It’s a short walk across the park to our sub post office at Saint Stephen’s, far preferable to the one in town, now that it has left its historic building for an upstairs counter in a stationery shop.
I came out with two books of Christmas stamps. The first week in November seems rather early for this, but they are rather lovely, and we do still post letters occasionally, so why not share something beautiful as well as the Christmas story?
We may even use these stamps well into next year; I know a nativity stamp on a letter always makes me pause before opening, whatever the time of year. I was feeling a little sheepish though, as I set out for home; it’s nowhere near Christmas yet in my mind’s eye, let alone my feelings. Not even Advent.
But then, crossing the road I nearly tripped over a lap dog, dressed in a Santa costume despite its ample fur coat. 1,000 times NO! Let the dog be a dog! Let Christmas be Christmas! Of course the animals, including the shepherds’ dog, belong in the story, the next chapter of the Creation story, and of course we should treasure and care for animals in our care, but a dog is a dog, a furry animal, not a living soft toy!
May the star and your angel lead you through Advent to Bethlehem and the manger!
Of course the dog came with the shepherds to see baby Jesus! Patrixbourne Church, Kent.
One of the delights of this time of year is to see the starlings gathering. They used to roost in the tall yews in one of the gardens I worked in, up on Barton Hill. If I wasn’t there I would often still see them as they flew over the Canterbury city centre gardens I cared for, or we might meet them as I walked the children home from school.
Thank you for this image, Sister, and for all the good things you have shared with us this week.
Dec 23 – O Emmanuel
King of the Nations! Most nations today do not have kings, or they are shorn of their power and much of their status. Every now and then there is a story of an African prince succeeding to his position as king and giving up work and home in London, Canada or the United States to enter his kingdom. ‘We never knew’, his work colleagues say. May we know our King when he comes.
Over to Sister Johanna. Dec 22 – O Rex Gentium
In a traditionally ordered church the people symbolically face to the East, to the rising sun, symbol of Jesus the risen Lord. Today Sister Johanna leads our Advent reflection on Jesus the rising sun.
Follow the link. Dec 21 – O Oriens
Young Abel takes note of which keys fit in which lock to his grandparents’ house; no doubt it’s the same at home. Keys are important in our daily lives in England. Our ancestors felt the same way of course, and they addressed Jesus as the key of keys: you open what no one can shut, and close what no one can open.
Let’s open our hearts to Sister Johanna’s reflection on the Key of David. click on the link: Dec 20 – O Clavis David.
Sister Johanna invites us to reflect on Jesus, the root of Jesse; Jesse being the father of King David, and so the ancestor of Jesus. I like to go a couple of generations back from Jesse, to remember one of Jesus’ ancestors who was a homeless refugee:
Boaz was the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
Let’s join Sister : Dec 19 – O Radix Jesse
And pray that he may come quickly.
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
O Lord and Leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush, come!
Sister Johanna Caton’s second O Antiphon reflection can be found at: Dec 18 – O Adonai
Sister has laid out each of these posts differently to include Latin and English texts of the Antiphons; an image, and not least, her poem in the order that fits best.
Oh Wisdom come and lead us.
Here is the link to Sister Johanna’s post about Jesus, God’s Wisdom. Dec 17 – O Sapientia
In the evenings leading up to Christmas Eve, the Roman Catholic Church sings seven special antiphons before and after the Magnificat at Vespers. English speaking Christians know these in the metrical version that starts, ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel.’
Sister Johanna at Minster Abbey has written a poem for each of the antiphons and we are privileged to publish them here. She writes:
They are shortish poems that meditate on each O Antiphon. Each poem is in a different style, sometimes different voice, from the others. They begin with a heading consisting of the O Antiphon in its original Latin (surely one or two of your readers must be able to de-code the Latin, don’t you think?); then I translate the Antiphon into English. The poem then follows. You will see that the poem picks up on one or two aspects of the antiphon that seem to contain the most ‘punch’ but do not attempt to reflect on every aspect of the antiphon.
To preserve the format of each post as Sister intended, I have presented them as pdf files. Just click on the link each day to view the post.
Why did Saint Lucy from Roman Sicily, prove to be so popular in Scandinavia, which was never part of the Empire, and became Lutheran at the Reformation? She must have touched the popular imagination! The reason must partly be her name – Lux means light in Latin – and partly the time of her feast day, in the dark, dark days of winter.
It’s a feast for the girls! In the North Countries they dress in white, carry candles and bring coffee and biscuits to their parents in bed.
We were once served small bowls of cereal by our elder daughters, who were under 5, and who got up very early (very early!) to bring us breakfast in bed. A joy for their parents despite the lost sleep.
Saint Lucy was one of those teenage martyrs who stood up for the truth, stood up for her self, and stood up for God. We remember her with just a few of the many other women martyrs of Roman times when we say the first Eucharistic Prayer: Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia. Let them stand for all the young women who lived and died for the love of God, whose names we will never know. Let us commend all our teenage girls to their prayers.
And let us pray that the Peace the Angels proclaimed at Christmas may reign in all hearts, that all persecutions may cease.