I am taking the titles for each of the four weeks of Advent from four reflections that I posted to this blog two years ago: Wondering in Stillness, Walking in the Light, Waiting with Joy, and Working for Justice. I would like to invite you to participate in an Advent retreat/workshop that I am leading at my church. As with the previous two weeks, this is not so much a reflection as an outline of day’s session.
Open with “Emmanuel” (3.44) by Steve Angrisano, 2004, based on the O Antiphons. (You can find a performance by googling the title and composer.)
Come, come, Emmanuel!
Son of God, appear.
Heaven and earth, rejoice!
Salvation is drawing near.
Salvation is drawing near.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
O come, O Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
O come, O Rod of Jesse’s stem;
From ev’ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow’r to save,
And give them vict’ry o’er the grave.
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of humankind;
Make all our sad divisions cease,
And be for us the King of Peace.
After final refrain
shall come to thee, O Israel. (twice)
Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent
Reflect on the readings of the Third Sunday of Advent, taken from Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; Luke 1:46-54; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; and John 1:6-8, 19-28. Following each reading, write a verse that speaks to you today. Here are the ones I chose:
As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. (Luke 1:50)
Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thess. 5:19)
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. (John 1:8)
You may want to consider the reflections of other spiritual writers. We have chosen Waiting in Joyful Hope 2017-2018: Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas by Mary DeTurris Poust (Liturgical Press, 2017) as our main source of reflections. The one for December 17 is called “Little Things Mean a Lot.” In addition, you may want to read Exploring the Sunday Readings by Alice Camille, if you have access to that series.
When we begin to count our blessings, we become more thankful for what we have and more aware of what others don’t have. Suddenly our ordinary moments are ripe for prayer. In line at the grocery store, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, sitting in traffic – all of it is an opportunity for grace to enter in and for our lives to become a prayer . . . What we need to do is recognize the miracles in the mundane, the divine in the everyday, and realize there is always reason to rejoice and give thanks. (Excerpt from DeTurris Poust for December 17, 2017)
The O Antiphons
An antiphon is a chant that precedes and follows a psalm or the Magnificat in the Divine Office. It is also a short prayer included in the Mass, for example, the Entrance Antiphon or the Communion Antiphon. The verse before the Gospel can also be an antiphon, although we tend to call it a Gospel Acclamation. During the week leading up to the Feast of Christmas, the Church prays a series of antiphons that all begin with the letter “O”; hence, O Antiphons. They are prayed as the Gospel Acclamation from December 17 through December 23.
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
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.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
—Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers
According to Benedictine monk Fr. Columba Stewart (Give Us This Day, December 2017):
The series [of O Antiphons] is a catechism in miniature, opening with creation (O Wisdom) and working toward its fulfillment in Christ. Day by day we sing of the key moments in Israel’s love affair with God: their recognition of the Lord who had chosen them (O Adonai/ Lord, Leader of the House of Israel), the blessing of kingship (O Root of Jesse, O Key of David), and the hope of a new anointed one, a ruler for all peoples, whose glory would rise like the dawn (O Morning Star, O King of the Nations). This would be no earthly king, but God-with-us (O Emmanuel).
Waiting with Joy Practices
Start with the word JOY. Write an Advent practice that begins with each letter of the word JOY. Here is an example:
J – Jot down five reasons to be grateful each day this week.
O – Open my heart to neighbors with whom I have disagreed lately.
Y – Yield my position as the center of attention this week.
The Week Ahead
Waiting in Joyful Hope 2017-2018: Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas by Mary DeTurris Poust
Reflection: What is it that we can and should do to prepare in a better way for the coming of Christ?
Catholic Cuisine has a series of recipes to celebrate each of the O Antiphons. Go to www.catholiccuisine.blogspot.com
Close your reflections with a hymn based on the O Antiphons. You may be familiar with “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Consider also:
“Waiting in Silence” by Carey Landry, 2002
“Blessed and Holy” by Bernadette Farrell, 2012
“Christ, Circle Round Us” by Dan Schutte, 1995
“Let the King of Glory Come” by Michael Joncas, 2008
“Come, Lord! Maranatha” by Ricky Manalo, 2006
“Maranatha” by G. Westphal, 1981