Lord, I never wanted to be separated from You.

The "O" Antiphons of Advent

The Liturgy of the Hours during the Advent season is marked by a peculiarity in the antiphons of the Magnificat in the last seven days before Christmas. The Magnificat or the Canticle of Mary (Luke 1:46-55) is part of the structure of the Evening Prayer or Vespers. Preceeding the Magnificat is an antiphon that serves as a responsory and varies depending on the liturgical season. 

It is interesting to note that the so called “O Antiphons” used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent do not only provide the titles of Christ mentioned in Sacred Scriptures as follows: 
Dec17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom) 
Dec18: O Adonai (O Lord) 
Dec19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) 
Dec20: O Clavis David (O Key of David) 
Dec21: O Oriens (O Radiant Dawn) 
Dec22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations) 
Dec23: O Emmanuel (O God is with Us) 

But also provide an acrostic in Latin when the first letters of the titles are taken backwards. "Ero Cras" which is translated as "Tomorrow, I will come" reveals the true meaning of the promise of Advent and provides a response to our longing. The hymn "O come, O come, Emmanuel" (in Latin, Veni Emmanuel) is a lyrical paraphrase of the "O antiphons".

Prophet Isaiah
All begin with an "O" to signify that they are direct address to the Lord (Vocative case in grammar). In the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church, the Church invokes the Lord. It has the purpose of sanctifying the day. Clergy and religious have a canonical obligation to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as official representatives of the Church (CIC 1174 §1)Other members of the Christian faithful are also earnestly invited to participate in the liturgy of the hours as an action of the Church (CIC 1174 §2). May we be sanctified as we pray and hope for the coming Messiah. 

The importance of the "O Antiphons" is two-fold. First, each one is a title for the Messiah. Secondly, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. Advent encourages us to hold on to the promise that Christ will come back in the fullness of time. It goes beyond the vicissitudes of time.

PAST: We eagerly await for Christmas when we celebrate and long for the day when the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us" ... the first Christmas. 

PRESENT: We eagerly pray that God may remain in our hearts so that we can continue to believe, hope and love as we await for His return. 

FUTURE: We await for His second coming. The season of Advent serves as a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ's return.

Merry Christmas!

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