O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expectation and Savior of the nations! come and save us, O Lord our God!Fr. Mark's commentary is here:
O Virgo Virginum
O Virgo Virginum, the last of the Great O Antiphons in the old English liturgy of Sarum , occurs on December 23rd. Its structure is quite different from all the other Great O Antiphons. The first part is a question addressed to the Virgin Mary; in the second part she replies with another question, and then, gives her answer.
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?Here, at Silverstream Priory, since December 17th, we have been singing O Virgo Virginum as the Marian Antiphon at the end of Vespers.
For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?
That which ye behold is a divine mystery.
Like the six Great O Antiphons that preceded it, O Emmanuel is addressed to our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems to me that, with each succeeding day, the O of our invocation, and the Veni of our supplication has grown more confident, more intense and, in a sense, more urgent.
Afraid Never Again
Writing in 1964, Mother Marie des Douleurs Wrotnowska, the foundress of the Congregation of Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, offers us a somewhat anguished meditation on the Great Antiphon O Emmanuel. It appears to come out of an experience of weakness, fear, and uncertainty. Some would dismiss it as deeply pessimistic and too gloomy for Advent. I sense something else in it: the prayer of woman wrestling with her inner demons, as we all do, and confident nonetheless in the mystery of God-with-us. This is what she wrote:
Emmanuel. Could we have found a name more sweet? God-with-us. That is to say that nothing in our difficulties, our misunderstandings, our sorrows, even in our agony, will find us alone. We will always have Someone with us, Someone present in our very heart to give the strength and light necessary in those moments.Also, at the same time, our Beloved is always before us. He is the All-Powerful and He wants that we should be saints, all of us. Therefore, we never again need to be afraid. We can be certain that, should it be called for, even heroism is within our reach because our Companion on the road, our daily Food, is always there. We know that He is in us and we know what He asks of us. We know to what degree of detachment and to what gift of self He calls us. We know to what point we must be found holy at the moment of our death.(Read more.)
Now all is fulfilled....Ecce completa sunt omnia....(Lauds of December 23)
(Artwork courtesy of Micki)