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Will you also leave me? – John 6: 67

Before we ponder the “O” Antiphons during the days before Christmas, let us reflect upon their author, Isaiah, the prophet of the Holiness of God.

Well educated, knowledgeable of his times, familiar with intricacies of the Hebrew language and the prophetic tradition, gifted in public speaking, familiar with royalty and the court, Isaiah was a pious man, husband and father. The year was 740 B.C.E.

While Isaiah was serving in the Temple, the vision of six burning ones, called seraphs, terrified him: he knew he was in the presence of Yahweh. He also knew what was coming: the call to become a prophet, but only with his assent. It had happened to others. Yet uncleanness sifted his hard-won virtue into soot.

The story continues: one of the seraphs took a pair of tongs, scooped up a burning coal from the brazier, touched Isaiah’s lips, then said, …your iniquity is purged.  

Then came the question from within the smoke: Whom shall I send? Who will be my messenger?

With no hesitation, Isaiah said, Here I am. Send me. Others had received such callings to guide His wayward people into the way of love and obedience, according to the Mosaic Law. He would, too.

And work Isaiah did until his martyrdom under the idolatrous Judean King Manasseh, forty years later.

Yet, because Isaiah’s person and preaching were so compelling, devotees continued his prophecy, adding sixteen more chapters to the Old Testament Book that bears his name.

From this lowly prophet Isaiah—an unparalleled witness to the Holy—we savor the names of God embedded in the Great “O” Antiphons of Advent. Their inspiration lightens the darkness.

“After I told her goodbye and was preparing to leave her bedside, I felt her gaze and turned around. It was her eyes—always a lovely blue—but these were different—never have I seen the like,” so said her old friend, her voice quivering. “She was a blessing, both for herself and for me.”

A member of the teaching community of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, she had devoted the last five years of her life preparing for her dying and self-publishing her findings in the booklet, When Threads Wear Thin–Souls Stirring of an Octogenarian (2019). Written with humility and simplicity, it reflects her passion for her God with whom she had spent her vowed life, often in positions of leadership. Especially was this true in the wake of the Vatican II reforms that stressed all religious communities to the max.

The bibliography also reflects her interest in like-minded seekers, especially Dr. Singh’s insights that she internalizes within her own process. She probably spent little time in the Chaos phase and moved on to Surrender and Transcendence.

But to return to her glittering blue eyes, as I call them—a manifesto of her psychospiritual transformation before death. It seems like she was practicing the moment of “Free Fall” into Cosmic Love, her sense of the dying process as found in her journals.

Her name was Sister Carol Ann Collins, SSND. We miss her.


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