Monday, December 21, 2009


The antiphon for this evening’s Canticle of Mary is:

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

You can see the repetition, this evening, of the theme of yesterday’s antiphon—that of the needs of those in darkness/the shadow. The difference is that yesterday’s antiphon stressed the sense of rescue with the physical and graphic image of breaking down walls. Today the gloom of sin and sorrow is simply eliminated by the Rising Son. Yesterday the battle was fought; today the victory is total.

In its own way it summarizes the imagery of the prophet Malachi, who talks about the day of judgment (the yom YHWH, or Day of the Lord) as an oven that will burn up all evildoers. ‘But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:1-2). You will recognize this image, too, as one used by Charles Wesley in verse 3 of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

But perhaps this is taking us just a little too quickly to Christmas…

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