O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, who opens and no human shuts, who shuts and no human opens: come, and bring forth the captives from their prison, they who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
December 17 – Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)
I can do it.
Me and Rosie the Riveter. And a couple dozen close friends.
I can do things I didn't think I could. I can stand up when I want to lie down with the covers over my head. I can smile when I want to scream. I can walk ahead.
If you'd asked me before this year, I'd have said I could do all those things. But this year presented some specific challenges that I'd never anticipated, and I had to step up in ways I never knew would be presented to me. I guess that's how life goes, right?
Going forward...my life will include even more challenges and changes. I have some that I am aware of. And, oh, I bet there are some surprises out there, too.
I want to hold on to the awareness of this strength, some of which came from me and from God, and much of which came from the loving support of friends. Without you, I'm nothing.
1) I think my earliest Christmas memory is Christmas Eve, of Bill, Sarah, Nancy and me all wearing pajamas and sitting on the living room floor in front of the Christmas tree. There's a picture of all of us grinning at the camera like monkeys...I was about four, I think. What I remember aside from the picture is Bill giggling with glee, holding his feet and rolling on his back like a hoop, and saying "SandyClaws is coming tonight!"
2) My dining room table. I'm not sure when my mother took ownership of that furniture, but it was before I can remember. It and the chairs were built by my great-grandfather; it's a gorgeous piece and I love it.Today while wrapping some gifts, I realized that this dining table is the only place I remember wrapping gifts throughout my childhood and until I left home...and then it came to live with me about 6 years ago. I imagine my mom continued to use it for that in the interim years. Think of all the years of wrapping that entails...all the gifts bought with love and excitement and anticipation.
3) My younger sister got married in May of 1989, and that year she and her new husband didn't come to our home for Christmas. I can't remember what they did, actually, but I do remember that Nancy's absence left a ragged hole in what had been our family of four. It is natural, it is life, it is what happens...but I remember a sense of loss and confusion on that Christmas morning. (you makin' me cry)...
These two dogs have introduced me to what it means to love a canine. I can't imagine my life without them. When we went to pick up Josie on Christmas Eve, she was SO tiny. Brandon wanted to hold her (in the backseat) and I let him. He whispered to her all the way home from East Texas where we'd gone to meet the breeder. That night, I put her in a crate by my bed, determined! to crate train that dog from the beginning! Yeah, right. She cried for a few minutes and I brought her into bed with us.
At about 3 am, Brandon came knocking at our door! Ken said, "what do you want?" Brandon said, "It's Christmas!" Ken said, "It's too early! Go back to bed!" Brandon said, "But I want to see the puppy!" Well, so he came and got in bed with us (one of the only times) and all four of us slept together the rest of that night. When he woke up, Ken went poking around in the bed to make sure neither of us had rolled over on the dog...but she was fine!
5) No list of Christmas memories could be complete without Christmas Eve services at church (every, every, every year), and singing in the choir. Once we were in junior high school and beyond, we always went to midnight Masses. Beautiful...darkened sanctuary, and the light spreading from candle to candle as "Silent Night" is sung.
6) Just one more! My mom had a record album called "Organ and Chimes by Robert Rheims" and the record is RED, oh my gosh, it was the coolest thing ever. I loved putting that on my mom's stereo and listening to it...so cool. I need to get it copied to CD or mp3 format because I haven't been able to listen to it in years. You can buy the one pictured below on Etsy, if you would like...
Merry Christmas Past and Present! Veni, veni Emmanuel.
The O Antiphons developed during the Church's very first centuries. The writer Boethius (+525) mentions them. By the 8th century they were in use in Rome. There are seven of these special antiphons, and their texts spring from the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures, the Prophetic and Wisdom Books. They are found in the Liturgy of the Hours or older Roman Breviary, which clerics, religious, consecrated virgins, and others use for daily prayer.
The O Antiphons are short prayers sung before and after the Magnificat, the great prayer of Mary in Luke 1:46-55 when coming visit to Elizabeth her cousin the Virgin praised God for His favor wondrous deeds. The Magnificat is sung during Vespers, evening prayer. The O Antiphons begin on 17 December, seven days before the Vigil of Christmas (24 December). The seventh and last antiphon is sung at Vespers on 23 December. They are called the "O Antiphons" because they all begin with the letter-word "O": they address Jesus by one of His Old Testament titles. They are fervent prayers asking Our Lord to come to us.
Advent is about the many ways in which the Lord comes. He came historically at Bethlehem in the fullness of time. In the liturgical year he comes to us sacramentally. He will come again at the end of the world as Judge of the living and the dead. Christ comes to us also in the two-fold consecration of the Body and Blood of Christ by the priest at Holy Mass and, in a special way in a good Holy Communion. He comes in the person of the priest, who is alter Christus, another Christ. He comes in the words of Holy Scripture. He also comes in the person of our neighbor, especially those who are in need of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
During Advent, John the Baptist has been reminding us in the liturgy to "make straight His paths". When we come to the Lord in death, or He comes to us in His Second Coming, He will make straight the path whether we have during our earthly lives done our best to straighten it ahead of time or not. Let us now, while we may, make straight the paths by which Christ Jesus comes.
Here are two more interesting notes about these O Antiphons.
The first is not apparent in English, but it can be seen clearly in the official language of the Roman Catholic Church: Latin. The Latin versions of each of the titles of the Messiah are: Sapientia (Wisdom), Adonai (Lord), Radix (Root), Clavis (Key), Oriens (Dawn), Rex (King), and Emmanuel (Emmanuel). Take the first letters of each of the titles, starting with the last and working back to the first. You spell: EROCRAS or "ero cras... I will be (there) tomorrow".
The song "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is simply a reworking of the seven O Antiphons. When you sing it, you are joining yourself to a vast throng of Christians stretching back across centuries and spanning the whole of the earth who prayed as all Christians do, "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20)
Each day's post that follows on my blog includes the printed music for the chant for the day. You can hear the tunes by clicking on the mp3 link for that day at Fr. Z's site.