O Radiant Dawn, splendor of light everlasting:
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Every year when I pray the O Antiphons I can't help but notice that the Antiphon focuses on the 'splendor of light everlasting' falls on the shortest and darkest day of the year (for those of us in the northern hemisphere). It is a time when the "winter's cold ambush descends on us...Darkness arrives; all is anonymous, the sun has gone and the fading year dies."*
For all of us, the arrival of 'darkness' can take on different meanings. Just this past weekend Teresa and I were back in her hometown to celebrate her Dad's 89th birthday. But when the cake came out, although he smiled at all who gathered, he was unaware of what to do with the burning candles. Meanwhile, just the other day, I received a call from my step-mom, repeating the conversation we had the day before, and asking me if she had given birth to any children of her own that she needs to remember this Christmas. For them, and for so many others, darkness has arrived and much of life is anonymous.
So where is the darkness in your life? How often have you felt 'ambushed'?
But we have reason to 'come and cheer' the spirit of Advent…for the waiting and hoping is near an end. For while, on this winter equinox, we celebrate that the sun equally illuminates both the northern and southern hemispheres...we hold to the fact that tomorrow will be brighter than today.
This fifth day of the O Antiphons reminds us that Christ is the Light that will 'disperse the gloomy clouds' and put an end to 'death's dark shadows'...the Light that will make the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk...the Light that will enfold all of the dark nights of our life.
O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
* taken from: Sonnet for the Winter Solstice, Robert Rose