O Sapientia

Source: District of Asia

On the last seven days before the Vigil of Christmas, special antiphons are sung at Vespers: the "O-antiphons", each of which begins with the exclamation "O" followed by one of our Lord's Messianic titles. They are sung very solemnly before and after the Magnificat, like appropriate settings for the Canticle of love and gratitude of the Virgin who gave us the Messiah. Besides an invocation to our Lord under a particular Messianic title each contains a petition prompted by that title. We salute Mary, through whom the Divine Wisdom became man.

Petition: Through Mary's intercession we ask for the grace of becoming possessors of the true Wisdom.

I. O Wisdom

"O Wisdom, that proceedeth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things with a strong and gentle hand."

Through the Wisdom of God all things have been created. God's Wisdom is the Word of God. In order to create God needs neither materials, nor tools, nor effort. His will suffices. The expression of His will is, in human terms His creative Fiat.

God's Wisdom has no limits: it reaches "from end to end" in both time and space. It enfolds the universe in its origin, its development, its completion. Inside the universe it attends to each being, individually and in its relation to the whole; in every being it assists each action in its initiation and its fulfilment. Nothing escapes its eye or its power. "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments! How unsearchable his ways!" (Rom. 11:33.)

This Wisdom "ordains all things with a strong and gentle hand": from the heights of heaven, it leads all things decisively yet discreetly to their appointed ends. Augustus is not aware that, when from his palace at Rome he issues a decree, he is only implementing the divine plan: the Messiah is to be born in a stable, and to that purpose the population of the entire Roman world is set moving.

The Wisdom which we invoke is on the point of manifesting and concealing itself unto the world in that powerless, speechless Babe, born of Mary and laid by her in a manger. Truly, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3).

II. Petition

"Come and teach us the way of prudence."

Prudence and Wisdom: not the prudence and wisdom of the world, which are the fruit of effort and study and do make man proud; nor prudence according to the flesh, which is induced by weakness and pusillanimous calculations. Those are not the ways of Wisdom that the Babe of Bethlehem comes to point out to us. The first lesson He teaches us is a pointed and radical one: utter detachment, abysmal humility and obedience unto the end.

This petition, if it comes from the heart, presupposes an ardent longing to learn true "Wisdom" a sincere love or the Master who is teaching these lessons.

He is coming. Let us not be frightened away, either by the first "school of Christ"- a poor, uncomfortable stable, or by the first of His "words of Life"- complete renunciation.

Later He will say, "No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him" (Jn. 6:44). The Father Himself has opened this school, and we know what arrangements He made to open it in a stable. We pray that He may draw us to Christ; He says to us, "This is my beloved Son, hear Him" (Lk. 9:35).

We know One whom He has trained in His school, "before he made anything from the beginning", who listened to His word when she uttered her Fiat. In her are now hidden "all the treasures of Wisdom and of Knowledge"; she will take Him in her lap and show Him to us and literally be the "Seat of Wisdom".

Prayer to Mary: Seat of Wisdom, holy Mother of God, the Wisdom that proceeds from the mouth of the Most High shall, as Wisdom made man, be born of thee: be pleased to intercede for us with Him, in whom abide all the treasures of Wisdom, and who dwelleth in thee; obtain us the grace of hearkening to the voice of Him that is the Way, the Truth and the Life.