Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

December 2022 newsletter

Posted by universalis on 5 December 2022

Happy Advent!

At this time of year the Church’s calendar has what looks like a fit of unimaginativeness. All the rest of the year, days are marked as “Monday of the 21st week in Ordinary Time” and so on. Now, as we get near Christmas, the calendar solemnly informs us that December 17 is “17 December”, December 19 is “19 December”, and so on all the way to Christmas Eve. We feel a little cheated: we think we could have guessed that for ourselves.

Of course the designers of the calendar do nothing without a good reason, and even their accidents are not really accidents. You can see what they have been doing if you look up into the sky. Planets, when they get near the Sun, disappear, swallowed up in its glare; and in the same way Christmas swallows up the weekdays near it. What does the Wednesdayness of a Wednesday matter if it is four days before the celebration of the coming of our Saviour?

The O Antiphons

The liturgy marks these numbered days – from 17 December onwards – in a special way. At Vespers, the antiphons for the Magnificat each day form a kind of countdown to Christmas.

These antiphons are old and they are important. For this reason we have an article about each of them in the About Today page, so that you can see them and read about them even if you don’t normally do Vespers.

Looking at it “from the back”, so to speak – after the event has taken place – we tend to forget that the Coming of the Lord is an Old Testament thing. It is experienced by Old Testament people in an Old Testament culture, looking forward to it in an Old Testament way. And so the O Antiphons look forward to the event with Old Testament language and symbols. He is the Wisdom of the Most High (O Sapientia); Adonai, the leader of Israel (O Adonái); the stock of Jesse (O radix Iesse); the key of David and sceptre of Israel (O clavis David); the Rising Sun of eternal light; the King of all peoples; and on the 23rd, the final evening of Advent, he is Emmanuel, God-with-Us. (If you read this list backwards, you will be reminded of the verses of the hymn O come, O come, Emmanuel.)

You can see the first of these About Today pages here.

Christmas presents

People often ask how to give Universalis as a gift, so this blog post will tell you how. This year people have been giving The Creed in Slow Motion as well. At a recent signing some of them were buying the book in twos and threes, “One for me, one for my sister, one for our parish priest back home.” This is just the way it ought to be. Good things are spread not by clever marketing, but from one person to another, with love.

You can read all about how to get The Creed in Slow Motion here. (This is the new book by Martin Kochanski, not the book by Ronald Knox from the 1940s).

Danish language

Providing the liturgy in additional languages is an important part of what Universalis is about. It can be a help in countries where people can’t afford to buy the books – such as Madagascar – or where there are so few Catholics that making printed books at all is a difficult operation to justify, such as Estonia.

I tend not to say much about this in the newsletters, since most of you aren’t reading in anything other than English and perhaps Latin. But this time I should like to celebrate the fact that both the Liturgy of the Hours and the readings and prayers at Mass are now available in Danish. This has come from the imagination and dedication of the Danish Church and a huge amount of work by a dedicated and skilful volunteer. Definitely worth celebrating – and if you speak Danish, or know someone who does, all the details are here.

The Creed videos

Father Sean Doggett’s videos on the Creed continue. He has now got as far as episode 32, “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate”. Why “for our sake”, exactly? If you aren’t puzzled by that, you should be. There are links to all the videos here.

Thank you all for using Universalis. If you have trouble or questions, or suggestions, do write to us at universalis@universalis.com or use the Contact Us button in one of the apps.

Let us all keep one another in our prayers, as always.

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