Mass Schedule for the Week of the 4th Sunday in Advent (December 18, 2011)
19, Monday – O Root of Jesse (On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:10)
20, Tuesday – O Key of David (I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open. Isaiah 22:22)
21, Wednesday – St. Thomas the Apostle
O Morning Star (The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. Isaiah 9:2)
22, Thursday – O Kind of Nations (For a child has been born for us, a son given us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6)
23, Friday – O Emmanuel (Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14)
O Antiphons are used the last 7 days of Advent; each antiphon is a Name of Christ showing forth an attribute of the Messiah Jesus. Our processional hymn for Advent IV, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel is a lyrical paraphrase of these antiphons. Though the origin of O Antiphons is lost, Boethius (480-424) references the antiphons, thus leading us to guess that they must have been part of the Common Prayer of the Western Church’s early life. The Benedictines certainly put their stamp upon O Antiphons by their arrangement of the 7 days: Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—the Latin words ERO CRAS are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come”. Therefore Jesus, whose coming Christians have prepared for in Advent and whom they have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to them: “Tomorrow, I will come.”
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
St. Thomas was one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles and he is best known for doubting the Resurrection when the others first told him about it. He is also the one who declared Jesus’ divinity when he saw him a week later as he gathered with the other Apostles to celebrate the Holy Communion. “My Lord and my God,” he confessed before our Lord and the others. He is known to have been a strong missionary to Syria and India where he worked miracles and built churches. Egeria, a Gallic woman who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land between 381-384, wrote several long letters to a circle of woman in her homeland. In one letter she described her visit to Edessa where St. Thomas was venerated:
“we arrived at Edessa in the Name of Christ our God, and, on our arrival, we straightway repaired to the church and memorial of Saint Thomas. There, according to custom, prayers were made and the other things that were customary in the holy places were done; we read also some things concerning Saint Thomas himself. The church there is very great, very beautiful and of new construction, well worthy to be the house of God, and as there was much that I desired to see, it was necessary for me to make a three days’ stay there.”
From Edessa Thomas sailed to India in 52 AD to spread the Gospel among the Jews, but his greatest fruit was with the India itself.