Catholic Corner
December 10, 2021

On the third Sunday of Advent, we light the rose colored candle.  It is Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday.  Historically the Advent Season had a heavily penitential character that lifted at the midway point.  The reforms of the Second Vatican Council place the focus throughout the Season on prayerful expectation of both the second coming of Christ and then after Gaudete Sunday on the celebration of the Incarnation, the first coming of the Son of God.  Here on Gaudete Sunday we anticipate the joy that awaits us in the Christmas Season.  We are reminded of all that God provides through the sending of the Messiah who is the light to the world, the light in the darkness, the light in which we rejoice.

This is also a Season of discernment. On this third Sunday of Advent we are asked to pause for a moment and discern the joyful presence of God in our lives. Such discernment requires us to trust in God, to listen in anticipation and with an openness to God’s presence.

The O Antiphons

First – What’s an antiphon? It’s a short phrase that we say or sing during the liturgy. Often we sing an antiphon as part of our psalm response.

Second –Where do we encounter them? Think “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” These texts or phrases are essential parts of the Advent celebrations and have been since at least the 8th century.  We encounter them most commonly in the Advent Season during Evening Prayer but we also find them used in Gospel acclamations and as part of the daily prayer of the Church.

Third – What exactly are they? They are wonderful acclamations of praise! They are addressed to Christ and make use of imagery from the Scriptures to acclaim and capture our longing for the Messiah, both as we look forward to the second coming of Christ for the first three weeks of Advent, and then as we look back with joy at the first coming as we prepare to feast the Incarnation of the Son of God.

The O Antiphons include the following:

O Wisdom from on high

O Sacred Lord

O Flower of Jesse’s Stem

O Key of David

O Day Spring from on high

O King of the Nations

O Emmanuel

Each of these embody the human longing for God, the call of the human heart for the coming of God which is fulfilled in the incarnation.