Tuesday, December 22, 2015

O Rex Gentium

O King of all the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone uniting all people: Come and save us all, whom you formed out of clay. 

There is a street named Desire in New Orleans - a city that perhaps characterizes the “sad divisions” of urban centers today, made particularly poignant, painful and obvious after Hurricane Katrina. During Christmas 2005, when our son Peter was home from college, we decided to go there to help with the cleanup. We did simple tasks like weeding at a church, mowing lawns, and helping a busy nonprofit put up their Christmas tree.

We had an extra day at the end of the week and asked the volunteer coordinator what else we could do.  She invited us to simply be a visitor in her city and listen to the stories being told. So we signed ourselves up for a city art tour, visited the zoo and finally our journey brought us to the street named – Desire.

But what we remember most of all are the stories that the people told us.  Stories of where they were, all that transpired and how they survived the ‘cornerstones’ of their lives being washed out from under them…and how they have since weathered all that Katrina unleashed upon the city.   It occurred to me, listening to each of their tales, that it was very difficult to feel separation from someone after they shared their story.

We each have our own stories.  And many of us have had to face ‘sad divisions’ in rebuilding what we once thought were cornerstones holding up our lives. So as we near the end of the O Antiphons, perhaps one of the ways to welcome the King of Peace is to sit with someone with whom you feel separated and listen to their story…and they may just listen to yours.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

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