Family activities with O Antiphons bring focus back to Jesus as Christmas nears
In the days to come families will be getting together for good food and good conversation. Catechist Katie Bogner said it wouldn’t take much to invite Jesus to the festivities and get to know him through the O Antiphons.
“The O Antiphons pop to mind because they’re specifically prayed and celebrated in that last week leading up to Christmas,” said Bogner, the junior high faith formation teacher at St. Philomena School in Peoria and director of religious education at Immaculate Conception Parish in Lacon.
“It could be a really neat thing to do together, as a family, to look at these seven titles of Jesus and how the Old Testament prophecies came true when he was born,” she said. “Often the kids will recognize at least some of them because of the very popular ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ hymn they hear so often during Advent.”
The O Antiphons identify Jesus by the following names:
- Dec. 17: O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
- Dec. 18: O Adonai, the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our King, he will save us!
- Dec. 19: O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!
- Dec. 20: O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!
- Dec. 21: 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.
- Dec. 22: O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
- Dec. 23: O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!
(Taken from “Household Blessings and Prayers”)
GREAT GIFT TO FAMILY
“I discovered the O Antiphons as an adult and just found them to be a really beautiful way to pray during that last week, where we often get very busy with all the things we think need to be done,” Bogner said. “I personally have really loved them.”
“I discovered the O Antiphons as an adult and just found them to be a really beautiful way to pray during that last week, where we often get very busy with all the things we think need to be done. I personally have really loved them.” — Katie Bogner
With younger children, she suggests coloring one each day, talking and praying as they go. That can help to channel the anticipation of Christmas and help to center those celebrations back on Jesus.
“With older kids it can turn into a little bit of a scavenger hunt, because you can show them how all of these titles can be found in the prophet Isaiah,” Bogner said. “You could maybe read a little bit from Isaiah and then say, ‘Can you think of a way that Jesus made this come true? How did Jesus fulfill this?’”
It doesn’t have to be a full-on Bible study to be effective because children have a great capacity for wonder and awe, according to Bogner. “Having those conversations while you’re gathered around doing your normal holiday traditions, I think, can be a great gift to a family.”
It can also be a good way to enter into the National Eucharistic Revival, she said, because those titles for Jesus can help us to worship Jesus more fully in the Eucharist — “to see that he is everything and was everything and will be everything forever.”
Some of Bogner’s O Antiphons are reproduced here. To find all of them in a coloring book, as well as other downloadable lessons and activities, go to her blog, looktohimandberadiant.com.