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O Oriens, O Dayspring

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

O Morning Star, splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. (The Latin can be translated to read: "O Dayspring," or "O Rising Sun.")

This particular antiphon is, perhaps, my favorite. Darkness is such a powerful metaphor for the spiritual condition of humankind before the advent of Jesus. The metaphor is most prominent in Isaiah: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined (Isaiah 9:2). This passage is the first reading for the Christmas Mass "at Night."

Luke picks up Isaiah's theme in Zechariah's song of praise: The day-spring from on high hath visited us; to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace (Luke 1:78b-79).

As someone who lacks an inner ear, I know the power of light! I cannot walk in the dark. The inner ear gives us a sense of balance; it is one of three balance organs in our bodies (inner ear, eyes, and joints). Those who lack one of the three can still maintain balance as the body will accommodate itself to the loss. However, the body cannot accommodate the loss of two of the balance organs. So when I find myself in total darkness, I am in danger of falling for our eyes cannot function in darkness. As a consequence, I keep "night lights" in almost every outlet in my room and have motion detector lights between the house and the garage. Light is essential to my mobility.

By the same token, the Light of Christ is essential to our spiritual mobility. We cannot find our way out of darkness without Jesus, the Morning Star, the Dayspring, the Rising Sun with healing in His wings.

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