Gaudete Sunday & O Antiphons
Today the Church celebrates the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday because of the first word “Rejoice” in the entrance antiphon of Sunday’s Liturgy. The vestments worn by the priest are the color rose. The third candle of the Advent wreath is also rose. Both are reminders that Christ’s coming is very soon; we are nearing the end of Advent, and we can hardly contain our joy.
The “O” Antiphons are the final gift of the liturgy in preparing for Christmas. From December 17 to December 23 we have seven antiphons that intensely express the long years of waiting for the Messiah. The antiphons express the impatience for Christ to come. They travel through the history of redemption announcing “Jesus...as our Teacher, our Redeemer, our Liberator, our Guide, our Enlightener and our Savior.”
The antiphons themselves are part of Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. The liturgy of the Mass hints at the O Antiphons, including excerpts at the Alleluia verse and other antiphons. Today the O Antiphons are most familiar to us in the hymn "O come, O come Emmanuel". Each verse of the hymn parallels one of the antiphons.
The essence of the O Antiphons is that they are a gift of the Liturgy and the Word of God and beg for quiet contemplation. The O Antiphons fall at the latter half of Advent, the time that points to the interior preparation and meditation that we should be trying to bring to our spiritual lives. Instead of unpacking them all at once, the antiphons are gifts to slowly unpack and contemplate. We can be like Mary, pondering these words in our hearts.
This week spend some time looking up the Scriptural passages upon which the antiphons are based and reflect on the longing for Christ in your own heart.
Catholic Culture; DailyScripture.servantsoftheword.org