Friday, December 16, 2011

Close at Hand!

It seems that the Church's liturgy, in its now heightened anticipation of Christmas, recognizes the little kid in all of us. What we mothers do with our children in December is just a reflection of this: we begin by telling them that yes, Christmas is coming soon, but not too soon, and we pull out the calendar and show them how to count and cross off the days (or we use an advent calendar).The candles on the advent wreath are another way to help them mark the time.  But later, we let them know it's getting much closer, we say look! only ten more days! Only one more week!  And the little ones are jumping up and down with excitement, repeating the endless litany of Oh-I-can't-wait!

The liturgy went into this higher gear of anticipatory joy on Gaudete Sunday (3rd), and today, the 17th, takes us to the calendar and says look, little ones, it's almost here!  That's why the invitatory antiphon changes from the indefinite Come let us worship the Lord, the king who is to come, to the very urgent,

 The Lord is close at hand; come, let us worship him!

We also start the O Antiphons, as mentioned here two days ago.   These are so heatbreakingly beautiful, depicting so well the goodness and majesty of Christ and our longing and neediness. If anyone comes across a good set of meditations on these,please let me know. 

One last thing before I go to buy a sack of seed for the many finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers,cardinals, and juncos that depend on it.  This morning's Office of Readings contains a verse from Isaiah that has stood out as one of those key statements of the beauty and glory of the Incarnation:

Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above,
   like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
   let justice also spring up!
   I, the Lord, have created this.

The Gregorian chant setting of it is well known to traditionalist Catholics. For those of you whose experience has not included much of our ancient musical heritage, I'd like to share this with you.