Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17th - "O Sapientia"



The "O Antiphons" are ancient pieces of chant that have been sung on the days leading up to Christmas.  Each day, a different title of Christ takes center stage, as the world literally sings out beseeching the Christ to come into the world.  Each of the titles references an aspect of the messiah that is heralded in the Old Testament.

The first day of the vigil, December 17th, sees the Church crying out for Christ, Wisdom made flesh. 

In the video above, the monks of Saint Meinrad sing both the Latin then the English version of the Antiphon. 

English:  O Wisdom who came forth from the mouth of the most high reaching from end to end mightily and gently ordering all things, come to teach us the way of prudence.

Latin: O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,attingens a fine usque ad finem,fortiter suaviter disponens que omnia:veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

To pray for prudence is a dangerous thing.  For all the lambasting of the "law" that goes on today, my experience in the confessional and in helping people in general, most people want God or the Church to tell them what to do in every instance.  "Prudence" is a virtue, however, and it basically is the belief that we as Catholics say that in the vast majority of circumstances, the law DOESN'T dictate what you are supposed to do, and that the only one who will know is the person in the situation who sees the infinite number of variables at play. 

"Prudence" is thus a virtue that we are educated in by God, and as we practice it more frequently, we get better at it, but we need the training and guidance of God, which is why we pray today that "Wisdom" come and train us "in the way of prudence."  May we be open to the training!

For further reading, the Catechism talks about prudence in paragraph 1806

"Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it; "the prudent man looks where he is going." "Keep sane and sober for your prayers."  Prudence is "right reason in action," writes St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. It is not to be confused with timidity or fear, nor with duplicity or dissimulation. It is called auriga virtutum (the charioteer of the virtues); it guides the other virtues by setting rule and measure. It is prudence that immediately guides the judgment of conscience. The prudent man determines and directs his conduct in accordance with this judgment. With the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid."