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 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.

from the penitential Psalm 51:10-13

We now begin our reflection upon the seven Great O Antiphons of Advent that begin on December 17. 

Note that each Antiphon opens with the exclamation of O! In its wake reverberate the explosion of discovery, the joy of wordlessness, and the silence of awe. Such may have been the experience of the composer of these ancient Antiphons while reflecting upon texts found in the book of Isaiah from which they were drawn.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other,

mightily and sweetly ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

The first O Antiphon addresses the longed-for Messiah as Wisdom, influenced by Isaiah 11:2-3; 28-29.

Such Wisdom is identified with Spirit or the Hebrew word, ruah, meaning breath that first hovered over primeval waters in the book of Genesis. Within this breath emanates all creation, then, as well as now; its intent: harmony, communion, and bountiful joy. It’s always been that way. But sin/separateness has corroded our spiritual faculties and exiled us into one wilderness after another where nothing lives.

Bereft of ultimate meaning, we’ve everything to learn. The Antiphon concludes with a cry for help, in the imperative voice: Come teach … Only with willingness to accept ruah can begin the conversion of heart, critical to our evolving into a new creation. Ensuing dialogue with Him prompts the daily practice of Prudence or its modern equivalent, discernment.

That’s the rub: Discernment requires consciousness to use our Pause button when adhering to ruah’s direction, often contrary to our instinctual wants or demands, but we do it anyway. The desired change does occur.

                       In the shadow of your wings, I will sing your praises, O Lord. Psalm 63:7

 

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