O Rex Gentium

December 22

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.


The image that strikes me the most from today’s antiphon is the “Keystone.” The keystone is that stone that makes the arch “work.” Without the keystone, an arch would just fall down. That’s the way mankind is with the Lord. If He were to turn His back on us, we would just fall. We would return to the dust from which He fashioned us.

Merriam-Webster defines joy as

1 a: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3: a source or cause of delight
In this antiphon, we call on God as “the only joy of every human heart.” Christian joy is not the superficial emotion defined in the first definition we don’t need well-being, success or good fortune to have joy. Pope Benedict has said that joy is possible even in the midst of the “dark night of faith” (article here). He cites the example of Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, but I immediately thought of St. Therese of Lisieux when I read the headline of this article. St. Therese was a young woman, dying of pulmonary and intestinal tuberculosis, small, poor, and bedridden, and yet she always had a smile. St. Therese had the joy of the Lord. I often pray that He will make me endure my small sufferings as she did. I believe that joy in  well-being, success, or good fortune is not joy at all. The only joy, as the antiphon states, comes from the Lord.
May you find this joy as we so soon come to Christmas.

One thought on “O Rex Gentium

  1. Pingback: The O Antiphons « Knowledge Hungry

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