Tag Archives: O Antiphons

O Radiant Dawn!


By Matt Keppel

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.

I remember when I was a kid, my friends, my sisters, and I used to play in my parents’ basement. Everything would be fine until someone turned off the light. It would be this point that someone would run and get hurt or freak out. Okay, I would freak out. Have you ever seen The Amityville Horror? Not the shoddy remake, but the horrific original. The one with the blood flowing down the stairs and the evil well underneath the basement stairs? I saw it once… when I was 6. It has haunted me ever since. When those lights went off and I was stuck in the basement, those scenes came flashing back. The darkness has that tendency: to dredge up our deepest, darkest fears. It is no wonder really. What was once well defined through illumination is now overshadowed by infinite possibility. With no point of reference, our imaginations run wild with fear in the driver seat. Yet, the mystery of darkness is more than a place of immobilizing fear, rather a place fluid with possibility. While we wait for the light to break the darkness, we often panic doing whatever we can to protect ourselves. Some people run, trying to escape, others tremble in fear doing what they can to hide from something that penetrates our deepest self.  Yet as much as it is a place of fear and unknowing, it is even more a place of opportunity. Despite what our eyes tell us, much can happen in the shadows.

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O Antiphons: O Dawn! O Oriens!


By Tom Palanza, Jr.

The recent release of the third “Hobbit” movie put me into a Tolkien mood and the recent close of the academic year gives me more time to think about my love of Tolkien again.  So, of course, I could not help but use a favorite scene of mine from the Two Towers in my reflection on the antiphon of the day.  Towards the end of the battle of Helm’s Deep, after a long, cold, rainy night of fighting for their lives, defending themselves and their families from a massive, swarming army of human sized goblins (Uruk-hai) hell-bent on slaughtering them all, Aragorn, the long awaited king of men, pauses from the battle.

At last, Aragorn stood above the great gates, heedless of the darts of the enemy.  As he looked forth he saw the eastern sky grow pale.  Then he raised his empty hand, palm outward in token of parley.

“What are you doing here?” they answered.  “Why do you look out?  Do you wish to see the greatness of our army?  We are the fighting Uruk-hai.”

“I looked out to see the dawn,” said Aragorn.

“What of the dawn?” they peered.  “We are the Uruk-hai: we do not stop the fight for night or day, for fair weather or for storm.  We come to kill, by sun or moon.  What of the dawn?”

“None knows what the new day shall bring him,” said Aragorn.  “Get you gone, ere it turn to your evil.”

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O Antiphons Day 3: O Radix Jesse (A Day Late)


By Claire Bordelon

When meeting someone for the first time, it’s fairly common practice for Louisianians to ask, “who’s your mama?” In fact, there’s a pretty successful line of cookbooks centered on that very theme, for those of you who are interested. What then proceeds is usually a litany of last names, hometowns, and a catalogue of marriages and births that have taken place, to which someone inevitably responds that yes, they see the family resemblance: “you have your mama’s eyes,” or “that’s the [insert family name] nose, right there.”

I mention this particular quirk of Louisiana because it stands so clearly aligned with today’s O Antiphon, O Radix Jesse, which focuses on this same notion of familial relation, Christ’s lineage, and our own inheritance as a community of faithful:

O Root of Jesse, who standest as the ensign of the people, before whom kings shall not open their lips; to whom the Gentiles shall pray: come and deliver us, tarry now no more.

The reference to Isaiah’s prophecy that “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (11:1) draws our minds back to our own rootedness in Christ. But what family resemblance can we, the often wayward adopted sons and daughters, hope to share with Christ and his lineage? As unlikely as it may seem, that is precisely what constitutes much of our spiritual journeys toward or away from God. This is an especially important meditation to make at this moment in the Liturgical Year; as we await Christ, we are called to reflect upon the ways that our spiritual countenances resemble (or fail to resemble) Christ’s. Faith, hope, and charity are the components of our family tree, those traces of an ancestral face made present again through our devotion to Christ.

The good news is that just as having your mama’s eyes is likely to get you invited over for dinner, our spiritual resemblance to Christ initiates us into an even more perfect and joyful Heavenly Banquet. I just hope there’s gumbo.

O Antiphons, Day 2: O Adonai


By Javier Soegaard

Adonai is a name that seems to have fallen out of fashion. Whenever I hear it, I am generally hearing a mediocre sermon about different Hebrew names for God…that or I’m listening to a woefully bad praise & worship song.

As far as Hebrew names are concerned, people are much more mystified by the “I am who I am” name God reveals to Moses, a name so sacred that many refuse to utter it. In the world of pop-Christianity names like Sustainer, Holy Mystery, and Father-God have made some headway, each an indication that personal history and culture shape the experience of naming God.

However, today’s O Antiphon, “O Adonai” tells us something even more marvelous and more sociologically stunning. Its text reads:

O Adonai and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

 Imagine yourself for a moment as one the monks charged with writing these antiphons. Your friend Brother Jerome wrote a beautiful antiphon yesterday about Jesus as Sapientia, the Holy Wisdom of God. The annoying and over-achieving Brother Vincent has already shown you his antiphon for tomorrow, celebrating Jesus as Radix Jesse, the root of Jesse. Like Jerome and Vincent, you are in awe of the imagery of the Old Testament, captivated by the many ways Jesus is prefigured and spoken of; you want to share this fascination with your whole community. You want them enter into the richness of the history, the law, and the story of God’s unfailing mercy.

So how do you do it?

You use the language.

You don’t just pick a symbol or a concept. You choose the very word through which people have been praising God for thousands of years. You don’t translate it to Lord or God. You let them pray with a word Jesus himself would have used, a word that Mary would have used, that Moses, David, Isaiah, or one of the Twelve would have used. You don’t just tell them about the story, you remind them they are part of it.

As we come to the end of the Advent season and the beginning of Christmas, let us again give thanks that we are not just part of some ethical society or business fraternity.  We are part of a history, a family of faith not united by our blood but by our common prayer to the God who is our Savior, the helpless child in a manger who is our Adonai.

O Wisdom, O Holy Word of God


By Brian Niemiec

We made it! The last countdown for Christmas begins today with the first “O” Antiphon. “O wisdom, O holy word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet gentle care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” Wisdom has been used as an image for God throughout scripture, and for me it is something that I really struggle with.

Have you ever taken one of those personality tests? Myers Briggs, Enneagram, etc…? My office took the Strengths Finders test last year, and of the 35 options my number one strength was self-assurance. At this point I don’t remember what the book explained it as, but I know that I often thing I have the right ideas, tools, and experiences to solve and fix most problems that come-up in my life. In all honesty, I sometimes have a hard time discerning between self-assurance and arrogance.

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