Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Sapientia

O SAPIENTIA quæ ex ora Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, foriter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiæ.

O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 24:5, Wisdom 8:1
The first of the antiphonæ majores, or greater antiphons, of the Advent office in the Roman breviary, addressed to Our Lord using some of His titles from scripture, these antiphons are prayed from December 17th through the 23rd. These are collected together in the verses of that most famous Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel'.
The books from which this antiphon are taken are from the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament, and so may be unfamiliar to Christians outside of the ancient apostolic Churches, which is a shame, for they miss some great beauty, philosophical reflection, and approaches to Trinitarian theology.
The personification of Wisdom here is not a literary device, but rather ought to be viewed philosophically and religiously as a deeply Trinitarian mystery. Wisdom, we are told, is discovered by us, or is revealed to us, and is usually only understood in old age: it preexists us and all of creation, and is the proper attribute of all men and all women, in all states of life. Wisdom is becoming to both great kings and to slaves and to all between. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

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