Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Thursday, December 22, 2005

O Rex Gentium

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

'O King of the gentiles, whom all the peoples so desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one: come, and save men whom you made from clay.'

"King whom all the people desire! It was not only patriarchs and prophets who were waiting in the land of shades. It was not only to prophets and patriarchs, to the men of Israel, that the Light went when it went down into hell... that hell was the place of all the dead, where all men are in the same condition. It was the place where the most significant division in the world - between Israel, the one people that was chosen, and the very many peoples who were not - was no longer of any significance... He was and is desired not only by his first love, the chosen people, but by the peoples who were not elected but who, for all that, are not outside his love.

We are not praying for a fuhrer, but for the king who makes his people a nation of kings. If we pray him to come, then we must be ready to share his kingship. Those who, according to the Apocalypse of St John, will sit with him on his throne are those who have conquered as he has conquered; they are those whom he has freed from their sins by his blood, and made a kingdom, priests to his God and Father. Christ is King, surely, but he is not a king whose royalty is diminished by sharing it with other people. Again and again, we tend to think that if God shares things with us, he will be lessened by it, but that is not so. Christ is none the less a priest but all the more a priest in that he makes all of us priests too. God is none the less holy but the more holy in that he makes us really holy as well. God is all the more God, all the more other, in that he makes us sharers in his very nature as God, as Peter in his second epistle and the Church Fathers insist. So when we pray for him to come as King... we are praying for a king who will restore us to our rightful position as kings in the world he has made, for, as the Roman Liturgy puts it, we are 'set over the whole world to serve him, our Creator, and to rule over all creatures'.

The King of the gentiles makes us kings in turn; we whom he formed 'de limo', out of the dust and slime of the earth... We are reminded of that every year at the start of that other purple season of Lent, when the Church says to us on Ash Wednesday; 'Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you will return.' Remember the reality of the situation... Not only in Lent but throughout the entire year and perhaps especially today as we repeat this antiphon, we stand, each one of us, under the sign of the ashes, the dust of the earth. That is the sign of our solidarity in human nature and fallen nature. It is also the sign of our solidarity in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the risen Lord, the King who is to come and whom the gentiles so desire.

He, we say, is the Cornerstone that makes both peoples one, forging a unity out of Jew and gentile. According to Paul, this is the heart of the mystery that was hidden from before all ages but has now been revealed. The mystery of the Church as the sign and instrument of unity between men. The mystery of the gospel that is spoken to men who do not speak each other's languages so that they may with one heart and one mouth confess the faith of Christ. The whole object of the exercise of Christ's coming is that he should gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. Therefore, we must always have something of his concern for unity, in mankind and, most particularly, in the Church."

- Geoffrey Preston, OP, 'Hallowing the Time'

The image above is 'The Adoration of the Trinity' by Albrecht Durer (1511)


Blogger Scott Carson said...

Hi Brother Lawrence

I just wanted to pop in to your blog (which I love and have had blogrolled at my own blog for some time now) and say how much I have appreciated your postings on the O Antiphons, just in case I left you with the wrong impression in my comments over at Disputations.

Don't get me wrong--when I say that I'm puzzled about all the fuss one hears every year at this time about the O Antiphons, I don't mean to suggest that there's nothing to fuss over--only that the fuss that one tends to hear has a certain ring to it. Perhaps you know the kind of thing I mean: there tends to be a lot of scholarly lecturing about origins etc., and there's not often a lot of talk such as you offer here, reflections on the deeper spiritual meaning of these antiphons.

As I mentioned in my comment over at Disputations, I think that this sort of reflection can be done with most antiphons--indeed, I think that the whole of the Divine Office is just as beautifully structured and deeply layered as these Great Antiphons. So perhaps my attitude is not so much one of trying to belittle the greatness of the O Antiphons, but rather a kind of jealous defensiveness of the greatness of the whole Office.

Anyway, I hope I haven't left you with the wrong impression!

6:45 am  
Blogger Br Lawrence, O.P. said...

Scott, we are in agreement then. Thanks for clearing that up and I am sorry if I reacted too vociferously!

Thank you for your kind and gracious comments with regards to my blog and I am happy that fr Geoffrey's reflections are of some help to at least one person out there! :)

God bless and merry Christmas!

7:13 pm  

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