Monday 24 December 2012

Christus natus est


G.K. Chesterton

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is spilt on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan, 
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.

Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.

Sunday 23 December 2012

Advent "O" Antiphon December 23rd

Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

Isaias 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

Saturday 22 December 2012

Advent "O" Antiphon December 22nd

King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

Isaias 9:7
His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaias 2:4
And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war.

Friday 21 December 2012

Advent "O" Antiphons

In the Church's Liturgy of the Hours, Evening Prayer, also know as Vespers, always includes the great prayer of Our Blessed Lady known as the Magnificat. Each day, the Magnificat is preceded by a short verse or "antiphon" that links the prayer to the feast of the day or the season of the year. In the last seven days of Advent (December 17-24), the antiphons before the Magnificat are very special. Each begins with the exclamation "O" and ends with a plea for the Messiah to come. As Christmas approaches the cry becomes increasingly urgent.

These moving "O Antiphons" were apparently composed in the seventh or eighth century when monks put together texts from the Old Testament, particularly from the prophet Isaiah, which looked forward to the coming of our salvation. They form a rich, interlocking mosaic of scriptural images. The great "O Antiphons" became very popular in the Middle Ages when it became traditional to ring the great bells of the church each evening as they were being sung.

Each of the O Antiphons highlights a different title for the Messiah: 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 Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. A particularly fascinating feature of the O Antiphons is that the first letter of each invocation, when read backwards, forms an acrostic in Latin: the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel in reverse form the Latin words: ERO CRAS. These can be understood as the words of Christ, responding to his people's plea, saying "Tomorrow I will be there."

The Antiphon for today, December 21st, is:

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Oriens (Is. 9:1): O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Just as the natural sun gives light and life to all upon whom its rays fall, so Christ, the Rising Dawn, dispels darkness and brings eternal life and light.

Saying the O Antiphons as a family, whether during grace at meals, in front of the Crib, or even in front of the Christmas tree, is a wonderful Advent devotion and a fitting way to prepare for the great events of Christmas.

Fr. Mark Lawler, SChLJ

Wednesday 19 December 2012

The Grand Master’s Advent Message

he image of the Christ-child laying in the manger at Bethlehem is all about us in the Christmas season. That God should become incarnate for us in what is weak and vulnerable speaks of His great love for us. The helpless and innocent child evokes in us a desire to both protect and care -  characteristics that must abound in members of an Order that is both Hospitaller and Military. Soon after his birth the Christ-child was in need not just of loving care but also of protection from Herod's attack. To carry out our Christian calling in the Order we need the instincts both of the carer but also of the protector.

The unique Christian and chivalrous calling is to allow those instincts to come to bear not just where the recipients easily evoke our sympathy but also to care and protect those who would otherwise be rejected and shunned - no more so than in our original vocation to care for those made outcasts by the disfigurements of leprosy - in the poorest of the poor. So many people are caught up in the pursuit of the things of this world - its honours, rights and privileges - but we must take all that in our stride and hold true to those promises we made when we entered the Order. 

Our mission of Christian brotherhood is expressed in a very special way for us within the Order.   Ecumenism is at the heart of our mission and we must strive for the development of respect and understanding within the world that we live. This can be best expressed in a hope of understanding between religions. During this sacred period, we should remember in our prayers the challenges faced by our Christian brothers and sisters in the East, calling to mind the witness given by the Magi who travelled to greet the Lord in Bethlehem. 

And so, my dear friends, as we look on that image of the Christ-child this Christmas let it call us to renew our commitment to be active in the Order so that our lives may be infused with that spirit of this Christmas season which will make our lives truly noble before God.

My prayers for each and every one of you and all the good work you do.

Jan Count Dobrzensk├Ż z Dobrzenicz
Grand Master of the Order of Saint Lazarus 

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Advent Concert in aid of SUROL

Our annual Advent Concert of Carols and Readings took place at Saint Catherine’s Church, Leyland, last Saturday arranged by Chev. Anthony Dickinson KLJ. We had a lovely evening with excellent music and readings and a hearty celebration fired by mulled wine afterwards!

A collection at the end of the Concert raised £321 for SUROL - and a very generous  benefactor gave a further £10,000!

Thank you to everyone involved, especially the musicians:

David Scott-Thomas - Accompanist
Ailsa Mainwaring - Soprano Soloist
Simon Woof - Alto
Nick Davis - Tenor
Anthony Dickinson - Bass