Tuesday, December 20, 2016

O and Ero Cras

I have always loved the Great O Antiphons of Advent and have reflected on them a few times here on this little blogling. They remind me of the door of the dark world being opened shedding a shaft of indescribable light onto the cold night of winter.

However, it seems odd that we still hanker after the dark days of December and January. Snow and ice are deadly; people die of hypothermia; accidents happen; yet we still long for the fabulous White Christmas. The nights are long; people suffer from SAD; the world of work draws the sluggish out of snuggly beds; yet, we love Christmas night. Are we perverse?

Yes, but not in the way we are thinking here! It is the light of Christmas that makes things wonderful. The nights cannot be completely black or else we would see nothing. Ice and snow look lovely as the light glistens off of them, and for a moment we forget about the cold, about any danger or inconvenience and watch how each flake gleams in the half-light. It is the presence of the light that makes the dark bearable.

What of us who have not seen a White Christmas for a long time? What happens when we look out of the window on Christmas morning, and see everything utterly unchanged? Just the same old grey houses, the same old grey road with the same old cars; everything utterly untransformed by the non-event of Christmas Day. It seems that we forget to say O.

Each of the O Antiphons begins with that cry of “O!” It is there to awaken our attention to Christ, not for us to awaken the attention of Christ to us. He is the subject of all the O Antiphons with the exception of the O Virgo Virginum which was added later. It is in this O that our encounter with Christ begins because in saying “O” we have to have stopped, focussed on the subject of the O, and realised its significance and wonder.

Christ bids us approach Him like little children. This is why the school nativity play is so important as it reminds us of the child-like simplicity in which we encounter the One Who Is. We can look at the nativity play and seek children running around in tea-towels and dressing gowns, beating each other up with toy sheep for some hitherto undisclosed misdemeanour; we can see Mary in an adjusted Frozen dress and Joseph unceremoniously picking his nose; we can see the plastic dolly in the crib with a lazy eye and a loose leg. If that’s what we see, then we have forgotten how we can say O.

Or we can lift the veil and see ourselves as the children participating in the Mystery of the Incarnation. We can see our fallible selves twinkle and shine as the light of Christ glistens upon us. We can see our grey streets become the streets of Bethlehem, all full and without room for the blessed infant, yet remembering that the room that has been prepared for Him is in our very hearts and souls. Let us, then, think hard on these O antiphons and remember that

O Sapientia
O Adonai
O Radix Jesse
O Clavis David
O Oriens
O Rex Gentium
O Emannuel

form a backwards acrostic of Ero Cras - “Tomorrow I shall be!” Does this refer to Christ? It might not so appear – He has always been. Yet His birth is in Time so only He has the capacity to say this, unlike we ourselves. Even now, we cannot say, “ero cras!” for our days are as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. Yet, in simple trust, we cling to Christ and through our “O” and sheer love for Him, we can say in Him our “ero cras. Let us make room for “O” and for true Joy to enter our hearts once more in five days’ time.

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