Come, Lord Jesus 1 December, 2008
ANNOUNCEMENT. The recession is causing a delay in the production of the Fall 2008 issue of Second Spring (issue 11). It will be printed and mailed as soon as possible in the new year. We apologise to our readers. Subscriptions will, of course, be carried forward, and we hope to resume production early in 2009. Watch for further announcements. — S.C./Thomas More College
THOUGHTS ON CHRISTMAS
First and foremost, the Nativity is simply a birth, which is the bringing forth of the secret that Mary has cherished within her for nine months – the face that God has fashioned for himself in the womb of the world. This is nothing less than a re-making of the world, for the world as it existed before was perishing, falling into nothingness, whereas now it is united through this tiny child with the divine life of the Trinity.
Into relation with this child all people and things are being drawn, and in this relationship they will pass through death into a new existence. The seed of this life began to grow in the earth’s soil at the Annunciation, but now it shows itself above ground, at Epiphany it will be acknowledged by the Wise, and on the Cross it will spread its branches over the earth. In the image of Madonna and Child is represented the drama of the human personality, coming to birth in the meeting of two gazes and of two smiles, the mother’s smile kindling the child’s, the child’s spontaneous smile evoking this sign of love from the enfolding cosmos. The Mother here is the purely human, the Child is God. It is Joseph’s mission to protect and raise this Child, which means first of all to shelter the Mother who is the Child’s first home. Icons of the Nativity show him weary, perhaps doubting his fitness for the task, puzzling over God’s plan. He is appointed to represent the heavenly Father and become an Icon of the Invisible.
[Extract from the meditations on the Rosary in the Mystagogy section. The illustration by Daniel Mitsui is from http://danielmitsui.tripod.com/artwork/religious.html]
For my latest Godspy blog, see After the Disaster. — S.C.
The illustration is borrowed from http://vultus.stblogs.org/
This is the season in which Christians look forward to the birth of Christ celebrated at Christmas, and to his second coming at the end of time. Christ has already come, but — until we are saints — he has not yet come in us. We have still to catch up with what has happened, and the Church’s calendar is a great help in doing this. Let us treat the stories of Advent as descriptions of what should be happening in us. Christ has been conceived and is growing in the womb. His life has been growing in us since our baptism. At the feast of the Annunciation on 25 of March, nine months before Christmas, we attempted to “catch up” with this fact, and to share in the receptivity of Mary as she welcomed God into her body. As the day of his birth approaches, the Holy Family heads toward the City of David to be counted by Caesar. The world around us is being numbered and measured. Our lives are controlled and watched. Yet under the watchful eyes of the security cameras, a new freedom is preparing to be born, something measureless that cannot be seen, except on its own terms, in its own good time.
The O Antiphons
The Church’s evening prayer includes the Magnificat of the Virgin Mary. This is always preceded by a short verse or “antiphon” linking the prayer to the feast of the day or the season of the year, and in the last seven days of Advent each of these antiphons begins with the exclamation “O” and ends with a plea for the Messiah to come. As Christmas approaches these antiphons can be a fruitful subject for meditation.
O Sapientia Altissimi, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Highest Wisdom, firmly and sweetly arranging all things:
come to teach us the way of prudence.
O Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in bracchio extento.
O Lord of the house of Israël, who gave Moses the Law on Sinai,
come to redeem us with outstretched arm.
O Radix Iesse, stans in signum populorum: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign for the people,
come to set us free, tarry no longer.
O Clavis David, qui aperis portas aeterni Regni: veni et educ vinctum de domo carceris sedentem in tenebris.
O Key of David, who opens the doors of the eternal kingdom,
come to the one seated in darkness and lead him from the prison-house.
O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae et sol iustitiae: veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.
O Dawn, splendor of eternal light and sun of justice,
come and shine on those seated in darkness and the shadow of death.
O Rex gentium et lapis angularis Ecclesiae: veni et salva hominem quem de limo formasti.
O King of the Nations, and keystone of the Church,
come and save mankind, whom you shaped from the mud.
O Emmanuel, rex et legifer noster: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver,
come to save us, Lord our God.
For more on the Antiphons, see www.chiesa.