Readings for Saturday 17 December 2016 (Third Week of Advent)
Gn 49:2, 8-10. Ps 71:1-4, 7-8, 17, R/ cf v 7. Mt 1:1-17. www.catholicbishops.ie/readings.
The “O” Antiphons – O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, December 17-23, with December 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil.
The exact origin of the O Antiphons is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the O Antiphons was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, Keep your O and The Great O Antiphons were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the O Antiphons have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.
The importance of O Antiphons is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.
Today we focus on the first of the seven O Antiphons – O Sapientia (O Wisdom).
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
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.
Click here to listen to O Sapientia
Advent Thought for the Day
Each day during Advent we are bringing you an audio Thought for the Day Today. Today’s Thought for the Day is from Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer with the Catholic Communications Office. In this piece Brenda reflects on being part of a special centenary pilgrimage to sites significant to the Battle of the Somme and on the story of Father Donal O’Sullivan who gave his life on the battlefield at the service of others.
Click below to listen to the audio.
The Words of Pope Francis
Christians should look to the “great” John the Baptist as a model of humble witness to Jesus, as one who denies himself, even to the point of death, in order to point out the coming of the Son of God. That was Pope Francis’ message, during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on 16 December, to Bishops and religious celebrating the 50th anniversary of their ordination, and to married couples celebrating the 50th anniversary of their wedding vows.
John the Baptist, the witness who points to Christ
The Church’s liturgy turns once again, as it has in the past two days, to the figure of St John the Baptist, presented in the Gospel as the “witness.” His vocation, the Pope explained in his homily, is “to give witness to Jesus,” “to point out Jesus,” like a lamp with respect to the light:
A lamp that points out where the light is, that bears witness to the light. He was the voice. He said of himself: “I am the voice that cries out in the desert.” He was the voice but that bears witness to the Word, points out the Word, the Word of God, the Word. He was only the voice. The Word. He was the preacher of penitence who baptized, the Baptist, but he makes it clear, he says clearly: “After me comes another who is mightier than I, who is greater than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. And He will baptize you in fire and the Holy Spirit.”
The humility of John, his self-annihilation is a model for Christians
John, then, is the “place-holder who points out the definitive figure”; and the definitive figure is Jesus. This, the Pope said, “is his greatness,” which was demonstrated each time the people and the doctors of the law asked him whether or not he was the Messiah, and he clearly responded, “I am not he”:
And this provisional but certain, strong testimony; that torch that was not put out by the wind of vanity; that voice that was not diminished by the force of pride; always becomes one that indicates the other and opens the gate to the other testimony, that of the Father, that which Jesus speaks of today: “But I have a testimony greater than that of John: that of the Father. And John the Baptist opens the gate to this testimony.” And the voice of the Father is heard: “This is my Son.” It was for John to open this gate. And this John was great, always left aside.
John is humble, he “annihilates himself,” the Pope emphasized once again, he takes the same road that Jesus would take later, that “of emptying himself.” And it will be thus until the end: “in the darkness of a cell, in prison, beheaded because of the whim of a dancing girl, the envy of an adulteress, the weakness of a drunkard.” If we have to paint a portrait, Francis is of the mind that “this alone is how we must depict it.” This is an image that the Pope then offered to the faithful present, including religious and bishops celebrating their jubilees, and married couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversaries.
Christians by their lives should open the road to Jesus
It is a beautiful day to question ourselves about our own Christian life, if our own Christian life has always opened the road to Jesus, if our own life was full of this act: pointing out Jesus. Giving thanks for the many times that they did it, giving thanks and beginning anew, after the fiftieth anniversary, with this aged youth or this youthful age – like the good wine! – taking a step forward in order to continue to be witnesses of Jesus. May John, the great witness, help you in this new path that you are beginning today, after the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary, of priesthood, of consecrated life, and of matrimony.
16 December 2016
Pope Francis on Twitter
“Let us learn from the Virgin Mary how to be bolder in obeying the word of God.” – @Pontifex
Choose Life: Prayer for the Child in the Womb
Lord Jesus, you are the source and lover of life.
Reawaken in us respect for every human life.
Help us to see in each child the marvellous
work of our Creator.
Open our hearts to welcome every child as a
unique and wonderful gift.
Guide the work of doctors, nurses and
May the life of a mother and her baby in the
womb be equally cherished and respected.
Help those who make our laws to uphold the
uniqueness and sacredness of every human life,
from the first moment of conception to natural
Give us wisdom and generosity to build a
society that cares for all.
Together with Mary, your Mother,
in whose womb you took on our human
Help us to choose life in every decision we
We ask this in the joyful hope of eternal life
with you, and in the communion of the
Our Lady of Knock, pray for us.
All the Saints of Ireland, pray for us.
Advent Prayer Intentions
1. For all priests;
that their words and deeds may provide an example
of faithful discipleship and
be a source of encouragement to others.
2. For all our relatives and friends who have died;
that they may become one with Christ
in the kingdom of heaven.
The Meaning in the Shadows
This little child, his words, his life and his death,
is God communicating to you how much you are
This little child reveals a God whose love for you
is so great that neither your mind nor even your
unlimited imagination, can grasp how much you
This little child reveals a love which from the moment
you were created, is God’s gift to you for
life and for eternity.
Father Peter McVerry SJ The Meaning in the Shadows, Veritas, 2003.
Behold a Virgin Bearing Him
Behold a virgin bearing him Who comes to save us from our sin; The prophets cry: prepare his way! Make straight his paths to Christmas Day.
Behold our Hope and Life and Light, The promise of the holy night; We lift our prayer and bend our knee To his great love and majesty
Click here to listen to this beautiful hymn about Mary.