Today the Church makes another transition in it's liturgy as we move closer to Christmas. Most Christians are familiar with the Advent song, "O Come O Come Emmanuel." What many don't realize is that the versed are part of evening prayer and are each assigned to one of the last 7 evenings of Advent beginning today.
December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is with Us)
Many in the Spanish speaking world yesterday began their celebration of "Las Posadas" the nine days that commemorate the search of Mary and Joseph for lodging. Their search will end on the eve of the 24 when at the doors of the church they are welcomed.
Our Filipino brothers and sisters developed a similar tradition, a novena of masses celebrated now in the early hours of the morning, which they call "Simbang Gabi." The conclusion retains its Spanish name " Misa del Gallo" (The Mass of the Rooster). The Roman Missal still provides four masses for Christmas: Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, and Christmas Day.
These are but a few of the ways that these last days of Advent are singled out as a time of prayer and special preparation. That Christ may be reborn in us, and the Antiphon "Hodie Christus natus est" Today Christ is born may come not just from our lips but from our hearts when we gather to celebrate Christmas.