One of the lovely things a sponsor can do is help their catechumen in becoming familiar with the different forms of prayer, and learning how to pray, sharing experiences together. In the last week of Advent, from 17th December to 23 December, we have a beautiful Christian tradition of praying ‘The Great O Antiphons’ – usually at Vespers, but not many parishes have that form of evening prayer available, unless you are lucky enough to be close to cathedral or priory or convent or abbey! This is just a simple suggestion to have a look at the Antiphons, talk about what they might be saying to us, and then to quietly pray them together, or sing them if you are really brave – they are paraphrased in the hymn ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’.
It’s a bit like a countdown to the birth of Christ, with the use of a special prayer or ‘antiphon’. These seven antiphons all begin with ‘O’! And then that ‘O’ is followed by a name for Christ – each one describing one of the attributes of Christ that we find in the Scriptures. These are:
O Sapientia (O Wisdom) O Adonai (O Lord) O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) O Clavis David (O Key of David) O Oriens (O Dayspring) O Rex Gentium ( O King of the nations) O Emmanuel (O God With Us)
You can google them on wikipedia, where they will give you links to explore each of the scriptural stories. Or you might simply like to read them and reflect for yourself : (you can find them at www.ssg.org.uk and look on the front page ‘Preparing the Liturgy’, page 2 – easy to download/print off)
You might ask each other: What catches my attention in this verse today? Do we know the story here? How does it help me look foward to Christmas!
If you want to be really geeky, it might be fun to know that if you take the first letter of each ‘title’ of Christ in the O antiphons, they make up a latin accrostic – ‘ERO CRAS’- which means ‘ TOMORROW I WILL COME’ – Jesus speaks! Its an invitation to get ready to celebrate the wonder of Christ becoming one of us, one with us, Emmanuel. It’s profound… it’s exciting.