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Advent Reflection

In the monastery, the fourth week of Advent is a very special week. At our evening prayer on Saturday, we began to say the O Antiphons. An antiphon is a verse that gives emphases to what follows, such as a prayer, Scripture or canticle. The Church has prayed the O Antiphons prior to the Magnificat at evening prayer in the week leading up to Christmas for about 1,500 years. We are more familiar with them as the verses to the Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

The O Antiphons are a meditation on the great mystery of love that we celebrate each Christmas. Using the strong imperative “O Come” indicates our longing for Christ. We don’t say “Please come if you have time!”

In the O Antiphons, we also recognize our need for God. Reflecting on all the different titles of the Messiah gives us an awareness of the mystery of Christmas – how wonderful that Wisdom, the Lord, the Root of Jesse, the Key of David, the Dayspring from on High, the King of the Nations should choose out of love to dwell with us and stay with us always. There has been no greater love!

Sister Joan Marie Stelman, OSB, senior vice president, Mission Integration