Thursday, December 17, 2009

Come, O Wisdom

The Season of Light:
The Christmas 'Novena', Day 1

The Word: Genesis 49:2-10 (The scepter of royalty shall never depart from the lineage of Judah) Psalm 72:1-4, 7-8, 17 (Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever)
Luke 7:18-23 ("Blessed is the one who takes no offense in me")
or Matthew 1:1-17 (Matthew's genealogy of Jesus as descendant of Abraham and David)

Christmas and the eight days preceding it constitute a novena, a nine-day period of more intense prayer by the Church as it prepares for the celebration of a great festival at its conclusion. A year ago I wrote a brief set of meditations based on the 9th century Latin hymn Veni, veni Emmanuel (O Come, O Come Emmanuel). It went out to a select few people at the time, but I found some of what was written very interesting when it finally came together; so I thought it would be a good thing to post it in a more public place this year, I hope the reader finds genuine meaning in these words.

Veni, O Sapientia,
Quae hic disponis omnia,
Veni, viam prudentiae
Ut doceas et gloriae.

Gaude, Gaude!
Emmanuel nascetur pro te, Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

--O Come, O Come Emmanuel,
verse two

Divine wisdom has been imparted to humanity throughout all time. This day reminds us that to understand where we are, we must look at where we've been.

On December 17, 1538, Pope Paul III excommunicated King Henry VIII of England from the Church.
Talk about your prime example of a man who literally through wisdom out the window with both hands in his quest to sire a male heir as successor to the British throne!

An Eastern Orthodox liturgy offers us reminders of others of our ancestors in faith who embraced wisdom:

Let us sing a hymn of praise to all the assemble of the ancestors: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Melchisedech, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, Elijah and Elisha and all the other fathers; the holy women made strong in the days of old by the might of your strength, O Lord: Hannah, Judith, Deborah, Hulda, Jael, Esther, Sarah, Miriam, Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth. You shone as heaven's lights upon the earth, enkindling the light of piety. You called forth the choir of all creation as you sang to the one who saves all from temptation.

Wisdom indeed.

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