I love the final lead ups to season changes. Whether it be Holy Week, Or the Novena to the Holy Spirit for Pentecost. My favorite without a doubt though has to be the Ember days leading up to Christmas in the Latin rite Church, where beginning at Vespers, the “O Antiphons” are chanted.
These antiphons are where the hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel” originates, from the text of these antiphons. Just like the hymn envokes a spirit of Joy and anticipation, so too, the antiphons show us in small pieces… Who we are welcoming. Each on embodies a different aspect of the Word made flesh, either in an abstract reference, or a more concrete reference
- 17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
- 18 December: O Adonai (O Lord)
- 19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
- 20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
- 21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
- 22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
- 23 December: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)
Today, at sundown (technically) – When Vespers are able to begin, we will chant the first O antiphon.
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,attingens a fine usque ad finem,fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
Or the English:O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,reaching from one end to the other,mightily and sweetly ordering all things:Come and teach us the way of prudence.
This reference is important on another level, in that today’s chant, also highlights the prophetic words of the Prophet Isaiah
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord “
There is no better hint at the Perfection of Jesus Christ, then this verse. One who delights in something has abandoned (rather deliriously) all reason, and is fixated on that concept or person. We human beings are incredibly flawed. Something always gets in our way. This is why we needed a Messiah, and not just God the Father to come down, but someone tangible, and like us in everything except sin. Jesus in his very nature is able to delight
This perfection points us to our perfection, which ultimately begins with Wisdom, which for the rest of us is a Grace that can be obtained and lost, but for He who comes, is embodied in his very fiber of being. This Wisdom will shake the nations, and right the world.
If there is something we can foolishly attempt to grasp, its something simple – There is a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Most of us know who Jesus is, based off of facts and figures. Either we had as cradle catholics, catechism beat into our heads, or if we are converts we might even have what one friend refers to as a “Canned Christianity”, that being… readily witnessing with phrases that all the cool kids are saying.
To truly know the face of God… is way deeper then any knowledge we can profess though. True Wisdom penetrates us , and envelopes us, and that wisdom is what invites us into a deeper knowledge of God. That Wisdom is the Word made flesh.