O Oriens

Source: District of Asia

"Oriens," which literally means "he who rises", was the name which five hundred years before Christ the prophet Zacharias gave to the Messiah: "Behold a man, the Orient is his name" (612). A century later the prophet Malachias calls Him "the Sun of Justice" (42). The most important daily occurrence in the order of Nature, the rising of the sun above the eastern horizon, is thus used as the symbol of the most important event in the work of mankind's salvation, viz. the birth of the Saviour, the dawn of the Light that shall shine in the darkness.  As we look out in expectation to the East where the new day will soon dawn, so we gaze, full of respect, upon Mary who will give us the Messiah.

Petition: The grace of an ardent desire for Him who is the Light of the world and who will dispel all darkness.

I. O Dawn

"O Dawning Splendour of eternal Light, O Sun of Justice."

The break of dawn puts an end to the night: it is not yet the splendour of full daylight, it is only a beginning; but a glorious beginning, the joyful expectation of a never-ending day. Here on earth our eyes cannot endure the full brightness of the Light divine, and therefore "the Word was made Flesh". In the Flesh the Word is made visible to us, although only through a veil. "For, by the mystery of the Word made Flesh a new ray of Thy Glory has shone upon the eyes of our minds, so that, while we know our God in visible form, we may by Him be drawn to the love of things invisible" (Preface of Christmas).

We also call her the "Dawn" from whom the true rising Sun will come forth. She is on the horizon the red glow that fascinates our eyes: it becomes brighter and brighter, illumines the horizon more and more; very soon the Sun Himself will appear. "Who is She that arises as the day-blush?" Holy Church exclaims on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. We greet her with reverence; and with her we long for the rising of the true Sun, with her we pray that "His own may receive Him".

II. Come and Enlighten Them That Sit in Darkness and the Shadow of Death

St John, who through his Gospel developed the one theme of the struggle between Light and darkness-"The light shineth in darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it" (1:5) - points out in his First Epistle a parallel strife between love and hatred. It is there that he gives "Charity" as the very definition of God: "God is charity" (4:8); and there also he writes, "Darkness is passed and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother, abideth in the light; and there is no scandal in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth; because the darkness hath blinded his eyes" (2:8-11).

For twenty centuries now the Light has been radiating; but how deeply has it really penetrated into the minds and the hearts of men? If we were to investigate the effectiveness of the light of faith and the light of fraternal love - for, let us not separate the two! - we would find the faith in God, and in Him who was sent by God, languishing in many a region, being persecuted in others, heroically confessed here and there, everywhere zealously preached... and yet darkness still reigning in countless souls.

"Come and enlighten them that are seated in darkness!"  And enlighten us, too, who are, in truth, walking in the light of faith, but not in such a way that our lives are transfigured by it and radiate the many that are gropingly seeking.

"He that loveth his brother abideth in the light; he that hateth his brother is in darkness." If that is so, how black the darkness is that encompasses the world of today! Is it hatred that is arraying our whole earth into two hostile camps? Maybe it is not conscious hatred; but at all events he who stirs up this tumult, and reaps the benefits, is the archenemy of God and man, Satan who hates us and "was a murderer from the beginning" (Jn. 8:44).

He whose coming we now expect is God's Love made man, the Brightness of eternal Light and Love everlasting.

Prayer: That Light may shine more brightly, that Love may reign more strongly in the minds and hearts of all men throughout the world; in our family, in our community, in our own heart. "Come, O Dawn, O Sun of Justice: enlighten our minds and enkindle our hearts, for we are sitting in darkness and lovelessness."