Saturday, December 21, 2013

Chapter I: Advent - The O Antiphones: Morning Star

The Fifth of the Great O Antiphons
O Morning Star*
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
*Also: Rising Sun or Dayspring
The original Latin:
O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
Once again, Isaiah serves as the inspiration for this O Antiphon:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. 
     Those who lived in the land of the shadow of death, on them the light has shined. -Isaiah 9:2
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
    and Yahweh’s glory has risen on you.
For, behold, darkness will cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but Yahweh will arise on you,
    and his glory shall be seen on you. -Isaiah 60:1-2
And the Prophet Malachi also spoke of the coming Rising Sun:
But to you who fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings. You will go out, and leap like calves of the stall. - Malachi 4:2
Oh, how we desire the coming of the Day! Today's Ember Day is a reminder of St. John the Baptizer's mission to prepare the way of the coming Messiah. If Jesus is the Rising Sun, then St. John is actually the Morning Star, a title given to Venus when she appears in the sky just before daybreak.

We are waiting... still in darkness. But today, we know that Christ is coming in only four short days! We have the light of the Morning Star and the promise of the Dayspring, the Rising Sun!

And we return to the experience of a desire that is more satisfying than any other sort of satisfaction can bring - Joy. Not even Christmas morning, with the lights and chance to finally open the stockings and gifts under the tree (I've been spending the last week with six different children, can you tell?), can compare!

We are so close now, we can almost taste it!

The lyrics from O Come, O Come Emmanuel inspired by this O Antiphon:
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!  

We are still waiting to be cheered, but, not for the last time, the desire to be cheered is now a Joy! Even while today is a day of fasting and repentance, we can smile for the first time in Advent. Death's dark shadows will be put to flight! The gloomy clouds of night will be dispersed! He will draw near, and we will be cheered!

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