Day 20: Friday 22 December 2017


Readings for Friday 22 December 2017 (Third Week of Advent) 
1 Sm 1:24-28. Ps 1 Sam 2:1, 4-8, R/ v 1. Lk 1:46-56.

The O Antiphons 

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 sayings. We might 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.

Click here to listen to O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations).

Audio: Advent Thought for the Day

Each day during Advent we are bringing you an audio Thought for the Day on a different theme. Today’s Thought for the Day is from Tom Long, a primary school student from Dunboyne, Co Meath. Tom shares two short pieces about Advent from Grow in Love. Click below to listen to the audio:

Advent is a time to wait 

Prepare, Prepare 

Pope Francis believes that in a world where humanity is often wounded, mistreated, and dominated by a lack of love, the family is the “yes” of God as Love. In spite of all the pressures and difficulties it faces, Pope Francis believes that the family is still good news for today’s world.

In 2016, he wrote Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), a document about love, marriage and family life, and now he has given Ireland a special responsibility. He has asked Ireland to host the World Meeting of Families in 2018 and to prepare for that event by offering families, parishes and groups a way of thinking about and sharing his message in The Joy of Love: that the Gospel of the Family continues to be a Joy for the World.  

The Amoris: Let’s Talk Family! Let’s Be Family! programme is a response to Pope Francis’ request. The programme aims to support families and parishes as we set out on the journey of preparation to the World Meeting of Families, taking place in Dublin from 21st to 26th August 2018, and to continue that journey in the years ahead. 

During Advent we are reflecting on some of the themes from Amoris Laetitia as well as inviting you to ‘Let’s Talk Family! Let’s Be Family During Advent’. We are also offering reflections, a thought for the day, and suggesting practical ways we can be family wherever we are. These include daily random acts of kindness, charity and love that families, groups, school classrooms and parishes can take on during Advent. 

Let’s Talk Family – Thought for the Day 

Our family thought for the day for today is from Pope Francis. Please feel free to save this image and to share it across your social media pages. 

Let’s Talk Family – Pope Francis 

In response to a question ‘why do children suffer?’, Pope Francis said,  “I do not have the answer”.  Not even Jesus had an answer to this question.  But Jesus, he said, shows us the way to give meaning to our human experience; he himself suffered offering his own life for our salvation. All we can do, the Pope said, is to be close to the child who suffers, cry with him, pray with him, look to the crucified Jesus. 

Pope Francis also also urged Christians searching for a balm for those who are close to those who suffer never to neglect the value of gratitude and to always say ‘thank you’.

“To say thank you is a medicine against bouts of hopelessness, which is a contagious ailment” he said.

To say thank you is to nurture hope, the Pope continued, and hope is the ‘fuel’ of Christian life that allows us to go forward every day.

Let’s Be Family – Random Act of Kindness 

Do something to help someone who is feeling poorly in your family or someone who is sick in hospital. 

Let’s Be Family – Act of Charity 

Support families in need this Christmas. Give what you can to local parish food banks. 

Let’s Be Family – Our Prayer Intentions for the Day to Pray Together as a Family

1. We pray for our Church;
that it will preach faith to all nations
in honour of Jesus’ name.

2. We pray for those who are travelling
at this time of year;
that they will arrive safely
to their destination.

An Advent Family Prayer
Loving God,
as your light grows in the dark of winter,
brings its gifts of hope, peace, joy and love to our world.
Just as you sent the star of Bethlehem to lead the way to your Son,
guide us to follow your ways of justice and peace.
As we remember the journey of Mary and Joseph,
may the Holy Family be a source of courage for our family,
inspiring us to read out in friendship to all those in need.
Help us to see in the Christ child this Christmas
the one who came to end all divisions.
And may the Lord bless us
and keep us safe today and always.


Blessing of the Christmas Tree in the Home
This blessing can be prayed on the day that
the family puts up the Christmas tree. Once
the lights are ready to be switched on, the
prayer can begin:

All make the Sign of the Cross
A member of the family turns the lights of
the tree on and the blessing is then recited:

Lord our God,
We praise you for the light of creation:
The sun, the moon, and the stars of the
We praise you for the light of Israel:
The Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of
the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of
Who fills us with the wonder of your love.

Lord God,
Let your blessing come upon us as we
illumine this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives us be a sign
of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree come to the
knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Friday Penance
Make a special effort at family prayer. Make the Stations of the Cross. Do something to help the poor, sick or lonely.


christmas music

Advent Music
Concordia Choir singing Wake, Awake, For Night Is Flying. Conductor, Rene Clausen.
From The Concordia Choir -Folk Songs, Spirituals & Hymns CD. Click here to listen.


The IEC provides external links as convenience to our users. The appearance of external links does not constitute endorsement by IEC of the information, products or services contained therein.