Last Sunday, I believe the celebration of Mass was particularly heightened during the Offertory, when the hauntingly beautiful rendition of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, was offered by our guest cellist, Ariel David Londono, and our very own, Agnieszka, on the piano. It is the oldest of Advent hymns, first put to music in fifteenth century France, and is the last of seven antiphons, referred to as the “O Antiphons.”
The “O Antiphons” are the seven special invitations to prayer recited during the Octave before Christmas (December 17-24) in the Divine Office, also referred to as the Liturgy of the Hours, or the Breviary, the official set of prayers which “mark the hours of each day, sanctifying the day with prayer” (USCCB). It consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns, readings, and other prayers and antiphons. Together with the Mass, it constitutes the official public prayer life of the Church. Priests (and transitional deacons intending to become priests) are obliged to pray it daily in its entirety: Office of Readings, Morning Prayer (Lauds), Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer (Vespers), and Night Prayer (Compline). Permanent deacons are obliged to recite only a part. Consecrated religious are generally obliged to celebrate at least parts, and in some cases, do so jointly (“in choir”). The laity are under no public obligation to do so but may oblige themselves to do so by personal vow, and are “encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually” (CCC, 1175).
The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known but they were sung in Benedictine monasteries perhaps as early as the sixth century and in Rome since the eighth century. They are based on Isaiah’s prophecies of the coming Messiah. These titles, which summarize Jesus’ identity and the traits of his messianic role, are based on verses from the prophet Isaiah and offer a unique opportunity to meditate on the Advent message of hope and salvation that we celebrate in the birth of Jesus Christ.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding (Is 11:2).
O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king, he it is who will save us (Is 33:22).
O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom (Is 11:1).
O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!
I will place the key of the house of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open (Is 22:22).
O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown (Is 9:1).
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests (Is 9:5).
O King of all nations, and keystone of the Church: come and save us, whom you formed from the dust!
The Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel (Is 7:14).
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!
If you or your family has the tradition of lighting an Advent wreath in your home, even with the Fourth Week of Advent cut short this year, you might consider praying these simple lines and reflecting upon them during these last two days.
VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED to help decorate the church for the Christmas Season! All are welcome! Please meet in the Narthex on Monday, December 23rd at 4:00 p.m.
CHRISTMAS PROJECT GRATITUDE – A great big thank you for helping us to surpass our monetary goal, for providing gift cards and gift basket items, for creating greeting cards, and for assembling, wrapping and delivering baskets and poinsettias to our parishioners and neighbors. Our parish community is blessed with immense generosity.
ADORATION REMINDERS – Adoration is cancelled on Monday, December 23rd as the church is being decorated for Christmas. We will have adoration on Monday, December 30th. Anyone is welcome to pray before the Blessed Sacrament between 1-9 p.m. every Monday in the chapel.
PRIME TIME – Calling all high school students! We will meet in the Teen Center on Sunday December 22nd from 10:15 to 11:00 a.m. between Masses. We will celebrate Christmas and have a cookie exchange, so bring a small plate of your favorite cookies.
SOCIAL JUSTICE/ST. AUGUSTINE – There will be NO meal served at St. Augustine in December.
BLOOD DRIVE – Volunteers are needed for the next blood drive on December 29th. Signup on the kiosk. Donors can schedule their appointments online at redcross.org.
WELLNESS RUN SUPPORTS THE PANTRY – Classic Lexus, the Cleveland Clinic, and the City of Willoughby Hills sponsored the 6th annual “Wellness Run/Walk” in October 2019. This past week, Matt Dietz, General Manager at Classic Lexus, presented the food pantry with a check for $3458.27 (see the website for pics). We are deeply grateful for the continued support we receive from the community. If you’re at Classic Lexus, please say thanks to Matt!
SOCIAL JUSTICE FUND 2019 – The Social Justice Fund supports a number of ministries including the Food Pantry, AERC, Buy Once, Give Twice Fair-Trade Sale, CEPROSI, St. Augustine Meal, and the Neighbor to Neighbor Meal (in partnership with the Endowment Fund). In addition, the Social Justice Fund provides financial assistance for families in need within our Willoughby Hills community, in the wider community through the Lake County Community Network and other Catholic parishes, as well as nationally and internationally through Catholic Charities, USA and Catholic Relief Services. To date in 2019, the Social Justice Fund has contributed $29,515.64 to assist our brothers & sisters in need. Thank you for your support of the Social Justice Fund!
JAIL MINISTERS NEEDED – St. Noel is part of a 5-parish team that leads Sunday night communion services in the Lake County jail. We are in need of additional ministers for 2020. We always serve in pairs and training is provided. Please consider God’s call to this important ministry and contact Anthony if interested (440-946-1128).
FOOD PANTRY NEEDS – So far in 2019, the pantry has served 1566 people with the equivalent of 14,097 meals. Special thanks to Impact Nutrition of Willoughby Hills for recent donations to the pantry. Thanks, also, to all who donated egg cartons; we have enough now and are no longer accepting egg cartons. Thanks to all who support the pantry!!
HOSPITALITY COMMITTEE – needs volunteers to serve coffee and doughnuts on Saturday at the 5:00 p.m. Mass. The commitment is for once a month beginning in January 2020. Anyone interested in helping, please call Betty Louis (440) 942-4009 or the St. Noel Office at (440) 946-0887.
ST. AUGUSTINE CALENDARS are now available in the parish office. Your $25.00 donation for each calendar gives you the opportunity to win throughout the calendar year and support a worthwhile cause.
Please complete the numbered card insert and mail to the St Augustine Hunger Center, 2846 West 14th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113. Checks are payable to St. Augustine. Winners will be mailed a check on Wednesday of each week.
MARY’S HANDS PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY – now has a sufficient number of Prayer Shawls (blankets and mini-prayer squares too) for anyone in your life who is in need of spiritual healing of mind, body, or spirit. There is no cost for these items. You can obtain a Prayer Shawl, blanket, or prayer-square from the parish office during office hours. Simply fill out a request form, select your item, and the prayer team will continue to pray for the recipient at each of their gatherings. Prayer Shawls are a beautiful way to surround those in need with God’s healing love and the loving presence of our parish community. We thank the anonymous donor for “Our Lady of Fatima” relic medals. The medals are attached to the mini-pocket prayer squares. Upcoming meeting dates are Tuesday, Jan. 7th from 11a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 25th from 9:30-11:00 a.m. in the Resurrection Room. Donations are always appreciated. For more information, please contact Joyce Puin 440-473-1238, Nikki Rini 440-823-0413, or Candice Minello 440-336-0991.
THEOLOGY ON THE ROCKS – Join us on Monday, January 13th at 7:00 p.m., 1414 Riverside Dr., Lakewood, for our speaker, Fr. John Manning, who will discuss the History of the Diocese. Fr. Manning is a judge in the Tribunal office, a delegate for retired priests, and is part of the faculty at Saint Mary’s Seminary where he is the Associate Professor on Church History. Register in advance – $12 per person www.theologyontherocks.wixsite.com/west
SEEKERS RETREAT – The 2020 Seekers’ Retreat for Young Adults is scheduled for January 31-February 2 at the Bethany Retreat Center in Chardon. See the flyer on the kiosk or contact Sr. Kate Hine ([email protected]) for details. This beautiful retreat would be a wonderful gift to yourself or the young adult in your life.
CLEVELAND RETROUVAILLE WEEKEND is scheduled for January 24-26, 2020. This is a Lifeline for Troubled Marriages.
Has your marriage become unloving or uncaring – your relationship cold, distant – thinking about a separation or divorce? Are you already separated/divorced but both of you want to try again? Then the Retrouvaille program may help.
RETROUVAILLE, which means rediscovery, is supported by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, but it is open to couples of all faiths. This program consists of a weekend experience for couples and six follow up sessions. A registration fee of $150 is required to confirm your reservation. For more information concerning the program, or to register, please call Marce or Liz Gliha at 440-357-6580 or 1-800-470-2230, or go online to www.helpourmarriage.org.