Reflexion - Reflection - Reflexión
 published: 2007-12-18

…Those Beautiful O Antiphons!

Spiritual Echoes from the Servant of God, Mario Hiriart - by Amelia Peirone, Rome


Aus dem armen Stall von Bethlehem sprosst neues Leben…

Del pobre establo de Belén brota la Nueva Vida

Form the poor manger of Bethlehem, new life sprouts…

Aus dem armen Stall von Bethlehem sprosst neues Leben…


Mario Hiriart, im Gebet

Mario Hiriart, en oración

Mario Hiriart, in prayer

Mario Hiriart, im Gebet

  Am Meer

En el mar

At the seaside

Am Meer

  Mitten in der Welt...

En medio del mundo...

In the world...

Mitten in der Welt...

Fotos: Sekretariat Mario Hiriart © 2007

  O König der Völker, den sie alle ersehnen ... Komm!

Oh Rey de las naciones y deseado de los pueblos... ¡ven!

O King of the nations, awaited by the peoples...come!

O König der Völker, den sie alle ersehnen ... Komm!

Foto: StockXchange © 2007


Nine days before Christmas, in the evening liturgy, the Magnificat is prayed and introduced – in each of the vespers – by one of the venerable Oh antiphons! The Church vibrates with them since the 7th and 8th centuries. They are an expressive summary of the desires for salvation from all humanity. Each evening, the eyes turn to the Redeemer and greet Him with these splendid acclamations: O Wisdom…..O Adonai, Shepherd…..O Flower of Jesse’s stem…..O Key of David, Scepter of the house of Israel…..O Morning Star…..O King of all nations…..O Emmanuel.

There are seven O antiphons and the Church sings them from the 17th to the 23rd of December. They all begin with the "O" (in Latin), "Oh" (in other languages), followed by a Messianic title taken from the Old Testament but understood with the fullness of the New Testament because they are incarnated in the Son of God made man. They always end with an urgent supplication: come! Come and show us the way, come to free us, come to enlighten, come to save us, do not tarry any longer, Lord, our God. They recall the anxiety with which He was awaited by all people and they demonstrate the feeling of the Church throughout the years, always anew, as She awaits the Birth of the Savior.

Father Kentenich never let an opportunity pass without explaining the Biblical and liturgical richness as did later the Second Vatican Council when it asked for it vigorously. In everything, the faithful son of the Father and Founder, our Mario Hiriart from South America, was ahead in this already when he was very young. Due to his fine spiritual intuition, he knew how to unite the Marian, liturgical, and lay aspects of culture. In this way, he creates a very beautiful resonance in these enduring Church antiphons.

In the tropical evenings in Santa María, Brazil, Mario would sing with his community of Schoenstatt Brothers of Mary these praises. It seems you can still hear the subtle comments he would make to his little Mother: "I would take the points of each one of these, not only for meditation, but to meditate on them for an entire week. My little Mother, do you remember how deeply these penetrated my soul when I first heard them?"

Each evening they would repeat together:

O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High…..

Although Mario would prolong the antiphon within himself: "What wisdom so different from that which the world teaches, what hope so different! You say: blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek and humble, the peacemakers, those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice…..This is your calling, Christ: ‘sell all you have and give it to the poor and come, follow me." All which forms part of man’s earthly life must be opened up to heaven, beginning with my heart… it as a chalice toward heaven, thus life with you will be our great source of joy."

O Adonai, the Lord and Leader of the house of Israel…..

and he would continue meditating: "Christ as Teacher brings us the word and the wisdom of God which guide our intelligence; as Pastor He brings us the divine will which guides our will; as Priest He gives us the divine love expressed in his own sacrifice which unites anew our life with the heart of God."

O Flower of Jesse’s stem…..

The brother, more and more weakened in his body, would not renounce the powerful strength of new life in the Lord Jesus: "I think that my union to the Father and to the Spirit of Love is hardly a weak germ in me. It is a seed whose sprout has not emerged from the ground…..Little Mother, through incorporation in the living Christ, see to it that that love develops much more in totality. See that it penetrates the deepest and most intimate Trinitarian love! It is easy to talk about renewing the world, of ‘restoring in Christ.’ And in its application? This refers to that which I understand as ‘wisdom of life’ : to know how to touch in our daily life, the multiform intervention of God…..and there we will always be called to collaborate with Him for awakening a great generosity and idealism and to be able to risk everything in that mission."

O Key of David and scepter…..

The one who felt in each Shrine where heaven and earth met, desired to enter into the depths of human things and into the most sublime of divine things: "The clear acknowledgement of self and of ‘you’ is the basis for community understanding. When I know I am accepted as a ‘you’ by that person with whom I seek a loving closeness, then I have the master key to enter into his/her heart…..and, at the same time, it shows the openness which love gives because we see that that ‘you’ loves others and we follow the direction of his/her gaze and we also love those whom ‘you’ loves….that is how the true community love is born.

O Morning Star born from on high, incandescence…..

Weeks earlier, Mario would begin to prepare himself for the feast of Christmas by singing Christmas carols: "I believe that for me there is no moment as beautiful and kind in the history of humanity than when you gave birth to your Child. God made a child in a bed of straw and looked after by a cow and a donkey!.....the scene where Divinity is totally united to that which is weakest and smallest…..the moment where grace takes over totally the human being…..also takes over the one who does not know or is able to take care of himself…..the newborn baby. It is the moment where God places Himself totally in the hands of men… could do with Him whatever you wanted to… had to take care of Him, feed Him, bathe Him. You are no longer a transparency of your Son. You detach yourself from Him to show Him to all mankind. Your action of giving birth is the immense longing to spread the perfect happiness which is life with God above all creation and for the whole world because it is only longing to be happy."

O King of all nations and longing of the poor…..

Poor King, very poor and plundered, our brother Mario would note also that he knew about that: "Not only spiritual poverty but also material poverty. Poor in Nazareth. It seemed more reasonable to remain here in order to prepare an adequate place for the Child who was about to be born. At least here was their own home where there would be some comfort for you and your little child. But in Bethlehem, as pilgrims, they only had what they were wearing. Rejected by the innkeepers and probably even rejected by their own relatives. There are no doctors, no midwives, no relatives, no friends. To give birth to the Christ Child in a humble stable next to the animals… is the absolute poverty: your only richness is God Himself. You are like a pure chalice with the greatest treasure you could possess, your Child."

O Emmanuel, our king and counselor….

He who was certain that nowhere would he live as united to God than at Bethlehem because there, both had a nest in the heart of the Mother, awaited that moment as the most peaceful and full of goodness moment you could wish for: "In the poor stable at Bethlehem, heaven comes to earth, grace comes to fill and elevate nature and the whole world turns to the small Child which has just been born. At Christmas and at Bethlehem, the Trinitarian Son becomes man. He places Himself at the disposition of mankind as any other creature, weak and helpless, so much so that anyone could kill Him with their hands. At the same time, there is the infinite mystery of divine love which seeks mankind to elevate them and free them from sin and make them participants of the divine life: so incomprehensible a mystery as that of God becoming flesh in the little body of a child and abandons Himself to the will of creatures."

Thus, these brief prayers to Christ Jesus, the most beautiful O antiphons, condense the spirit of Advent and Christmas. The admiration of the Church before the mystery of a God made man makes Her exclaim Oh!:

  • O Sapientia = wisdom, Word
  • O Adonai = powerful Lord
  • O Radix = root, flower of Jesse (father of David)
  • O Clavis = key of David, which opens and closes
  • O Oriens = east, sun, light
  • O Rex = king of peace
  • O Emmanuel = God with us

Teacher and student of liturgy, the Spaniard José Aldazábal, taught us the joy for celebrating God’s life in us. He now directs us to read in inverse order the Latin initials of the first word after the <<O>>. These form the acrostic <<ero cras>> which means <<I will be tomorrow, I will come tomorrow>>. A good patrologist specifies that the expression affirms total certainty <<I will be, without doubting, tomorrow>> or <<I will be with you undoubtedly tomorrow>>, knowledge which Matthew leaves written in the Gospel as <<know that I am with you always until the end of the world>>. It appears as the Messiah’s response to the fervent supplication <<Come soon, come, do not linger>>.

And our Mario, who awaits Advent, becomes an echo to said response knowing that "the whole world turns toward the coming of the Child God" because "no other scene on this earth can be more real than that of the manger in Bethlehem." "You arrived at mignight….." yes, but " to give us a new and more genuine Christmas." Therefore, "I want to also wait for you anxiously each day so that you live in me…..O Treasure come from heaven, Jesus Child who approaches me."

From the Mario Hiriart Cause for Canonization, Amelia Peirone, Rome

Translation: Carlos Cantú Family Federation La Feria, Texas USA 121907



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