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Monday 10 April 2023


  April 9, 2023                                 STM Toronto


The first witnesses of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ maintain that the same Jesus who had been brutally and unmistakably put to death and buried was, through the power of God and the grace of hope, alive again. 


This is the essence of the historical claim of Christianity to eternal hope.

The crucified Jesus was not vaguely “with God,” nor had his soul escaped from his body; nor had he risen in a purely symbolic or metaphorical sense. He, Yeshoua from Nazareth, the friend whom they knew, was alive again. What devout Jews hoped for all the righteous dead was that, at the end of time, they would be found with God in the general resurrection. But this resurrection had happened, in time, to this one particular man, to Jesus. 


It was the complete novelty of the event that gave such energy to the first Christian proclamation. On practically every page of the New Testament, we find the early Christians were not trading in bland spiritual abstractions. They were telling the world that something so new and astounding had happened that nothing would ever again be the same. 


Over the past couple of centuries, many thinkers, both inside and outside of the Church, have endeavored to reduce the resurrection message to the level of myth or symbol. Easter, they argue, Is one more iteration of the “springtime saga” that can be found, in one form or another, in most cultures, namely, that life triumphs over death in the “resurrection” of nature after the bleak months of winter. 


Or, is it a symbolic way of saying that the cause of Jesus lives on in his followers. But as, C.S. Lewis keenly observed, those who think the resurrection story is a myth haven’t read many myths. Mythic literature deals in ahistorical archetypes, and so speaks of things that happened “once upon a time” or “in a galaxy far, far away.” 

But the Gospels don’t use that sort of language. In describing the resurrection, they mention particular places like Judea and Jerusalem, and specify that the event took place when Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of the region, and name distinct individuals: Peter, John, Thomas, who encountered Jesus after he rose from the dead. 


No one dies defending a myth. The myths of Greece and Rome are powerful and illuminating but there are no martyrs to Zeus or Dionysus or Osiris. But practically all of the first heralds of the resurrection went to their deaths defending the truth of their message. Christ is risen!


What does the resurrection of Christ mean then?  What does it mean to history and to humanity? It means, first, that the customary manner in which we understand the relationship between order and violence—from the Epic of Gilgamesh to “Game of Thrones”—has to be rethought. 


On the standard Realpolitik reading of things, order comes about through the violent imposition of strength. And if that order is lost or compromised, it must be restored through an answering violence.  This is, as many view it – the way of the world.


When the risen Jesus presented himself alive to his disciples, they were, we are told, afraid. Their fear might not have been simply a function of their seeing something uncanny; it might have been grounded in the assumption that he was back for vengeance. However, after showing his wounds, the risen Jesus said to his friends, “Shalom,” Peace. 


The teacher who had urged his followers to turn the other cheek and to meet violence with forgiveness exemplified his own teaching in the most vivid way possible. And what he shows us, thereby, is that the divine manner of establishing order does not have violence, retribution, or an eye-for-an-eye retaliation at its heart. 


Instead, Jesus radiates a love and forgiveness which swallows up hate, with forgiveness which triumphs over aggression. It is this great resurrection principle of hope which, explicitly or implicitly, undergirded the liberating work of saints like Pope Saint John Paul II in Poland. He was able to stand athwart the received wisdom only because he had opted for the way of love and hope.  Jesus was going with the deepest meaning, operating in concert with the purposes of God: faith, hope and love. 


Secondly, the resurrection means that God has not given up on creation – there is hope for humankind.  According to the well-known account in the book of Genesis, God made the whole array of finite things—sun, moon, planets, stars, animals, plants, things that creep and crawl on the earth—and found it all good, even very good. 


All that God has made reflects some aspect of goodness and all created things together constitute a beautiful and tightly-woven tapestry of hope. As the Old Testament lays out the story, human sin made a wreck of God’s creation, turning the garden into a desert. But the faithful God kept sending rescue operation after rescue operation: Noah’s Ark, the Prophets, the Law, and the Temple, even the people of Israel itself. There is always hope.


Finally, God entered his own Creation as the Word or Logos, the perfect icon or incarnation of meaning and love. In raising the Incarnate Son from the dead, God has definitively saved and ratified creation, very much including the material dimension of it (which is why it matters that Jesus was raised bodily from death). Over and again we, God’s creatures, have said no to the goodness of creation; but God insistently says yes. Inspired by this divine yes, we always have a reason to hope in the Resurrection – Alleluia Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed.

Monday 6 March 2023

Thanksgiving for Housing - Novena to St. Joseph

Holy House at the Shrine of 
Our Lady of Walsingham, England

We are thankful to report that Jane and I (Fr. John)  have found rental housing in a very central location on Bloor Street East, Toronto. 

This will allow Jane and me to continue working over the coming year as we move into retirement. By the grace of God, in May 2023 I begin my 72nd year after completing 10 years of service to the OCSP at St. Thomas More,  Toronto.  

Thank you for joining in prayer with the Novena to St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Canada and of those in need of housing. 

The Novena continues from March 10 to 19 (see text below).  God's grace has been apparent from the outset and, indeed, has anticipated the nine days of the novena providing housing for us in a truly blessed way.

Saint Joseph and Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Novena to St. Joseph -- For all those in need of housing



An old and beautiful invocation of the prayers of Saint Joseph is traditionally prayed for nine days before the Feast of Saint Joseph, starting on March 10. It is found in many places. The full text was released in 1950 with the Imprimatur of the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Hugh C. Boyle.


Here is an abbreviated and edited form of the prayer.  


Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, we place in you all our interests and desires.

Saint Joseph, assist us by your powerful intercession, and obtain for us from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, we may offer thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

O Saint Joseph, we never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. 

Saint Joseph, Patron of Canada, those in need of housing  and of departed souls – pray for us. (Mention your intention) Amen.


Holy House,  Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, Norfolk, UK

Conclude the novena with Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory be. 


Tuesday 13 December 2022

Christmas 2022 --- Epiphany 2023

Saturday, December 17 at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 24  
Sung Mass
5:00 p.m.

Sunday, December 25
Sung Mass
12:30 noon


Sunday, January 1
Sung Mass
12:30 noon


Sunday, January 8

Sung Mass 

12:30 noon

Friday 11 November 2022

Remembrance Sunday Requiem Mass, November 13

Traditional English Catholic 
according to 
12:30 Sunday, November 13 

The Catholic Parish 
of St. Thomas More 
263 Roncesvalles, Toronto.
Refreshments follow.

Sunday 11 September 2022

Days of Mourning for her late Majestry, Queen Elizabeth II

Until the official period of mourning is over after the state funeral, there are some temporary changes to Ordinariate liturgy:
  • If a Mass intention is free, the Mass should be offered for the repose of the Queen's soul. 
  • She should be remembered in all public devotions - The Litany(p. 1061) during a public holy hour in place of other devotions.
  • Masses on days that are memorials or optional memorials will be the Requiem Mass found on page 1024. She is named in the propers as: "... thy handmaid Elizabeth". 
  • The Dies irae is always recited at a requiem per our customs.
  • The readings are the regular readings of the day.
  • Our Lady of Sorrows is an exception to the displacement; it is still observed.
  • After all Masses, including the Sunday Mass, up to and including the day of her state funeral, the attached versicles and responses with collect from the breviary will be said or sung instead of any other prayers after the last Gospel and before the final hymn.
V/. O Lord, show thy mercy upon us.

R/. And grant us thy salvation.

V/. O Lord save the King.

R/. And make thy chosen people joyful.

V/. Endue thy ministers with righteousness.

R/. And bless thine inheritance.

V/. Give peace in our time, O Lord.

R/. Because there is none other that fighteth for us.

V/. O God, make clean our hearts within us.

R/. And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

Let us pray. Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless our Sovereign Lord King Charles, the parliaments in all his dominions, and all who are set in authority under him; that they may order all things in wisdom, righteousness, and peace, to the honour of thy holy name, and the good of thy Church and people; through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen

Monday 27 June 2022

Homily at Patronal Sung Mass, June, 26, 2022

“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”   Matthew 10: 39


As we contemplate the hundreds of Christians martyred around the world monthly, who better exemplifies the faithful response to this difficult saying of the Gospel than St. Thomas More, our parish patron saint?  We thank God for him today as we ask his prayers along with those of his great friend and fellow martyr, St. John Fisher. 

St. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester

Like them, today we face a direct challenge to living the Christian faith in Canada in the 21st century when churches are vandalized and desecrated and lies are spread about the the Catholic Church. The secular juggernaut: an alliance of atheist, secular and narcissistic social attitudes is challenging the Church and her norms with a creed of relativism, proclaiming the culture of death as they march.


Thomas More made his choice for the culture of life based upon his unshakeable belief that in the Church and her sacraments Jesus Christ truly dwells, calling us to penitence, to conversion and to sanctification. For him it came down to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Did the Sacraments convey what the Church had always said?  Did Holy Matrimony unite one man and one woman for life whether they were king or queen, nobility or commoner? 

Thomas More famously refused to take an oath denying that King Henry (VIII) Tudor was sacramentally married to Queen Katherine of Aragon.


In conscience, Thomas could not deny Christ and the Sacrament that binds man and woman in an unbreakable bond. He would not swear the oath and so had to give his mortal life in order to retain his soul. What could be simpler? What could be more difficult?  


In our day, people insist that truth is relative. You know the language: You have your truth and I have mine. Today we see the “progressive” collusion of governments with legislatures and social engineers forwarding the grab for power by those who serve the dictatorship of relativism. The "Woke" are gradually raising the pressure on and "cancelling" those who hold to the sacramentality of the Church and the sanctity of life as the way in which we are in communion with Christ and his sacrifice for us.


This campaign to change the once universal customs and morality embedded in laws governing marriage between one man and one woman seems relentless. It goes hand in hand with efforts to make the Mass little more than a communal gathering with no sense of the transcendent. These entrapments are all part of a grand design to put an egotistic humanity at the centre while denying the transcendence of God and the moral order that has been at the heart of human flourishing from time immemorial.

St. Thomas More stood, in his day, for the faith once delivered to the saints. We pray for the grace to stand in our day for the same faith. May his prayers along with those of our Lady, St. John Fisher and all the saints guide us in our journey of faith which has been paved for us by the feet of the martyrs. 

Monday 20 June 2022

Patronal Celebrations at STM Toronto

Patronal Sung Mass 
of St. Thomas More

Sunday, June 26 at 12:30 noon

263 Roncesvalles Avenue,  Toronto

Sacred Music with SATB choir

Refreshments to follow.

Sunday 24 April 2022

STM Homily for Easter II

EASTER II, April 18, 2022               STM Toronto


The prophet Daniel saw in a vision: “One like the Son of Man” receive everlasting kingship (Dan. 7:9–14). In a vision described in today’s Second Reading, the Apostle John is taken where he sees Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ, who appears as “One like a Son of Man.”


Jesus is clad in the robe of a High Priest (Ex 28:4; Wis 18:24) and wearing the gold sash of a king (1 Mac 10:89). He has been exalted by the right hand of the Lord. In this image we see the completion of the Old Covenant with Israel. The anointing of the Apostles by the Holy Spirit conveys the living Apostolic tradition of Christ’s Church – his Body.


His risen body, which the Apostles touch as recounted in today’s Gospel, has been made a lifegiving Spirit (1 Cor 15:45). 


As the Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power (Acts 10:38), so Jesus pours out the Spirit on the Apostles, sending them into the world: “as the Father has sent Me so I send you.” Jesus “breathes” the Spirit of His divine life into the Apostles—as God blew the “breath of life” into Adam (Gen 2:7), and as Elijah’s prayer returned “the life breath” to the dead child (1 Kings 17:21–23).


Jewish Scholars from before the time of Jesus passed on Masorah or transmission of sacred tradition from generation to generation. In parallel, the creative breath of Jesus unites the Apostles—His Church—to His body, and empowers the Church to breathe His life into a dying world. This apostolic faith is the living tradition of Christ embodied in the baptized community of faith.


In today’s Gospel and First Reading, we see the Apostles fulfilling this mission with powers only God possesses—the power to forgive sins and to work “signs and wonders,” a biblical expression only used to describe the mighty works of God (Ex. 7:3; 11:10; Acts 7:36).


Thomas and the others saw “many other signs” after Jesus was raised from the dead. They saw, they believed and they passed on the living tradition in the power of the Spirit.


They have been given Jesus’ life, which continues in the Church’s Word and Sacraments, so that we who have not seen might share in God’s blessings and have life in the Name of Jesus. 


Acts 5:12–16      Psalm 118:2–4, 13–15, 22–24        Rev. 1:9–13, 17–19    John 20:19–31

Fr. John Hodgins

Sunday 16 January 2022

Homily -- The Marriage Feast


EPHIPHANY II           January 16, 2022     

STM Toronto

 Mystagogy X

These weeks after Christmas present us with a season of “epiphanies” or revelations. The liturgy is showing us who Jesus is and what He has revealed about our relationship with God.


Last week and the week before, the imagery was royal — Jesus is the newborn king of the Jews who makes us coheirs of Israel’s promise, beloved children of God. Last week in the liturgy we went to his baptism.


This week we’re at the Wedding in Cana and Jesus’ first miracle.


We’re being shown another dimension of our relationship with God. We are sons and daughters of God married into the family of faith.  

The Bible begins and ends with a wedding—Adam and Eve in the garden and the marriage supper of the Lamb (Gen. 2:23–24;  Rev. 19:9; 21:9; 22:17).  Monogamous marriage between one man and one woman is, of course, the most embattled of human institutions today after being established for millennia as an essential part of society . . . 


Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the covenant relationship God desires with His chosen people. God is the groom, humanity is the bride. We see this reflected beautifully in today’s First Reading.


When Israel breaks the covenant, she is compared to an unfaithful spouse (Jer. 2:20–36; 3:1–13). But God promises to take her back, to “espouse” her to Himself forever in an everlasting covenant (Hosea 2:18–22).


That’s why Jesus performs His first public “sign” at a wedding feast on the “Third Day.”  Third meaning the day of fulness, completion or finality.


Jesus is the divine bridegroom (John 3:29), calling us to the royal wedding feast (Mat 22:1–14). By His New Covenant, He will become “one flesh” with all humanity in the Church (Eph 5:21–33). By our baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to her husband (2 Cor 11:2).


The new wine that Jesus pours out at this feast is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to His bride as today’s Epistle says. This is the “salvation” announced to the “families of nations” by the Psalmist.


Isaiah 62:1–5            Psalm 96:1–3, 7–10 1          Corinthians 12:4–11             John 2:1–12

Monday 10 January 2022



January 9, 2022                      STM Toronto


In this season of the Epiphany of Christ we glimpse with the Magi or Wise Men the mystery of God’s plan.  In Jesus all peoples have been made “co-heirs” to the blessings promised to Israel by virtue of Baptism into the life of Christ.  


Jesus humbles Himself to pass through the waters of the River Jordan leading a new “exodus”— opening up the promised land of God’s Kingdom so that all peoples can hear the words pronounced over Jesus, words once reserved only for Israel and its king.  


Through Baptism each of us becomes a beloved son or daughter of God (Gen. 22:2; Ex. 4:22). But our adoption as co-heirs with Jesus has implications for our actions and our behaviour.  We are called to and we must use our gifts and talents for the sake of the Kingdom of Christ . . .  serving our community of faith – our parish – at the altar, at the door greeting people, as an altar server and on the street using our time and our tithes. Today, Joseph DeCaria our administrator will outline some of the areas of need that we have here at STM.


Jesus is the chosen servant that Isaiah prophesies in today’s 1st Reading. He is anointed with the Holy Spirit to make things right and just. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus as “a covenant of the people,” the liberator of captives, the light to the nations. The 2nd Reading today tells us that Jesus is the One long expected in Israel, “anointed . . . with the Holy Spirit and with power.”


We are each and all called to share in this anointed mission by serving all those whom God calls into the Kingdom.  We do so by offering our gifts at the foot of the Christ Child as the Magi did.   


The word messiah means the one anointed with God’s Spirit. King David was “the anointed of the God of Jacob” (2 Sam. 23:1–17; Ps 18:51; 132:10, 17). The prophets taught Israel to await a royal offshoot of David, upon whom the Spirit would rest (Isaiah 11:1–2; Daniel 9:25).


The crowds are anxious at the start of today’s Gospel. But it isn’t John they’re looking for. God’ voice confirms what the angel earlier told Blessed Mary: Jesus is the Son of the Most High, come to claim the throne of David forever (Luke 1:32–33).


In the Baptism of Christ the voice of God hovers over the waters like a fiery flame. He has sanctified the waters, made them a passageway to healing —a fountain of new birth and everlasting life for us and for all those we serve.


Readings for Baptism of the Lord:

Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7                               

Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10                            

Acts 10:34–38                      

Luke 3:15–16, 21–22

Tuesday 4 January 2022


The following is a response to an article by Dr. Ephraim Radner in FIRST THINGS - JANUARY 2022 -- THE BACK PAGE


In his meditation on climate, culture, language and catechesis, Ephraim Radner offers an insightful look at the directions open to society in this century. He concludes with a clarion call for catechesis in the Church, a call to which many will sound a great Amen.


There are two points to add to Dr. Radner’s pastoral call for biblical focus.  The first is in response to his lament: “The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) was suffused with a penitential spirit. It is no longer so.”


This is true. Myriad additions, subtractions and “woke” amendments to Anglican orders of service around the globe cover everything from Evensong to LGBTQ (add your letter) inclusivity rites and transgender “affirmations”. What is left of the BCP in the Anglican Communion (I use the term loosely) is a mess of potage, detritus on a sea of change blown by every wind of doctrine.


Fortunately, under the aegis of Pope Benedict’s farsighted Dogmatic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (AC), there is a safe harbour for English (Anglican/Episcopalian) liturgy and patrimony.  The recently published English breviary for the Ordinariates: Divine Worship: Daily Office (CTS, 2021) is mandated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for English-speaking clergy and people worldwide.  This book is a rich compilation of Anglican daily offices and other rites shaped in conformity with universal Catholic liturgical principles and approved by the CDF.


The Breviary retains the poetic English of the BCP tradition while offering all seven of the daily offices for religious communities and individuals. The breviary serves as a text and work book for grounded and ongoing catechesis.


This English form of The Liturgy of the Hours joins the previously published Divine Worship: The Missal (CTS, 2015) and Divine Worship: Occasional Services (CTS, 2014). These traditional texts provide contours for the second element we may add to Dr. Radner’s appeal – mystagogy, the learning through liturgy. Mercifully, these English prayer books have a home now in the Universal Church. 

Sunday 2 January 2022


Mary, Mother of God 

Jan. 1,  2022 STM, TORONTO


The Apostles together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, formed the Church, an indissoluble group surrounding the human life of Jesus. 

Mary’s fiat, her “yes” to God, is the foundation, the undergirding and the sustaining the Church which emanates from Jesus Christ, her Son. The Church finds her personal centre in Mary. Her faith response to the Divine Bridegroom complements the masculine principle and together they bear the fruit of Christ’s love for the world. 


Knowing that all people are envisaged in God's plan, the Church can humbly know herself as the chosen representative of mankind before God in faith, prayer, and sacrifice, in hope for all, and, still more, in love for all.


The highest priority of the Church belongs to our readiness to serve the divine love. Our “Yes” that has no other purpose.  Yet, this response to God appears senseless in a world caught up in what is thought to be urgent, reasonable and individualistic. This is a society in thrall to the dictatorship of relativism, the plague of self-referential gender fluidity and the mania for unlimited choice. Society slouches towards Sodom.   


St. Thomas Aquinas, in discussing Mary's fiat, saw that it was necessary to show the spiritual marriage between the Son of God and human nature.  Mary's "yes" stands for all God's people; making it possible for every person to pronounce their own personal fiat – Yes to God’s love.


Mary’s Immaculate Conception locates her personal existence between Heaven and human life in its fallen state. This is because her Immaculate Conception has freed her from any influence of sin. 

Yet, Blessed Mary lived her human existence in this fallen world of sin. Her personal life is situated at the passageway between the Old Covenant of Law and Sin and the New Covenant of Grace and Spirit.


Blessed Mary stands in direct continuity with the generations who descend from Abraham. As Virgin Mother, who became pregnant by her consent to the overshadowing Spirit; she signifies a new beginning. 


Finally, her existence lies in the tension between time and eternity. Although she herself has regained Paradise in her Assumption, as Mother of all the living she gives birth to the Messiah in the birth-pangs of the Cross." 


Mary's dramatic role emerges both from her centre – as Jesus’ Mother – the Mother of God — and from the whole range of her being, which embraces fallen and redeemed humanity. Her role is universal.


Two thousand years of Christian tradition bear witness to the abiding presence of the Mother of God at the heart and centre of the Church.    

Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us now, and at the hour of our death.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Mystagogy VI - Art, Architecture and the power of Gothic churches to communicate the Gospel

The following link is to a homily given by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 about the beauty of gothic churches and their role in the mystagogy of saints, art architecture.

Gothic Churches

Saturday 11 December 2021

ADVENT III C, 2021 - Homily STM, Toronto


We hear in today’s Gospel that God's people are “filled with expectation.” The crowd gathered around John the Baptist believed that he might be the Messiah whom they’ve been waiting for to free them from the power of sin and Rome. Three times we hear their question: “What then should we do?”


The Messiah’s coming requires everyone to choose—to “repent”. That’s John’s message and it will be the message of Jesus too (Lk 3:3; 5:32; 24:47).  “Repentance” as we have already heard this Advent, is translated from the Greek word, metanoia(literally, “change of mind”). However, repentance is a twofold change or turning. It is “turning” away from sin (Ezekiel 3:19; 18:30) and then turning toward God (Sir 17:20–21).


This “turning” is more than what a teacher might call an attitude adjustment. It means a radical life change. It requires “good fruits as evidence of our repentance” (Luke 3:8).  That’s why John tells the crowds, the soldiers and tax collectors they must prove their faith through works of charity, hope, honesty, and justice.


In today’s Mass, each of us is called to stand in that crowd and hear the “good news” of John the Baptist’s call to repentance. In this mystagogy, i.e. this learning through the sacramental mysteries of our faith, we examine our lives, asking from our hearts as the crowd asked: “What should we do?” Our repentance springs not from fear of coming wrath (Luke 3:7–9) but from a joyful sense of the nearness of our saving God.


This theme resounds through today’s readings: “Rejoice! “. . . Gaudete! Rejoice ye! The Lord is near. So, on this Third Sunday of Advent the liturgical colour is rose signifying our joy at the news of the coming Messiah. Have no anxiety we are told in today’s Epistle. The Lord is coming amongst us. “Rejoice, in the Lord always, again I say: Rejoice.


In today’s First Reading, we hear echoes of the angel’s Annunciation to Blessed Mary. The prophet’s words are very close to the angel’s greeting (Luke 1:28–31). Mary is the Daughter Zion—the favoured one of God, told not to fear but to rejoice that the Lord is with her, “a mighty Saviour.”


She brings us joy. For in her the Messiah draws near to us, as John the Baptist had promised: “One mightier than I is coming.”


Zephaniah 3:14–18              

Isaiah 12:2–6            

Philippians 4:4–7                 

Luke 3:10–18

Friday 10 December 2021


Praying the O Antiphons of Advent 

During the final days of Advent, we focus on the glorious nature of the coming Messiah. This anticipation is marked by something special in the prayers in the Breviary.

Antiphons are short sentences sung or chanted before the recitation of a psalm or canticle.

The antiphons of Evening Prayer which we see in the week before Christmas welcome the birth of the Saviour by heralding one of His resplendent Biblical titles along with a special petition related to that title.

It is a liturgical tradition that was started in the earliest centuries of the Church—one that has continued to the present day in monasteries and convents, and even in the homes of the Catholic faithful who make portions of the Divine Office part of their daily prayers.

You might recognize these antiphons from the beautiful Advent hymn "O Come O Come Emmanuel."

Icon of the Nativity


The O Antiphons are particularly special. These seven antiphons are prayed immediately before the Magnificat during Evening Prayer in the week before Christmas.

Each antiphon begins with the exclamation "O", which is why they are popularly called the "O Antiphons."


Each O Antiphon emphasizes a unique prophetic title of the soon-to-be-born King of Kings, as foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah:

WisdomLord of IsraelRoot of JesseKey of DavidRadiant DawnKing of All Nations, and Emmanuel.

DIVINE WORSHIP: DAILY OFFICE (DW:DO) -- The official Prayer Book of the Ordinariates -- has the full English texts of the O Antiphons to be said or sung at Evensong before the Magnificat (beginning on p.294 of DW:DO, North American edition). 

These antiphons cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the "Octave before Christmas," from December 17th to the 23rd. (December 24 is Evensong of the Christmas Vigil, and does not have an O Antiphon.)

The ancient monks who first assembled the O Antiphons were very creative with the order in which they were prayed. If you take the first letter of each antiphon (in the Latin) and read them from last to first, the word ERO CRAS is spelled, which translates: "Tomorrow I will come."


Excerpted from an article by Z. Maier:

What does full participation mean?

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy offers little explanation as to what “full, conscious, and active participation” consists of, other than that it is inherent in the very nature of what liturgy is. 

Participation is primarily internal

Active participation in the liturgy is primarily internal, no matter how much such external manifestations may be concrete indications of what is happening within. Active participation has to do with a kind of mindful engagement in the rites, an attending to the words and gestures, the symbols . . . the space, the season. Without interior participation the rites are empty formalism. 


What is needed to achieve participation?


Preparation for the Sunday readings

Pope John Paul II touched on this issue in his 1998 apostolic letter, Dies Domini: The Day of the Lord.  In it he suggested that in order for the faithful to benefit from hearing the Word of God in the liturgy each Sunday they must take steps to prepare themselves in order to draw life from its proclamation. Of particular benefit, he said, is bringing people together beforehand to reflect on the Word of God they will hear proclaimed.

Faith re-encountered

Many parishes have among their people a small group of “cradle” Catholics who have discovered a whole new understanding of their faith when they were asked to sponsor someone wanting to join the Church and participated in the journey with the newcomer. 

Mystagogy reintroduced 

It is in the context of reception that the idea of mystagogy, a period of post-baptismal catechesis, was re-introduced into the current church experience.  The word mystagogy derives from a Greek word meaning “teaching of mystery.” This time of catechesis suggests, is “of great significance for both the neophytes and the rest of the faithful,” and they in turn should “derive from it a renewal of inspiration and of outlook” (p. 145).

Mystagogical reflection in the early Church

Both the catechumenate and mystagogical preaching were at their height in and around the fourth century. Reflections on liturgy by teachers of the time – Cyril of Jerusalem (+386), John Chysostom (+407), Augustine of Hippo (+430), among others – are part of the Church’s legacy. It is from one such mystagogical reflection that we have the often-quoted words of Augustine: “If you are the body and members of Christ, then what is laid on the Lord’s table is the sacrament of what you yourselves are, and it is the sacrament of what you are that you receive.” 

Mystagogical preaching 

Judging from the Church’s experience of that time, mystagogical preaching is an important part of ongoing catechesis. The call is made to the baptized to enter into mission, to service in the world. At the end of every liturgical celebration, the dismissal rite sends the community forth in the service of Christ. 

A mystagogical approach needed to engage the faithful

Making the liturgy accessible to “head and heart” is done best by a mystagogical approach. There are several characteristics of mystagogy as re-introduced in current church practice that make it particularly appropriate:

  • It is for all the baptized and not just for the neophytes; 
  • Mystagogy is a lifelong process involving a commitment to learning and deepening one’s understanding and commitment that is never finished; 
  • The whole of the community’s sacramental life is appropriate material for mystagogical reflection; 
  • Mystagogy is focused on personal experience, a sense of an encounter with God, the many layers of meaning in liturgical texts and symbols, and sharing this experience in order to be enriched; 
  • The liturgy itself is the first teacher describing who the baptized Christian is.