O Adonai

In a year I have a new readership base. The O Antiphons are my favorite preparation to Christmas and I wanted to share these short posts I have from previous years. Please check back through the rest of the week for a new reflection each day. Minor edits have been made.

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,

who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

and gave him the law on Sinai:

Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

When we think of God, we don’t often like thinking of the connotation of Master. Lord, I can handle, but Master, is asking a bit too much. Society has often placed before us the desire to be our own master, to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, I’ll do it my way. However, our Master doesn’t truly ask for much. Obedience, service, and compassion seem to top the list. We have the Ten Commandments, the Virtues,  the Catechism, nothing too outrageous, unless it conflicts with what I want.

While there are times when we believe that we are doing the right thing by not helping others or not wanting to interfere with others lives,  Saint Bernard of Clairvaux is quoted as saying “Hell is full of good intentions and desires.” As Catholics, we need to remember a tiny thing called the Sins of Omission, those sins we have committed because of what we did not do. I didn’t correct someone speaking wrongly about the Catholic faith, I didn’t help the person struggling to open the door, I didn’t do what I am called to do under the law.

“The law, the law, the law; laws are subjective and shouldn’t impose beliefs on me.”

I think we can all agree that the Ten Commandments are more than just a great moral code, they are a true gift from God which we have promised to uphold and obey.

The gift of the commandments and of the Law is part of the covenant God sealed with his own. In Exodus, the revelation of the “ten words” is granted between the proposal of the covenant and its conclusion – after the people had committed themselves to “do” all that the Lord had said, and to “obey” it. The Decalogue is never handed on without first recalling the covenant (“The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.”)

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2060

Here’s the truth though, we’re human. Sin and fault is unfortunately part of our lives. We are in need of a redeemer who will guide us and help us on our journey. One that will lead us, guide us, and forgive us when we do stumble and fall.

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O Sapientia

In honor of the O Antiphon’s returning to us again this year I am reposting my reflections on them from last year.

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.

Growing up, I always heard people tell me, “Amanda, you are such a prude.” Meaning, I didn’t want to break the rules, I didn’t want to have fun, I wasn’t the one you trusted when you would divulge your plans to do something illegal. I would sit there and just pick apart those things and think about everything that could, and (knowing my friends) would go wrong. I have no qualms about admitting I was the wet blanket.

But Prudence is also defined as such:

Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; “the prudent man looks where he is going.” “Keep sane and sober for your prayers.” Prudence is “right reason in action,” writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1806

I really enjoy St. Thomas Aquinas’ explanation of “right reason in action.” Not only being the wet blanket, but following through with it. I jest but I am trying to make a point. Prudence is the ability to have the foresight to make the decision and the desire to follow through with it.

Now God, the height of all wisdom, had the sight and ability when he created humanity to keep us wonderfully obedient people, yet He still gave us the gift of free will. God saw that free will could have its problems and had the prudence to know how we could be redeemed. The God who created the universe had a plan.

That plan was to give us the gift of His son, Jesus Christ. I would call that wisdom and prudence indeed.

What Happened to Advent?

I will be the first to admit that I haven’t spent my Advent as eagerly preparing as I should have.  However, this morning I got to thinking, some preparation is better than nothing. I’ve seen the priests at our parish simply scurry and frantically prepare for the events that they have going on and they are truly busy men. But what has happened to Advent?

I have to laugh because I feel like my Advent looks a lot like this.

But this is the truth about Advent (excuse the ad at the end):

In case you didn’t watch the videos, (like I have a tendency to occasionally do on blogs) the first is the Christmas Can Can by Straight No Chaser. It laughs at the secularism before Christmas, like hearing the same Christmas carol 20 times and it’s not even Halloween yet. The second is a brief intro as to what Advent is about, “the cozier, getting your home ready to welcome a special guest,” ie: Jesus.

Now the truth of the matter is, we are getting stressed about Christmas presents, cookie baking, maybe that feel good volunteer trip to the soup kitchen and we are saying that we don’t have time to prepare for anything else. The nice thing is, it’s not too late. This is coming from the person with the huge list, meetings, social events, Christmas program planning, youth events, travel plans, an occasional nap, shopping, wrapping, more meetings, appointments and it goes on and on. I don’t like what I’m becoming and I’m becoming the innkeeper, you know the one who didn’t have room to properly house Joseph and Mary and then a little baby Jesus.

Honestly, I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but myself. I am accountable for my actions and lack there of as well. So as I stop and see that thing are slowing down for me I wonder what do I have that I can prepare with? My mind immediately flashes to the Gospel readings before Advent began; the parables of thieves breaking in or the unprepared virgins, be vigilant, be alert! Well here I am dozing off going “but we don’t know when he’s coming right? A little nap might be nice, that’s preparation too?” The truth is, it’s not.

I don’t know about you but I saw that 3rd candle being lit this weekend and went “whoa, when did that happen? When did we get so far along?” I’ve been guilty of preparing everything but myself. So here we sit, t minus 10 days to Christmas, and I am not ready and I am not prepared, I don’t want it to be Christmas yet. For me that’s a good thing, I know I’m not ready and there is still some time.

Starting on December 17, is a great tradition of the Church. If you have ever sang “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” ever, you have taken part in this great tradition. This tradition is called the “O Antiphons” This is the yearnings of we the people as we anticipate the coming of Christ into our world and our hearts. I am hoping to stay on top of my game and post daily a small reflection on each of these antiphons. Which leaves me with one last question for today:

In this time of business and preparation, will you prepare with me?