on Sunday and by participating in the sacrifice of the Mass and receiving Christ in Holy Communion.
  • I ask for forgiveness for my sins during Mass
  • I listen to the Word of God
  • I make a statement of Faith through the recitation of the Creed at Mass
  • I participate in ritual prayer, silent prayer and communal prayer at given times during the Mass
  • I kneel at junctures of the Mass as a sign of my respect and recognition of our Lord and Saviour in the Eucharist and I stand in solidarity with my fellow parishioners at other times
  • I make the sign of the Cross
  • I observe Lent, and celebrate Easter and Christmas
  • I attend Confession/Reconciliation in acknowledgement of my weakness and sinfulness
  • I tithe

I know too that I have Faith because:

  • In times of great sadness and anguish, it is to the Lord that I turn for solace and comfort
  • I seek always to share my Faith through all that I do and the choices that I make
  • I seek God’s hand in everything
  • I am eager to know more about Him by reading , spending time in fellowship with other Christians, reading and studying. This need to know is beautifully accommodated also, by the ebb and flow of the seasons  in the Church’s Calendar
  • I spend time with Him in prayer
  • I try as best I can live my life with Christ at its centre
  • I seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance
  • I know that without God, my life would be meaningless  and shallow

I look back with gratitude to Ruth- my fellow Christian- for saying what she did as it started me on a wonderful journey of discovery. Although I have come a short way and have a long way to go, my beliefs as a Catholic Christian guide my life as I do my best to live the Faith.

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