One of the joys of Advent’s final days is the praying of the O Antiphons, seven eloquent prayers based on biblical images suggesting attributes of the divine. Liturgically, they begin and end the Magnificat at Vespers from December 17th to December 23rd, but they are also a rich resource for personal prayer as Christmas draws near. Each antiphon is both a greeting and a supplication, awakening our attention and shaping our intention.
Over the next seven evenings, I will post a brief reflection on the Antiphon for the coming day.
As you journey to Bethlehem, may you walk in beauty.
you are the truth of harmonious form,
the pattern of existence, the shapeliness of love.
Come: illumine us, enable us, empower us
to live in your Wisdom, your Torah, your Way.
The life of faith is not an invention of our own. Rather, we are invented by the Creator, invented by Love. There is a pattern that preexists us, a pattern born of divine love and woven into the structure of the universe. Sophia (wisdom), Torah (teaching), and Tao (principle) are ancient words for this pattern.
Holy Wisdom is like a dance. If we are attentive to the music, and surrender ourselves to its rhythms, we will be caught up in the divine choreography. It is what we were made for. If we fight the pattern, we get out of step, and our bodies, our souls, and our societies become awkward and clumsy.
But do not be discouraged. Sophia is a patient and gentle teacher. Call upon her, and she will guide your feet into the way of peace.
The Antiphons are probably my very favorite seasonal prayers. Here’s a poem I wrote about Sophia a couple of years ago:
O Come, Sophia,
encircle us with your long arms,
convict us with your smile.
Teach us to watch the fox
and the owl; show us the terror
of the rabbit and the vole.
Frosted grass blackens
under our heavy feet.
Show us a gentler way.
Mary, a belated thanks for your beautiful Sophia poem. “Show us a gentler way” is the perfect prayer for 2020.