Tuesday, December 21, 2010

O come, thou Dayspring from on high

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Latin translation of O Oriens Splendor
O Morning Star, splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Advent Carol
O come, thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by thy drawing nigh; disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death's dark shadow put to flight. Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

The antiphon for December 21st is based upon the image of Jesus as the "Light of the world," so prominent in John's gospel. John’s gospel opens by hailing Jesus as the “Light of the world,” coming to shine in our hearts and dispel spiritual darkness. His first and second Advents are both described as dawnings. The morning star in Revelation 22 is a symbol of God drawing closer to his people. (see Revelation 22:16). Isaiah prophesied, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined" (Isaiah 9:2).

Because we worship Jesus, the Dayspring, churches have been traditionally built with the altar at the eastern end, so that the faithful would worship the Lord toward the rising sun. John of Damascus explained, "It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit. Since, therefore, God is spiritual light, and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness and Dayspring, the East is the direction that must be assigned to his worship. . . . And when he was received again into heaven he was borne towards the East, and thus his apostles worship him, and thus he will come again in the way in which they beheld him going towards heaven; as the Lord himself said, 'As the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be'."

We are all desperately in need of a Savior, a Redeemer who is capable of ransoming us from the darkness of our sins. Sin clouds our intellect and darkens our will. We need light from above. Let us not shun the light, but look for it and run towards it.

Jesus said, “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Jesus brings clarity and light back to our souls when we are baptized or when we return to him through the sacrament of penance.

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