Tuesday of Third Week of Advent
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
Come and free the prisoners of darkness!
~ The O Antiphon for December 20th
Father Alfred Delp, S.J. aptly wrote two years after I was born about being shaken up, as so many of us feel in our world today, unsettled as we are by political events in our own country at times. He wrote with his hands in shackles in his prison cell in Berlin, just before he was hanged for high treason in 1945, three months before the war ended. His ashes were scattered on the winds; Hitler wanted him forgotten. (His writings were smuggled out of prison.) In a widely published article, The Shaking Reality of Advent, he wrote:
There is nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up.
Where life is firm we need to have a sense of its firmness;
and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, no foundation,
we need to know this too and endure it.
We may ask God why he sent us in this time,
why he has sent this whirlwind on the earth,
why he keeps us in this chaos where all appears hopeless
and dark and why there seems to be no end to this in sight.
I found Father Delp’s message considerably consoling in the light of what our country and our world situation is in at the moment. He goes on . . . .
Here is the message of Advent:
faced with him who is the Last,
the world will begin to shake.
The world today needs people who have been shaken by ultimate calamities and emerged from them with the knowledge and awareness that those who look to the Lord will still be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth. [ . . . . ..]
If we are inwardly unshaken, inwardly incapable of being genuinely shaken,
if we become obstinate and hard and superficial and cheap,
then God will himself intervene in world events and teach us what it means to be placed in this agitation and be stirred inwardly.
Remember, that Father Delp was talking about the disastrous times of war-torn Germany in 1945.
God of mercy and compassion,
our times are very much like the days Father Delp was writing about.
We, too, need to be shaken from our complacency.
Even in recent years, hatred and bullying and fear has increased among our people.
We need you, Lord!
Come among us once again and shake us up to the reality of your justice!
And as the O Antiphon shouts:
Free the prisoners of darkness among us ~
The poor, those imprisoned unjustly, those without healthcare,
the DREAMERS who it looks like will be deported,
and migrants all over the world in search of safe harbor.
And so so many more crying out to us, pleading for mercy and our love.
Come Lord Jesus and do not delay!
And now, before you go, I want to tell you a bit about the ancient O-Antiphons that lead us through the eight days (the octave) to Christmas Eve next Tuesday at Morning and Evening Prayer.
What are the “O” Antiphons?”
They are one of the most cherished collections of our ancient liturgical chants, consisting of seven Antiphons that begin with an embellished “O” that are sung each of the seven nights before Christmas at Vespers. They have beautiful chant melodies. I am using three of them on the next three days before I offer you the Fourth Sunday of Advent and My Christmas blog on Friday.
Here’s the hymn that’s best known as the English translation of the O-Antiphons “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” If you pay attention to the lyrics as the song is sung you’ll hear all seven of the O-Antiphons. Click here.
Here is a web site that has information and recordings of the chant melodies of all seven. (Skip the first half and scroll ALL the way down to the bottom for the O Antiphons themselves. You will notice little speaker signs next to each one. If you click on that little music note it will play for you the actual chant melody for each O Antiphon, if you’re curious about them.
And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.
Alfred Delp, S.J. The Shaking Reality of Advent / translated by the Plough Publishing Company