Thursday, December 18, 2014


Yesterday the Church began a series called the O Antiphons. Most of us know them best as the verses of the song O Come O Come Emmanuel. What we don't realize is that the verse we sing first is actually the last

These images of Jesus as foretold in the Old Testament begin with
"O Sapientia...veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae"
O Wisdom...Come to teach us the way to prudence.

Jesus is The Wisdom that shows us the way to prudence. Prudence is the Auriga Virtutum, the charioteer of all the other virtues. Aquinas would say the cause, the measure, and form of all the virtues.

Prudence lies in applying the universal principles which we know so well to the concrete situation before us. Prudence is not taking the safest course of action but the most Christian. The prudential judgment may in fact lead us to suffer. Prudence distinguishes the true Christian from the mere hypocrite.

Jesus is the Wisdom of God incarnate. His every choice was the prudent one, including the choice to die for the salvation of the world.

Today we add:
O Adonai et dux Domus Israel...veni ad redmendum nos in bracchio extento.
O Adonai and Lord of the House of Israel...come to redeem us with outstretched arm.

Adonai- is the Hebrew word Lord used in prayer instead of pronouncing the name of God (YHWH). In the Greek Translation of the Old Testament it was rendered as Kyrios. Only recently did Christians take up pronouncing it Yaweh, which can only be a guess. Since no one ever pronounced it, no one can possibly be sure how it should be pronounced.

Thankfully in 2008 the Church reiterated that we were to return to the ancient tradition and substitute Lord. We don't try and pronounce the name of God any more than I would have called my parents John or Marcia. Call me old fashioned but signs of respect are important.

The key to the image is that it is God who stretches out his arm to us. God makes the first move always. God is constantly reaching out ready to save us if we will be grab hold and hang on. A hurricane may be swirling around us, but if we just hold on to that outstretched arm. He is Adonai, Kyrios, Dux, Lord, SeƱor of the entire universe. Nothing can wrench us from his grasp. Nothing can overwhelm us if we are holding on to him.